There are various regulations in place to ensure that the UK remains film-friendly. Below is an overview of regulations in the UK. It is not exhaustive, and full guidance should always be sought.

Filming in public spaces

Local authority

If you intend to film on public land, you should check if you require permission from the appropriate local authority or council. They are responsible for public land, public buildings, roads and parking. The UK screen agencies can help you get in touch with the appropriate local authority contact.


You will need the full co-operation of the local police force if you plan to film on a public highway or use special effects, explosives or fire arms (including replicas). You will also need permission to portray uniformed police officers or marked police vehicles on film.

You should inform the local police force in writing of any planned filming within its jurisdiction. The UK screen agencies can help you arrange this process.

Filming on public roads

Before filming on a public road you must contact the local police and the Highways Department of the local authority. Both will need to make sure that your plans are safe and pose no threat to road users. If you plan to stage stunts, a stunt co-ordinator should be involved in any planning discussions.

You will need details of the safety conditions covering any tracking vehicles you hire and also find out what permissions and rights clearances have been granted at the location.

Advice about permission and Rights clearances

If you film inside a store or restaurant, you need written permission to use the location and also to show the chain’s name or trademark.

If you film outside a store or restaurant you do not need permission to show its name or trademark – however, if the location chosen is used to communicate a negative message in your film (for example, a film about ‘poisoned restaurant food’) you may risk legal proceedings.

You do not need to ask passers-by for permission to feature their faces in a film. Under UK law, the copyright of film shot in a public place resides with the filmmaker.


The UK unions provide guidance and support on pay rates and working practices.

Equity is the UK trade union for professional performers and creative practitioners.

BECTU is the UK’s media and entertainment trade union; sectors covered include broadcasting, cinema, film, digital media, independent production, leisure, theatre and the arts.

The Writers Guild of Great Britain (WGGB) is a trade union representing professional writers in TV, film, theatre, radio, books, poetry, animation and videogames.

Aerial filming

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) governs flight activities in the UK, including drones/un-manned aerial vehicles (UAV).  Applications to operate a drone/UAV can be made here.

If you require other kinds of aerial filming, you can find a list of professional, licensed companies using a directory such as Kays or The Knowledge.

Working with children

All children under “state school leaving age” (this maybe 16 or 18, depending on where you are filming) are required to be licensed by the child’s local education authority. This licence dictates the hours they are permitted to work, any special steps that need to be taken to protect the child, and other requirements.

The local education authority for where the production is being shot should also be informed. Using a UK line producer who is familiar with the child licensing procedure will ensure that your production meets all its requirements.

Working with animals

When filming with animals, you must source animals that meet the production’s requirements, and these must be from a known industry supplier/owner. You must also use the RSPCA guidelines for the Use of Animals in the Audio-Visual industry.

Using weapons

You must inform the police if you use any weapon (including replica and non-functioning weapons) in filming, even when shooting on privately owned land/locations.  Please contact us, so that we can connect you with the relevant organisations.

The Health and Safety Executive has an information sheet outlining your legal obligations as well as best practice.

Using explosives

Individuals employed within specialist filming areas- including working with explosives- should have the relevant experience and qualifications. The Joint Industry Grading Scheme (JIGS) is the assessment scheme for such practitioners in safety critical departments. You must also inform the relevant police department of your intent to use explosives.

An experienced UK line producer will be familiar with the legislation and requirements around using explosives.

The Health and Safety Executive has an information sheet outlining your legal obligations as well as best practice.


Smoking laws

A ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces came into force in England on 1 July 2007. The ban applies to film sets just as it does to other venues, however, if an actor is required to smoke as part of his or her role, then there is an exemption to allow them to do so for that part of the shoot. The regulations can be viewed in full at the Office of Public Sector Information website.