Films in Licensed Premises

Showing Films in Licensed Premises

Where a licensed premises intends to show films, the Licensing Act 2003 (the Act) requires a mandatory condition to be placed on the Premises Licence or Club Premises Certificate, which restricts the admission of children (meaning persons aged under 18) to the exhibition of any film in accordance with EITHER –

  • The BBFC classification, or
  • Where the film is not classified by the BBFC, any recommendation made by the Licensing Authority.
What is classed as a ‘film’?

Under the Act, the definition of film has been expanded to mean any exhibition of moving pictures, including feature films, adverts and trailers. This definition also covers the showing of video and other visual image media, including non-live digital exhibitions of plays, operas, pop concerts etc.

Are there exemptions?

Yes, the exhibition of a film is exempt from regulation by the Act if either –

  • it consists of or forms part of an exhibit put on show for any purposes of a museum or art gallery, or
  • the sole or main purpose is to demonstrate any product, advertise any goods or services, or provide information, education or instruction. 

If in doubt, contact the Licensing Unit.

What do I need to do if I wish to show a film and my Licence/Certificate authorises it?

If you intend to show only films classified by the BBFC, then you do not need to contact the Licensing Authority.

If you intend to show films not classified by the BBFC, then you must contact the Licensing Authority to obtain a recommendation on the restriction of access of children to the film at least 28 days before you intend to show them.

What do I need to do if my Licence/Certificate does NOT authorise the showing of film(s)?

If your licence does not authorise the showing of films, you will either need to apply to the Licensing Authority for a minor variation to your licence to add this to your licence, or you can apply for a Temporary Event Notice. 

You are advised to contact the Licensing Unit to discuss which of the above would be suitable for you.

What do I do if my film is not classified by the BBFC?

The Licensing Authority will need to classify the film. 

A ‘Film Synopsis’ form which details the information the authority requires to assess the film is available to download under related documents on this page. The form should be completed and submitted to the authority a minimum of 28 days before the proposed showing. The Licensing Authority will then classify the film and notify you accordingly.

The BBFC updated its guidance in June 2009 and has published guidance on its website

The BBFC classifies films using the following symbols/logos:

  •  U - Universal – suitable for audiences aged four years and over
  • PG – Parental Guidance. Some scenes may not be suitable for young children
  • 12A – Suitable for 12 years and over. Not recommended for children under that age. Under 12s only admitted if accompanied by an adult. Responsibility for allowing children under 12 to view lies with the accompanying adult.
  • 15 – Passed only for viewing by persons aged 15 years and over.
  • 18/R18 – Passed only for viewing by persons aged 18 years and over.

Note – Films classified R18 can only be shown in specially licensed sex cinemas.

Where the authority needs to classify a film, it will use the general principles of guidance and consumer advice issued by the BBFC to determine its recommendation on the restriction of access of children to the film.

The authority will not use the BBFC symbols when classifying a film but will instead make reference to the maximum age permitted to view the films.

If you require further information on the showing of films in licensed premises, please contact the licensing unit.