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Where Am I Allowed To Busk ? Permits and Permission

Nowadays, town and city councils are clamping down on unauthorized busking in an attempt to clear the streets of unsavory types hassling people for money. You often need a permit to perform or busk and if you don’t have one you will be removed by the police, even if you are really good.

These permits can generally be obtained from the local borough council and are either free or will cost between £10 – £20. You will most likely need a couple of passport size photo’s and you may have to audition in front of a judging member of the council to prove you are good enough before they issue you with one. Once you have been issued with a permit, you will have to sign something saying you will abide by the rules imposed on street buskers and performers. The licence could be valid for a year or more, depending on the local authority.

The rules generally imposed on buskers in the forms you sign are usually along the lines of – don’t make a nuisance of your self, don’t stay in the same spot for more than 45 minutes and don’t start begging for money etc. There are also hundreds of other minor regulations in there as well but the main ones are just common sense.

You may also be provided with a map of the town centre areas you are permitted to busk in.

Some boroughs still allow you to perform without a licence, but the police may move you on if you are really awful. It can be down to the discretion of the officer who questions you.

No Busking Sign

Most indoor shopping arcades will not allow you to busk on their premises, but if these complexes are outdoors and made up of a network of local streets, then you may be able to obtain permission from the shopping centre manager to busk on their grounds. Again you will probably have to audition in front of the manager and may need to ring and ask permission every time you want to play there.

If you are planning on going to a city or town you have never busked before, it is definitely a good idea to ring the local authorities before you go, as you could find you have a wasted journey.

First ring the town or city’s police station and ask if you need a licence to busk. They might say you don’t need one or they may point you to the local council. Then give them a ring and ask if you need a permit and what the process is to apply for one. If you are busking on private property or in a shopping centre, ring the centre manager. Be extremely polite and if you are lucky they may give you a trial run.

Be positive about your playing skills and don’t get upset and give them a load of abuse if you get turned down. The chances are they have already had to deal with many other so called ‘buskers’ on their territory begging for money, being a nuisance and playing the same song all day long on a clapped out guitar with three strings.

Remember you are trying to add something positive to the dynamics of the street or place you are busking in, and it’s your job to portray the image of a busker in the best light possible, so don’t let the side down, even if you get turned down.

Keep trying and sooner or later you’ll get lucky.

If you are going busking, then there are a few things you may need to take with you.

Other Posts of Interest

What Equipment Do I Need ?

Busking
How Much Can I Expect to Earn ?
Famous People Busking
World Record Busking Attempt
Street Musician Busking Pot

Revised 03.04.09

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80 comments to Busking Permits & Getting Permission To Perform

  • lucy

    i want to sing in the streets of essex, do you have to be a certain age or have parants pomission, i love to sing and would like to become a famouse 1 someday but i wanted to raise money to buy a blackberry ,,, im 11 by the way

  • Please could my friend Harlem and I come for an audition to try and attain a busking permit?

    My emial add is [removed by admin]@hotmail.co.uk and my phone number is 075[removed by admin]

  • Hi Ben, sorry for the late reply, been too busy to edit my comments lately. Just to let you know, I have passed your address and phone number onto Jennie and hopefully she will give you a call.

    I hope it goes well for you guys. Happy Busking.

  • Kaitlinn

    Hey :)
    I am theoretically putting on a production of Lysistrata in the streets of Tottenham, Reading, Bristol, Nottingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds. I have to do a budget for the entire production to pitch to my teacher. Do I need a separate buskers permit/licence for each place or is there one available to cover you all over the Uk? Also, how would I go about putting on an ameture production in the street? What would I have to take into consideration?
    Thank You :)

  • lak

    You will need to contact your local council to find out if you are able to do this, I would also advise you to contact your local police station to find out if you will be breaking any bylaws. My daughter busks and she is 11, I would not advise you to do this without parental supervision or parental input as aswell as the council/police regulations there are also unofficial politeness rules between buskers, and when you busk you meet all sorts of people, some good, some not so good. I was advised that my daughter needed to be supervised by a responsible adult while busking until she was at least 14, and I actually enjoy listening to her and being there and the confidence that she has gained is fantastic.. Include your parents, get them on side and get them to check out the rules/regs for your area.. good luck and enjoy (with your parents)

  • Isaac

    Hi :)
    I am trying to earn money (for an iPhone) and I wanted to busk to earn some money. I would play the guitar for busking. I dont have a liscence and I wanted to know how to get one?
    plz help!!

  • Taylor

    I need to get a busking licence for london- can someone forward me details? I need to make enough money to live this month so a quick reply would be awesome! Thanks!

  • Vic

    Thanks for the very useful information and advise on busking, Have a look at one of my songs I have written and performed – Vic Angell-Butterfly lane on You Tube.

