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Apply for a busking and street entertainment licence

Apply for a licence to perform in regulated areas.

Published on: 15 March 2021

Last updated: 15 March 2021

The Westminster Busking and Street Entertainment Code of Conduct

There are seven principles that make up our Code of Conduct.

If you’re performing anywhere in Westminster you should abide by this Code, which sets out how you can perform responsibly and be considerate of other performers, surrounding residents, businesses and other users of the shared public space.

1. Safety first

All buskers and street entertainers should be confident that both they and their performance is safe for those enjoying the performance. This means that:

  • you should hold public liability insurance of at least £2 million
  • you must ensure that no one could trip over your equipment, and you must never leave equipment unattended
  • no naked flame, pyrotechnics, fireworks, knives, sharp objects or anything similar should be used as part of the performance 
  • no unlicensed animals should accompany the busker or street entertainer, or be used as part of the performance

2. Performance hours

All busking and street entertainment should only take place between the hours of 10am and 9pm. Any amplified entertainment beyond 9pm and before 8am is an offence under the Control of Pollution Act 1974 and you may be liable to enforcement action.

3. Avoid causing a nuisance

Buskers and street entertainers should take all reasonable steps to make sure their performance does not adversely impact those around them. This means:

  • sound as a result of any performance does not cause nuisance to persons in nearby property
  • if you use an amplifier this should never be powered with any external power sources, for example extra battery packs or generators
  • you should have a full and varied repertoire that avoids repeating sounds, songs, or music
  • you should be aware that noise can be generated by the audience
  • you should be aware of other buskers and street entertainers in the area and space yourself far enough away to avoid sound clash - a good indication of an appropriate space between performers is around three car lengths (50ft)
  • a performance should not be longer than 40 minutes and there should be a 20 minute break before the next busker or street entertainer performs
  • you should respect other buskers and street entertainers and cooperate with any queuing system in the area by leaving the location after you have finished your performance.

4. Don’t cause an obstruction

Buskers and street entertainers should make sure their performance and audience does not cause an
obstruction to pedestrians, road users and neighbouring premises. This means that:

  • you should never block any entrances or exits to premises, and no pedestrians should spill out onto the road to get past you or your audience. An obstruction is likely to be caused if a wheelchair or double pushchair cannot comfortably move past
  • you should stop your performance or ask other buskers and street entertainers to help you take steps to control your audience if they cause an obstruction. If your attempts to relieve the audience from causing an obstruction do not work, you should cease your performance

5. Co-operate with Authorised Officers and the Police

Council officers, authorised officers of the council, police officers or police community support officers may at times ask that you adjust your performance or move locations in the event of an emergency, public disorder, planned events, or to prevent a nuisance from being caused. Our officers have a right to do this without fear of threatening or abusive behaviour.

You should co-operate with any such reasonable requests, however if you have any concerns about the conduct of officers carrying out their duties you can contact the team.

6. Only sell merchandise if you have permission

You may only sell items if:

In the busking and street entertainment regulated areas, there is a special permit you can apply for which allows you to sell merchandise items directly associated with your performance (for example a musician selling their CDs).

Buskers and street entertainers will be granted a temporary street trading licence for a nominal fee if you are a Busking and Street Entertainment Licence Holder trading in the regulated areas and in accordance with your licence conditions

7. Talk to the council and the local community, and use the Forum

The best way to promote busking and build partnerships with residents and businesses is to keep in frequent contact with us, and engage with your local community. There are many ways to do this including talking to local businesses and residents directly, joining the dedicated Busking and Street Entertainment. You can get in contact with the Forum by emailing [email protected]