TIP! - What Permits do I Need to Organise an Event

TIP! - What Permits do I Need to Organise an Event

When you are organising an event, you will probably need to apply for various permits and permissions. The following list gives an idea of the kinds of permits you are most likely to require.


The number and type of permits can vary widely from region to region, and for this reason I do not propose to go into detail. Ask for these details at the town hall which is responsible for the town/city where your event is taking place. In fact, it is always a good idea to let the town hall know what you are planning, even if there is no obligation to do so (although there often is).


Copyright, royalties and performance rights

When there is music at your event, even if it is only background music, you will need to pay royalties to the composer and performance rights to the performers/producers.


Excess noise

Does music play an important role in your event or are your guests likely to make a lot of noise themselves? If so, you may need a permit to exceed existing noise limits. This limit – expressed as a maximum number of decibels is usually part of the environment permit that you will almost certainly need. In particular, noise levels in residential areas and on Sundays are subject to strict monitoring and control. For this reason, some event venues are equipped with a 'sound restrictor'.


In some cases you may not need to apply for an environment permit. Ask the relevant local authority for full details about possible exemptions. In recent years the regulations relating to noise emissions have become stricter, so that it is advisable to measure the likely noise volume of your event in advance (for larger manifestations, such as fairs and festivals, this is compulsory). In some countries the issuing of ear protectors to audiences is also obligatory, if the decibel level exceeds the permitted norm.


Erection of tents, podia, scaffolding and tribunes

You must ask the permission of the local authority when you want to erect a tent, podium, scaffolding or tribune (for public seating). The fire brigade will need to inspect both the location and the structure and declare them to be safe. To apply for this permit, you will need the following documents/information: a ground plan (marked with emergency exits and evacuation routes), the dimensions, the layout, the materials used, the number of guests, etc.


Hours of closing

Many locations operate strict hours of opening/closing, which they are loathe to exceed. Legislation states that local inhabitants may not be inconvenienced by your event or your guests after 10 o'clock in the evening. Do you want an exception to be made to this general rule? If so, you will need to ask the permission of the local authority.


Serving of alcohol

When you want to serve alcoholic drinks at your event, you will need two separate permits: a licence to serve beer and other (alcoholic) beverages and a license to serve spirits (strong drink). In many cases, your venue will already possess these permits. If this is not the case, or if you are creating your own venue, you will need to apply to the local authority.



There are very strict regulations relating to the preparation and serving of food. Always check that your caterers or the proprietors of food stalls (chips, hotdogs, etc.) are in possession of all the permits they require.



If you are planning to use fireworks in a professional event context, you will need to have an operator’s license from the local or provincial authority. If you engage the services of a pyrotechnics company, you can usually ask them to obtain the necessary license for you. This will usually be quicker than applying yourself. Of course, the company must also be in possession of all necessary permits and permissions to cover its own activities.

EVENTS - Kevin Van der Straeten

More about this topic and lots of other tips about organising events can be found in the book EVENTS.

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