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Event Licensing

The National Arts Council (NAC)’s Arts Resource Hub (ARH) aims to support arts Self-Employed Persons (SEPs) and freelance practitioners in Singapore to unlock new opportunities and grow meaningful careers for the long term. This is a non-exhaustive Event Licensing Guide introducing the different types of permits and licenses that artists might require when organising an arts event in Singapore, as well as some useful tips to complete the process.

Note: This guide is non-exhaustive. Regulations and processes can change, so do seek clarification with relevant authorities wherever necessary, or consult experienced arts managers who have gone through this process.

Content-related Permits and Licenses

(i) Arts Entertainment Licence (AEL) by Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA)

‘Arts Entertainment’ includes stage plays, literary readings, musicals, performance art, dance and music performances, art exhibitions including photography exhibitions, stand-up comedies, sketches, variety shows and pop rock concerts.

All arts entertainment events open to the public will require an Arts Entertainment Licence (AEL), unless exempted. Exempted forms of arts entertainment include performances of instrumental music, classical music and traditional arts, amongst others. Performances with a target audience of children aged 12 years or below are also exempted. If there is any uncertainty however, you can write to IMDA to get confirmation that your programme is indeed exempted from licence application. For more information on exempted arts entertainment, click here.

Multimedia used in an arts entertainment will also need to be submitted together with the AEL application as part of the submission materials. The overall rating issued to the event will take into account the multimedia content as well. Hence, if the multimedia content falls within the R18 rating, this rating will apply to the entire event.

For more information on the AEL, please visit IMDA’s website here.

AELs are issued with a rating and/or consumer advice by classifying content according to its suitability for different age groups. There may also be additional conditions that event organisers will need to comply with, e.g. barricades. IMDA’s guiding principles in classifying content is to protect the young while enabling adults to make informed viewing choices of arts entertainment events. The ratings issued are mostly advisory in nature, ranging from General, Advisory and Advisory 16 with only the R18 being a restricted rating where age checks will need to be made at the door.

For more on the classification considerations, download the Arts Entertainment Classification Code.

IMDA guidelines state that applications need to be made at least two months before the start date of your event, but where possible, it is advisable to receive your AEL and the corresponding rating for each programme before marketing your arts event e.g. selling tickets. As such, event organisers should plan ahead and apply early to include ratings and advisories in your publicity material. This can help you avoid any potential ticket refunds.

A longer processing time might be needed if particular programmes in your arts festival are more controversial and may require consultation with the Arts Consultative Panel or other relevant stakeholders.

As part of IMDA’s AEL licensing conditions, all marketing communications materials must also comply with the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice administered by the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS). For example, if an arts event is classified as R18, it should not be promoted on broadcast media.

For the application of an AEL, click here and follow the steps below:

  1. In the <Search Box> type in ‘Arts Entertainment Licence’;
  2. Press <Search>  and you will see a whole list of Licences;
  3. Look for ‘Arts Entertainment Licence’ and click <Add to Selection> ;
  4. Click the Red Box which says <Review and Apply> ;
  5. Click <Proceed> ;
  6. Click <Apply> ;
  7. Login with your Corp Pass or Singpass
  8. Proceed to the Form


  1. The seating capacity of the venue(s) of your performances, ticket prices, as well as number of seats you are intending to sell must be submitted;
  2. Artists details are required as well, hence, ensure their details have been submitted to you in advance. Details include your artists’ Full Name/NRIC for Singapore artists, Passport Name/Passport No. for foreign artists, Date of Birth/Place of Birth/Nationality for both. This can be submitted as an excel file or details individually keyed in by you.
  3. At the end of the Form, there is a section where you are required to submit the programme’s synopsis, scripts, any relevant videos etc. If your file is too big, choose the offline submission. IMDA will then get in touch with you for the necessary submissions.

(ii) Film Classification and Film Exhibition Licence by IMDA

For your public film screenings, you will need film classification for each and every film shown. In addition, you will need a film exhibition licence for films classified with an NC16, M18 or R21 rating. The description of each of the classification categories and the indication of a suitable audience in terms of age can be found in the ‘Film Classification Guidelines’.

To obtain classifications of your films, submit an online application here. Do remember to send the details of your film screeners too, within stipulated deadline.

(iii) Police Permit for Public Talk by Singapore Police Force (SPF)

For arts festival with public lectures and talks, you will need to apply for a Police Permit for each and every one of them. For an overview of the guidelines and exemptions, click here.

For the application of a Police Permit for Public Talk, click here and follow the steps below:

  1. In the <Search Box>, type in ‘Police Permit for Public Talk’;
  2. Press <Search> and you will see a whole list of Licences;
  3. Look for ‘Police Permit for Public Talk’ and click <Add to Selection>;
  4. Click the Red Box which says <Review and Apply>;
  5. Click <Proceed>;
  6. Click <Apply>;
  7. Login with your Corp Pass or Singpass
  8. Proceed to the Form
Location-based Permits and Licences

(i) Public Entertainment Licence (PEL) by Singapore Police Force (SPF)

A Public Entertainment Licence (PEL) or an Arts Entertainment Licence (AEL) is required under the Public Entertainments and Meetings Act (Chapter 257) for any public entertainment that is provided in any place to which the public has access to, whether paid or otherwise, unless exempted. Hence, it is advisable to always check with SPF or IMDA if your arts festival needs either a Public Entertainment Licence and an Arts Entertainment Classification or an Arts Entertainment Licence only.

