If you want to show films to the public, you will need a cinema licence. This includes the use of land or open space. Films include any exhibition of moving pictures, and recorded films and screening of performances.
In addition, where it is intended to organise a film exhibition at premises wholly or mainly for children, you will have to obtain the council's consent.
You need to apply for a cinema licence if you do not have a public entertainment licence which could cover the appropriate cinema conditions.
View cinema licence standard conditions (PDF 17KB). We may also attach additional conditions which must be complied with.
A cinema licence is not needed for:
- Showing films in a private house, to which the public are not admitted, provided the exhibition is not for private gain
- Non-commercial film exhibitions to which the public are not admitted or are admitted without payment, or exhibitions by exempted societies or organisations
- Occasional and exceptional exhibitions - where premises are used on no more than six days in the calendar year; however, the owner must give the council, the Fire Authority and the Chief Officer of Police no less than seven days notice in writing of their intention to use the building/structure to exhibit a film
- Moveable buildings/structures, where the owner has been granted a cinema licence in respect of the building/structure by the Local Authority in which they ordinarily reside; however, the owner must give the council, the Fire Authority and the Chief Officer of Police no less than two days notice in writing of their intention to use the building/structure to exhibit a film
- Screening films in a hall with which has a public entertainment licence - that licence can be varied to include the cinema licence conditions
- Screening of television programmes at the time they are received
View more details about cinema licence exemptions in the Cinemas Act 1985.
The fee for a cinema licence application is £99. The fee is non-refundable.
You can pay by either:
Unfortunately we are unable to accept payment by BACs, cheques or cash.
How to apply
To apply for a cinema licence, complete the cinema licence application form (PDF 205KB).
Please send your competed form by email to email@example.com or by post to, please note physical mail is only checked once a week:
Legal and People
You must also send copies of your application form to:
- Police Scotland, Blackhall Road, Inverurie, AB51 3QD
- The Firemaster, Scottish Fire and Rescue, North Anderson Drive, Aberdeen, AB15 6DW
What happens after you apply
We will consult our Environmental Health team before we make a decision.
If there are no objections, your licence will be issued to you. If there are objections then there will have to be a hearing, details of which will be sent to you.
Duration of the licence
If granted the cinema licence is valid for one year, beginning from the date of issue.
The licence can also be renewed. If an application to renew is submitted before the current cinema licence expires, you can continue exhibiting films after the expiry date until the application for renewal is determined.