Licensing and regulations for events

Basic information about whether you need to register or apply for a licence for your event


Raffles and lotteries
Bingo and other games of chance
Entertainment licences
Events on public land
Food and drink
Street collections
Street closures
Crèches and childcare services

We have more detailed information at the Resource Centre about the law in relation to community activities. If you are a community group based in Brighton and Hove please contact us if you can’t find the information you need here.

1. Raffles & lotteries

Schedule 11 of the Gambling Act 2005 outlines the conditions for running raffles or lotteries for clubs, societies, charities and other community organisations

You do not have to register a raffle or lottery if you are running:

A. An incidental non-commercial lottery

This is a raffle that takes place during the course of an event – eg the tickets are sold and the raffle drawn during a meeting, fête, dinner dance, or party. Tickets can only be sold at the event and the winners must be announced at the event. No more than £100 can be spent on organising costs, and no more than £500 can be spent on prizes.

B. A private society lottery

This includes raffles where the sale of tickets is restricted to members of your society (club, group or organisation). You can also sell tickets to non-members (guests) but only on your organisation’s premises. The entire proceeds of the lottery must be used for prizes and the benefit of the organisation, once any organising costs have been deducted.

C. A work lottery, residents’ lottery or customer lottery

These include raffles where tickets are only sold to:

  • people who all work on the same premises, or
  • people who all live on the same premises, or
  • people who are customers of the same business (so long as no prize is worth over £50).

These types of lotteries cannot be used for fundraising, however. All money raised must go towards buying the prizes and organising the lottery. Each ticket must state: the price of the ticket; the name and address of the promoters; who is entitled to buy a ticket; and that tickets are non-transferable once they have been sold.

Registering a Raffle or Lottery

A raffle which is run by a non-commercial society (such as a charity or community group), in which tickets are sold to members of the public in advance, is called a ‘Society Lottery’.

If the total proceeds of a Society Lottery are below £20,000 it is called a ‘small society lottery’ and you only have to register with the local council. There is an annual fee of £40 (which is reduced to £20 if you re-register for a second year). The relevant team at Brighton & Hove Council is the Health & Safety and Licensing Team.

If you are selling tickets worth over £20,000 the lottery will be classed as a ‘large society lottery’ and you will also have to register with the Gambling Commission. You will also have to register with the Gambling Commission if you sell more than £250,000 worth of tickets over one year (in separate raffles).

To register for a small society lottery you can download a form from the council website or request that they send you one. We suggest that you do this at least 28 days in advance. They will assess your application, including a police check for relevant offences, and issue a certificate if they are satisfied that you meet the criteria. You cannot start your lottery until a certificate has been received.

When your raffle is finished you will need to complete another form showing how much money you collected, and how much you spent on expenses and prizes. You must do this within three months of running your raffle.

The main conditions for a small society lottery are:

  • It can only be used to raise money to support the aims of your organisation. At least 20% of the proceeds must go to this. Up to 80% can be spent on prizes and expenses. No money can go to anything that does not support the aims of your organisation. There must be no private gain.
  • A member of your committee must be named as the ‘promoter’ and this must be agreed in writing by the committee.
  • Your raffle tickets can be paper or electronic, and must include the following information
    • the name of the group running the raffle
    • the name and address of the promoter (this can be the group’s address)
    • the date the raffle will be drawn
    • the price of the ticket (which must be the same for all tickets)
    • confirmation that the raffle has been registered with Brighton and Hove City Council.
  • Tickets can only be sold to those aged 16 or above.
  • Tickets cannot be sold in the street, but can be sold in a kiosk, shop or door-to-door.

There are free online programs you can use to design your own raffle tickets. You can print them at the Resource Centre.

You should keep clear records of all money spent, all money received, and how many tickets each individual has taken to sell. This is so that all money and tickets can  be accounted for and you don’t lose track of what you have sold.

See separate section about alcohol for regulations about having alcohol as raffle prizes.

For more help see our list of other providers of information about running gambling activities.

2. Bingo & other games of chance

The Gambling Act 2005 states that you do not have to have a licence to play bingo, or run a race night as long as you are playing for ‘good causes’ or as members of a club. This is called “non-commercial gaming”.

Bingo for good causes:

  • this can only take place at events when none of the proceeds are being used for private gain.
  • players must be informed of the organisation or good cause that will benefit from the money raised
  • you can play either “prize bingo” or “equal chance” bingo
  • it must take place in a venue without a premises licence (so not a pub, although pubs can run their own ‘pub bingo’, which is different).).

Prize Bingo:

In prize bingo all the prizes are put up in advance and are not dependent on the number of players or amount of money collected. There are no limits on the amount of money you can collect for admission fees or ticket sales, or on the value of prizes paid out.

Equal chance bingo:

In equal chance bingo the amount of money paid out in prizes is dependent on how much is collected in admission charges and sale of tickets.