  • Tendring Council are looking for street entertainers for their town centre and seafront areas. We can provide access to electricity if required and licences as necessary. We are not able to pay you but any money you make is yours to keep. If this is something you are interested in please contact me jweavers@tendringdc.gov.uk

  • niall

    i need a licence for Chester and i don’t know were from

  • rachel

    i’m 13 and i want to busk in london with my friend for charity, i was wondering if i could get some information about the terms of busking in london, thanks :)

  • Hi, I just wanted to ask what the age limit would be if I wanted to busk in East London because I’m a young teen so I’m a bit confused. btdubs I’m 14 turning 15.

  • Do you need a license to busk in graves-end and the kent area generally?

  • David

    i am goin to be getting an acoutic guitar for my 13th birthday i live in bury at i need to know if i need a licnce to play and busck and wjere can i get a licence from???

  • Harry

    Hi :)
    i would like to earn money by busking but i think i need a permit in leeds… Do i and if i do, how?

  • Kuki

    My friends and I want to busk in town. We are 12/13 and live in Staffordshire. Can we busk and do we need a permit?

  • Josh

    I found out that you don’t need a lisence to do busking in Camden. Also that I don’t think there’s an age limit for anyone who’s asking however you need to have a resonabley good talent. This is because you will have an audition with your local council so I’ve seen a few younger people about 11 and 13 say they want to do it – I think if you guys have the confidence to do it you should try your best but keep in mind that people’s views on what ever you do may not be nice.
    And keep in mind that there are places that have banned busking and you will be fined lots of money.

    I want to start busking but I’m going to wait until I am confident at playing lots more songs.
    Good luck to anyone who’s starting

  • Nel Nicolas

    Hi there I am after a busking permit so I am able to earn a bit of holiday money. I am 13 years old and I was wondering how I could get hold of one. Thank you very much, I would really appreciate it if you could get in touch. Thank you!

  • Andy

    Hi, I want to do a one off busk for charity in Romford. Will I need to go through the whole audition process and have to get a licence or can I just get it ok’d by someone in either the council or police?

  • Tim

    ^^To the people, asking I believe it is only legal to busk if you are 14 or other. The police and council never seem to know the laws about busking either. It is not illegal in itself but you always risk being moved on by the police or businesses.

  • James

    Hi Lucy I would like to sing and play my Uke in Essex..mabe we could work together.

  • James

    Lucy..sorry I dident say Im 13..and my Dad is finding out about a licence at the moment

  • lak

    we live in cornwall, my daughter is 12 and busks, you need a supervising adult, watch out for by laws as they differ from town to town, contact the police and the council, they will advise, I found that the pcso’s were also very helpful, but most importantly is get an adult to ask the other buskers for the unwritten rules of busking as you dont want to tread on anyones toes when starting off..we did not need a licence down here,,, but I would advise that until you are 14 you have a supervising adult.

  • James

    Do not busk in Darlington. They do have a busking license available, however you have to move on after 1 hr. There are only five pitches located in the town. The shop owners of a certain high street clothing retail outlet are not very accomodating towards to buskers and will get local street wardens to come up to you and move you on after only being at the pitch for 20 mins. I myself play the Scots bagpipes and I am up to grade one standard, I have played this instrument for 27 years. I have played in many towns and cities in the UK and abroad and have never met or encountered such prejudice, lack of understanding or total ignorance towards street performers.
    Darlington Borough Council seriously need to rethink their busking policies. Just one final thing for them to consider. It is ok for musicians to turn up and play amplified music in Darlington Town Centre to busk, stay in the same spot most of the afternoon and not get moved on !! Ridiculous.

  • Demeon

    I want to busk in Orlando,FL but is that allowed? I am a dancer and I want to raise money to go to college. I am not fortunate to be able to pay tuition and I don’t know how far financial aid will get me. I sm 20 years old and if I could dance for the rest of my life as a job then I would do so. but I can’t because I need a stable living. I just need help paying for college. Please Help me!

  • latayan

    what if you wish to sing in public with your instrument however you aren’t looking for donations? Do you still need a licence?

  • kay

    Hi, my friends say in a really talented beatboxer and that i should try busking. I considers it for a while and came to the conclusion i could do with the money. I am 15 and was wondering if there were any age limits to busking and how do you go about getting a licence.

  • Joshua sherratt

    Me and a few friends are in a dance crew and have seen many people dancing for money on the streets, we would like to do the same, I would like to know if there is anywhere we have to go for a lisence sine we are not able to travel far :(

  • Emily

    I am 16 and i was wondering if you need a license to busk any where in the cumbria area ?

  • The ONLY boroughs in the UK that require a busking license are Hillingdon and (from Feb) Camden. I hope the answers nearly all of the enquiries above..

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