Home   Business   Licences and permits   Entertainment licences   Public entertainment licence

Public entertainment licence

This licence is needed for the use of any premises as a 'place of public entertainment'. This means any place (including land) where members of the public are admitted or may use any facilities for the purposes of entertainment. 

It doesn't matter if the activity is free, or donation based, it still needs a licence unless North Ayrshire Council's Interim Arrangements apply. 

The Law is that - it is for each of the 32 Councils in Scotland to decide what premises need a Licence. Each council passes a Resolution, after public consultation. Ours is summarised below. However, please check with the Licensing Office because:

  • the council is in the process of revising its Resolution
  • prior to the revision, the council has adopted interim arrangements

How to apply

There are 2 kinds of licence:

  • a permanent licence lasts up to 3 years, and can be renewed
  • a temporary licence lasts no more than 6 weeks, and can't be renewed

Please read our information notes (PDF, 93kb).

To apply for a Public Entertainment Licence for a permanent premises (such as a building) complete and return a Permanent Public Entertainment Application Form (Word, 86kb).

To apply for a Public Entertainment Licence for a temporary event (such as a fairground, circus or open air concert) complete and return a Temporary Event Public Entertainment Application Form (Word, 213kb).

PEL form A and B (Word, 633kb).

Please note:

1. Although a permanent licence can last 3 years the council can grant it for a shorter period. Licences for seasonal premises are granted for 1 year at a time. For example, a fairground operating during the summer months and dismantled for winter before being re-established next summer, will probably only get a 1 year licence.

2. A travelling fairground which operates in 1 town, is dismantled, and moved to another town, will probably need a series of Temporary licences. A Permanent licence cannot be used to cover multiple sites or dates, or and the holder cannot get a Permanent licence and later amend it to include different sites or dates.

3. For major events (events with more than 800 people present, including performers, staff and members of the public) contact us to discuss. This will be dealt with as a 'Temporary Event', but may be complicated so you should give as much notice as possible of your application.

The Resolution

A Public Entertainment Licence is required for the following activities or premises:

  • boxing, wrestling or another spectacle
  • motor cycle scrambling
  • dancing, a discotheque or amplified sound
  • an open air concert
  • an exhibition
  • a large fete with one or more public marquees
  • a fireworks display
  • an ice rink
  • a musical, dramatic or other stage or floor or radio or television performance or activity
  • a circus
  • a fairground (includes a ride of whatever size, speed or cost)
  • a swimming pool
  • a billiards, snooker and/or pool hall
  • an amusement arcade other than one licensed under the Gambling Act 2005

Interim arrangements

Even if premises are within the Resolution, they might not need a Licence.

Pending a full review of the Resolution, the council decided that activities would not need a Licence if either the premises are owned and/or operated by the council or all 4 of these criteria are met:

  • admission to the entertainment is free
  • there is no charge for the use of any facilities at the event
  • no donations towards the cost of the facilities or the costs of the place (such as rent, heating and lighting) are invited
  • the function is held by a charitable, religious, youth, recreational, community, political or similar organisation


This licence is not required in certain circumstances, for example:

  • an athletic/sports ground being used for athletic/sports purposes
  • when the entertainment being provided on the premises is licensed under the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 and is held during licensed hours
  • if the entertainment is covered by a Theatre or Cinema licence and you hold one of these.


All fees can be found on our licence fees webpage.

Please include the fee with your completed application form. Cheques payable to 'North Ayrshire Council'. If your applications is refused or granted for a shorter period than you applied, the fee will not be refunded or reduced.

What happens next?

We'll consult with Police Scotland and other council departments. We may arrange to carry out an inspection on your proposed premises to make sure they meet the required standards.

Your application will be advertised on this website. If you are applying for a Permanent Licence, members of the public are entitled to make objections or representations. If you are applying for a Temporary Licence, the council is not obliged to take any objections or representations into account before it makes a decision, but sometimes the council holds a hearing where members of the public can make comments.

If there is any comment from the public, Police Scotland or any council department, you will be told and your application will be referred to the Licensing Committee for a decision. If the committee decides to have a hearing, you will be invited to that and you will be able to speak to the committee. The majority of applications do not require a hearing and are granted by council officers.

Does the licence have any conditions?

The licence will have the council's Standard Conditions. In some cases the council may apply special conditions appropriate to your particular circumstances.

Any conditions will be set out in the licence document. If these are broken, the licence holder can be charged by Police Scotland and the Licensing Committee can suspend the licence after a hearing. You will be invited to such a hearing and will be able to speak to the committee.

Contact Licensing




01294 310000


Licensing Section, Legal Services, North Ayrshire Council, Cunninghame House, Irvine, KA12 8EE