  • you can charge each person up to £8 for admission and tickets
  • the total value of prizes must not exceed £600

Club Bingo:

  • only members and their guests can play
  • the maximum admission fee is £1
  • all expenses must be paid from the admission fee and not the fees charged for tickets
  • the maximum amount of money that can be taken in stakes , or paid out in prizes, is £2000. If you want a higher turnover you will need to apply for an operating licence from the Gambling Commission

Race Nights:

The regulations for Race Nights are very similar to those for bingo. You can run a Prize Race Night following the guidelines for prize bingo above, or an Equal Chance Race Night following the guidelines for Equal Chance Bingo above.

For more help see our list of other providers of information about running gambling activities.

3. Entertainment licences

If you are providing entertainment you may need two different licences:

Local council entertainment licences

Some types of entertainment require the premises to have a suitable licence from the local authority. The licence needed is a Premises Licence, a Club Premises Certificate or a Temporary Event Notice. The licence must specifically authorise the type of entertainment you are providing.

In general, an event taking place at night between 11pm and 8am require a licence. In addition, the following types of activity generally require licences:

  • amplified live or recorded music with an audience of more than 500 people;
  • recorded music on premises not licensed for the sale or supply of alcohol;
  • a performance of a play or a dance to an audience of more than 500 people;
  • indoor sporting events with more than 1,000 spectators;
  • boxing or wrestling;
  • screening a film to an audience.

Who does not need an entertainment licence?

There are some situations in which you do not need an entertainment licence. Bear in mind that you may still need a separate licence to play copyrighted material to show films or play music.

You do not need an entertainment licence for

  • Unamplified live music events which take place between 8am and 11pm
  • Events including live or recorded music with an audience of less than 500, which take place between 8am and 11pm, in a premises which is licensed to serve alcohol
  • Events including live or recorded music, or not-for-profit film showings, with an audience of less than 500, which take place between 8am and 11pm in a community venue (such as a village hall or community centre)
  • Events including live or recorded music, with an audience of less than 500, which are organised by a third party on a school, local authority or hospital premises and take place between 8am and 11pm.
  • Events including any type of regulated entertainment, with any audience size, which are organised by a school, local authority or hospital on their own premises and take place between 8am and 11pm.
  • Events including live or recorded music, with an audience of less than 500, which take place between 8am and 11pm in a workplace.

Getting an entertainment licence

If your event needs an entertainment licence,  check whether the venue has a Premises Licence or a Club Premises Certificate issued by the City Council. The licence must cover the activities you are organising, for example, some premises are licensed for music and dancing but not for stage and film shows. Your event will also have to take place in the premises’ licensed opening hours.

If the venue does not have a suitable licence, you will need to serve a Temporary Event Notice (TEN) on the Council and the Police at least 10 days before the event. TENs can cover events that last up to 96 hours and involve no more than 499 people. They cost £21.

You can download a Temporary Event Notice Application Form from the City Council website.

If you want to organise an event outdoors, eg a street party (see section 5 below) you need to contact the Council to find out if you should serve a Temporary Event Notice.

If you are in any doubt contact the Health & Safety and Licensing Team at Brighton and Hove City Council.

Performing or playing copyright material


If you want to perform music or a play written by someone else, or if you want to play recorded music or video, the premises you are using will need a licence to play copyrighted music.

  • If your event includes live music you must check the venue has a Performing Rights Society (PRS) licence.
  • If you are playing recorded music you must check the venue has a PRS licence AND a Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) licence.
  • Community buildings run by voluntary organisations can buy a joint PRS and PPL licence.
  • For more information contact Phonographic Performance Limited or PRS for Music.


If you wish to show a film in a place which is not a private home, you need a one-off licence giving you the right to show the film. You have to buy a new licence for every film. There are very few exceptions to this, one of which is that you do not need a licence to show a curriculum-based film in a state school.

To obtain a copyright licence to screen a film, contact Filmbank Distributors or Motion Picture Licensing Company (MPLC) (copyright licensing distributors on behalf of all major film studios). For useful information about organising film showings, see BFI Neighbourhood Cinema.

4. Alcohol

You are not allowed to sell alcohol unless you have a licence or have served a Temporary Event Notice. You can download a Temporary Event Notice Application Form from the council’s website, or contact the Health & Safety and Licensing Team.

If you want to sell alcohol you should first check that the venue you are using has a Premises Licence and that there is a named ‘supervisor’ who holds a Personal Licence to sell alcohol. Alternatively it may have a Club Premises Certificate which includes the sale of alcohol. If it does not have either of these you can serve a Temporary Event Notice on the Council and the Police at least 10 days before the event at a cost of £21.