For the application of a PEL, click here and follow the steps below:

  1. In the <Search Box>, type in ‘Public Entertainment Licence’;
  2. Press <Search> and you will see a whole list of Licences;
  3. Look for ‘Public Entertainment Licence’ and click <Add to Selection>;
  4. Click the Red Box which says <Review and Apply>;
  5. Click <Proceed>;
  6. Click <Apply>;
  7. Login with your Corp Pass or Singpass
  8. Proceed to the Form


  1. Determine the area(s)your arts festival will be utilising;
  2. Firm up the position(s) of the stage(s) and the food stalls;
  3. Fix your entry and exit points;
  4. Determine the positions of your security personnel;
  5. Firm up the locations of the barricades (SPF will advise if additional barricades are required and the type of barricades needed for your arts festival);
  6. Estimate your audience numbers;
  7. Confirm the list of performances presented on the stage(s);
  8. Get the full list of food stalls operating at your arts festival

(ii) Temporary Change of Use Permit by Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF)

A Temporary Change of Use Permit is commonly known as a “Temporary Permit” and approval by SCDF has to be sought for anything from stage shows to exhibitions and carnivals, and where temporary structures like tents, stages, booths, stalls and kiosks are used, whether within a building or at an outdoor area. Obtaining approval from SCDF is to ensure that adequate fire safety measures have been provided for. For example, outdoor F&B pop-ups, stage(s) for a music concert will be considered “temporary structures”, hence, a Temporary Change of Use Permit will be required.

For more information on the Temporary Change of Use Permit and Fire Safety Conditions, please visit SCDF’s website here.

For the application of the Temporary Change of Use Permit, click here and follow the steps below:

  1. In the <Search Box>, type in ‘Temporary Change of Use Permit’;
  2. Press <Search> and you will see a whole list of Licences;
  3. Look for ‘Application for Temporary Change of Use Permit’ and click <Add to Selection>;
  4. Click the Red Box which says <Review and Apply>;
  5. Click <Proceed>;
  6. Click <Apply>;
  7. Login with your Corp Pass or Singpass
  8. Proceed to the Form


Certain temporary structures like tents and pop-ups will require you to get “Professional Engineer (PE) certification”. This means you must engage a Professional civil or structural Engineer to design, supervise, inspect the erection of the temporary building, and submit the application for Permit to Use. This application must reach the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) three weeks before the construction of the temporary building.

For more information on whether your arts festival will need a PE, please visit BCA’s website here.

(iii) Licence for Display of Outdoor Advertising Sign or Signboard by Building and Construction Authority (BCA)

For outdoor advertisements like wall-mounted banners, streetlamp banners, promotional signages and billboards, you will need prior approval from BCA before you can install them.

For more information on this BCA licence, click here.

To apply for this BCA licence, click here.

In addition, the National Publicity Platform administered by the National Arts Council (NAC) provides Singapore’s arts and culture groups and institutions with a larger and integrated marketing platform for arts events and activities. The lamp post banner spaces are made available to Singapore arts groups and institutions only for outreach purposes.

(iv) Temporary Fair Permit by Singapore Food Agency (SFA)

It is advised for a licenced F&B operator to take on the role and responsibilities of managing the temporary F&B pop-ups at your arts festival. However, if required, please visit SFA’s website here to find out how to apply for the Temporary Fair Permit.

Other Permits and Licences

(i) The Music Permit by Composers and Authors Society of Singapore (COMPASS)

As arts festival will likely feature music, whether recorded or live, indoors or outdoors, organisers will need to apply for a music permit from COMPASS, who administer the public performance, broadcast and reproduction rights in music and musical associated literary works on behalf of its members. If you fail to apply for this licence, you will be violating the Copyright Act of Singapore.

(ii) Other Permissions for Use of Copyrighted Materials

You will need to seek permission from the owner of copyrighted materials to use his or her work in your arts festival, regardless of form or medium. Royalty fees may need to be paid to the copyright owner unless you negotiate a waiver with the copyright owner.

Depending on the nature of your programmes, there may be other permits and licences that you may need, e.g. an AVA licence if there are animals involved in your staged performances or a liquor licence if you want to sell alcohol within your festival grounds.

Outside of permits and licensing, there are a few common matters that are critical to event management. Firstly, you will need Public Liability Insurance for all performances held both indoors and outdoors. This can be obtained from any insurance company.

Secondly, you may need to apply for Visas for some of your visiting overseas speakers and performers with the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA).

Thirdly, you may need to submit Withholding Tax with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) after your visiting overseas speakers and performers complete their work with you. If you wish to deduct withholding tax from their fees, do inform them prior to their accepting the job, to avoid any dispute.

Lastly, here are some outdoor venues taken care of by National Parks (NParks), Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and Singapore Land Authority (SLA) that you may want to hold your arts festival at. These are separate venue rental procedures you will need to carry out, aside from the application of permits and licences.