Guide for parents whose children take part in performances

There are regulations in force to protect your child whilst they are taking part in a performance.

The following information will tell you more about the laws that exist to protect the welfare of children and young people whilst they are performing. This helps to prevent them from being exploited.

Does my child need a licence?

All children under the statutory school leaving age, even babies, need a licence. There are just a few exceptions but if a child will miss school for rehearsals or performances, they must have a licence. A child does not need a licence once they have past the official school-leaving age - after the last Friday in June of the school year in which they are 16 (Year 11).

If your child is involved in anything to do with entertainment and no one has mentioned a licence, get in touch with us and can tell you whether your child needs a licence.


  • If a child performs without a licence when they should have one, that is illegal.
  • A child may not be covered by insurance if they are injured as a result of an accident that happened at the place of performance.

What is a performance?

It is up to the local authority to decide this and sometimes it is difficult. However, 'a performance' will cover a stage show, TV programmes and commercials, films and modelling assignments. It even extends to paid sport.

How do I apply for a licence?

If your child is involved in any show, amateur or professional, including dance shows, the producer should apply to us for the application form for the licence.

If your child is registered with an agent, you need to check that the agent or production company is applying for the licence.

The licence must be issued by the local authority where a child lives.

The producer fills in the first part of the form and passes it to you to complete the second part. Once you have filled in your part of the form, you need to give it back to the producer to send to Surrey County Council, together with:

  • two photos
  • a copy of your child's birth certificate
  • where appropriate we will need written confirmation from your child's school that they have no objection to them being absent to take part in the performance

There may be other documents that are required to support your child's application which we will ask the production to send us.

We will send you a copy of the licence once it has been issued.

Is there a time limit to apply for a performance licence?

Your child needs to have their licence before the performance takes place.

The law allows us to ask for 21 days to process a licence application. However, we usually ask for the application to be sent to us at least 10 full working days before the show starts. We always try our best to issue a licence during this timescale, however if the application is late, we may not always be able to do so.

Schools (but not dance schools) are exempt from needing to have licences for school performances.

For how many hours can my child take part in a performance?

There are strict rules about the number of days and hours that a child can take part in a performance.

Please contact our Child Employment Team to check that your child is performing within the legally permitted times.

Who looks after my child whilst they are performing?

All children and young people must be looked after either by their own parent or by a local authority approved chaperone whilst they are taking part in a performance. You cannot look after another child other than your own (even with parental permission) unless you are an approved chaperone.

If you wish to apply to become an approved chaperone, please contact the Child Employment Team for the full application process.

We would urge you to check who is looking after your child and whether they have a valid chaperone approval.

Contact details

If you require further information please contact: Child Employment Team at

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