The provision of bottles of alcohol as prizes in raffles and tombolas is exempt from the licensing regulations, provided the the raffle/lottery fulfils certain conditions (The Licensing Act 2003 [Section 175]). These are:

  • The raffle must be promoted as an incidental event (i.e. it’s not the main event) within an ‘exempt entertainment’ – defined as a bazaar, sale of work, fete, dinner, dance, sporting or athletic event, or other entertainment of a similar character;
  • after deduction of expenses, the whole proceeds of the entertainment are applied for purposes other than private gain;
  • the alcohol is in a sealed container;
  • no prize is a money prize;
  • tickets are only issued when the entertainment takes place (i.e. tickets are not sold in advance)
  • the raffle/lottery is not the main inducement to attend
  • it is NOT permissible to sell tickets which can then be exchanged for an alcoholic drink, or to ask for a donation in return for alcohol.

5. Events on public land

You have to apply to the council if you want to hold an event on public land. Permission for this needs to be arranged through the Events Office at least a month in advance. They can also help with advice and information about organising outdoor events.

6. Food & drink

You can sell or provide free food and non-alcoholic drinks as long as:

  • All profits go to the organisation
  • You ensure food is prepared in a hygienic manner and complies with the Food Safety Act.

If you are providing food occasionally (ie less than once a month) or the foods you are providing are low risk foods (eg tea, biscuits, packaged foods stored at room temperature), then you don’t need to register or get any permission.

If your food activity is more regular, or you are providing higher risk foods (eg hot food or food that needs to be kept cold), then you may need to register with the Food Safety Team at Brighton & Hove City Council. See the Food Standards Agency guidance for charities and community groups for more details on who needs to register.

7. Street Collections

You need to apply for a licence for a street collection or to collect money at events and in public places. Contact the Health & Safety and Licensing Team at Brighton & Hove Council and they will advise what sort of licence you need for your event and send you the relevant forms, or you can download the forms from the council’s website. Town centre collections are popular with many organisations, and so the Council takes bookings and will allocate you with a permit for a particular day, time and location in town. This avoids organisations competing with each other. The council advises that you book your street collection well in advance as they get very booked up – particularly for the summer months.

You will need to:

  • Apply by 1st January for a collection in Brighton town centre that year (as collection dates for a whole year are scheduled at the beginning of that year).
  • Apply at least 28 days in advance for collections in areas other than Brighton town centre.
  • Complete a straightforward application form.
  • Have a responsible person as the applicant for the licence – the Council will run a Police Check on this person.
  • Label all your collection tins with the name of your organisation.
  • Seal the collection tins with security labels.
  • Supply the Council with a ‘return of expenses’ form within a month of the collection
  • Place an advert in the Argus after the collection to let the public know how much money was raised – the Argus will usually place an item in the editorial section free of charge. The Argus: Newsroom 544516. Or send your report online at

There is no charge for a Street Collection Permit.

Collection tins are available for hire at the Resource Centre free of charge. We provide security seals if you require them. If you are using your own collection tins you can purchase security labels/ringseals from Angal Ltd.

8. Street Closures

Street Party

If you want close your street for a street party you need to get permission from the Council and apply for a temporary traffic regulation order. There is no charge for this. However, if there is a commercial or business element to your event there is an admin fee of £300.

The first step you need to take is to contact the Highway Events Team at the Council to find out if it is feasible for your road to be closed. Some roads are essential access routes for the emergency services and cannot be closed. If a nearby street is to be closed on the same day, the Council may not allow your street to close as well.

If it is feasible, you then need to find out if the majority of the people who live in the street you want to close are happy for you to do so, and that no one has any strong objections. To do this you will need to take a petition door-to-door and get people to sign their names against their house number. The council’s guidance is that it is desirable to get a good majority of residents to sign.

Once you’ve got your petition signed, and at least 28 days before the date of your street party, contact the Council to apply for permission to close the road. The council officer will then tell you what you need to do to proceed. They will contact the emergency services, bus companies and any other organisation who may need to be aware that your road is going to be closed for a day.

You will need to plan:

  • what signs you will put up before your event, and on the day, to notify road users of the road closure.
  • where you will put up barriers to prevent vehicles from entering.

You are responsible for placing the barriers and signs and for removing them again at the end of the event.

There is a lot of useful information and guidance on our list of other people who provide information on organising a street party.

You may particularly want to look at the Streets Alive website.

Street meet

If you are not able to close your road, you can still have an informal ‘street meet’ on a driveway, parking area, pavement, front garden or end of a cul-de-sac. This does not usually require permission from the council, but you may to check with them first. Then just pick a spot in the street to have your get-together.

Play Streets

You can apply for a regular (monthly) street closure for the purpose of street play. The procedure is the same as for a one-off street party, but you only need to apply once for dates up to a year ahead. The application form is available from the Highway events team.


If you are holding a parade and it is necessary to close any roads to ensure the safety of the participants you need to apply to the Events Office for a ‘temporary traffic regulation order’. Any costs associated with the closure, diversion signing and stewarding have to be borne by the event organisers.

9. Crèches & Childcare services

Crèches and other childcare services are covered by the Children Act.

Most crèches need to be registered with Ofsted, but some small, one-off crèches don’t. For more information about this see our page on Running a Crèche.

Updated October 2016