Cinema Licence

In terms of the Cinemas Act 1985 cinema premises require to be licensed by their local authority. This licensing scheme is administered by the Council's Licensing Team.

The impact of the Coronavirus (COVID -19) continues to have a significant impact on the processing of licence applications.

If you need to get in touch with the Licensing Team, please do so by email to the following address:

Email enquiries will be prioritised and responded to on a priority/urgent basis. We cannot accept phone calls at present.

In the meantime, applications for licences and permits (with the exception of hire car applications, please refer to the hire car webpages for details of how to make these) should be posted to the

Licensing Team,
West Lothian Council,
Civic Centre,
EH54 6FF

along with cheques or postal orders for payment of any fee required and copies of all required supporting documentation. 

If you are unable to post your application and fee please contact the Licensing Team by email.

Please be aware that there will likely be delays in the processing of applications due to changes in working conditions at present. 

If you are an event organiser you should note that when possible applicants will be able to email amended applications for events which have been postponed due to Covid-19 as long as the details of the event remain exactly the same and only the event date is changing, any other changes to event details will require a new application to be submitted in the usual manner.   

The Team are able to provide general guidance on the scheme but cannot assist you to complete your application form or provide legal advice on whether a licence is required. You should seek legal advice from a solicitor or advice centre if you are unsure as to whether you require a licence.

Which premises require a cinema licence from the Council?

In terms of Section 1 of the Cinemas Act 1985, a licence is required where premises are to be used for a film exhibition.

A film exhibition is defined as "any exhibition of moving pictures which is produced otherwise than by simultaneous reception and exhibition of:-

  • Television Programmes broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corporation or by the Independent Broadcasting Authority, or
  • Programmes included in a Cable Programme service which is, or does not require to be, licensed under Section 4 of the Cable and Broadcasting Act 1984".

In addition to the requirement for a licence, 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.

Are there any exemptions from requiring a cinema licence?

Which organisations are exempt from the need to obtain a cinema licence?

How do I apply for a licence?

How will my application be decided?

What standard conditions will be applied if my licence is granted?

What if my details change or I no longer wish to hold my licence?

How do you complain about a licence holder?