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If you want to provide street entertainment by way of 'busking' in Portsmouth then you must hold a Street Entertainment Permit issued to you by Portsmouth City Council.

You are likely to be 'moved on' from the pedestrian precinct area by the council or the police if you busk without a permit. 

Buskers are encouraged to perform at street markets but must do so in agreement with, and with the permission of, the market organiser. Contact details for market organisers can be found on our Market Stalls page.

The Act of Parliament utilised to licence and regulate street entertainers is contained within Section 145 of the Local Government Act 1972.  This Act allows the council to arrange for the 'provision of entertainment'.

You can apply by downloading the application form below and sending by email to or post to Portsmouth City Council, Licensing Office, Civic Offices, Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, Hants, PO1 2AL.

Alternatively, you can apply using a separate PDF form available on

Our target completion time for application is 28 days.

Tacit consent applies to applications for Street entertainment authorisations.

This means that you may act as though your application is granted if you do not hear from us by the end of the target completion period - which is a maximum of 28 days.

If you have not heard from the council within a reasonable period, please email us at or phone us on 023 9283 4607.

For failed application or licence holder redress, please contact us in the first instance by emailing or phoning 23 9284 1464.

Consumer complaint

We would always advise that in the event of a complaint the first contact is made with the trader by you - preferably in the form a letter (with proof of delivery).  If that has not worked, if you are located in the UK, Adviceguide will give you advice. From outside the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre.

Commercial Road, Palmerston Road And Cosham High Street Pedestrian Precincts

Permits will be issued to street entertainers giving the Council's consent to busk at designated areas subject to conditions. These conditions will apply to all holders of Street Entertainment Permits and the Council may also impose further special conditions if considered appropriate.

It is the entertainer(s)' responsibility to familiarise himself or themselves with the conditions regulating street entertainment. Permits will be withdrawn should any entertainer fail to comply with the conditions or any reasonable request made by officers of the Council. Occupation of a designated area is on a "booking" basis only and entertainers must vacate such areas if a charitable or other organisation has authority from the Council to operate at the authorised areas.

Conditions regulating street entertainment In Portsmouth



  • "The Council" shall mean Portsmouth City Council.
  • "The Entertainers" shall mean the performer(s) named in the application form who are authorised by the Council to provide entertainment.
  • "The Street Entertainment Permit" shall mean the Street Entertainment permit issued by the Council.

A Street Entertainment Permit entitles the Entertainers to provide street entertainment in the area authorised subject to these conditions.

  • The Street Entertainment Permit shall be clearly displayed at all times.
  • The Entertainers shall not perform and shall vacate from an authorised area if a charitable or other organisation has authority from the City Council to operate from or at an authorised area.
  • If an area is not occupied by a charitable or other organisation authorised by the City Council, the Entertainers may occupy an authorised areas for the purposes of providing entertainment.
  • The entertainment provided shall not contain any racist, sexist, lewd, indecent or offensive material.
  • No amplification equipment or electric lighting shall be used without the permit holder first telling us of the proposed use of such equipment.
  • No fire or fireworks shall be used by the Entertainers.
  • No seating shall be provided or used by the Entertainers without the prior written consent of the Council.
  • No objects, structure or stages shall be used without the prior written consent of the Council.
  • No vehicles shall be parked in the Pedestrian Precincts or used in connection with the entertainment, without prior written consent.
  • No entertainment shall be provided which is or forms part of a commercial promotion.
  • All litter caused due to the provision of the entertainment shall be collected by the Entertainers.
  • The Entertainers shall ensure that any audience shall not cause an obstruction, nuisance or breach of any byelaw or other laws.
  • The Entertainers shall comply with all requests of the Police or Officers of the City Council. If any of these conditions are not complied with the Entertainers may be moved on and may be liable to prosecution.
  • It shall be the responsibility of the Entertainers if money is collected for a charitable or other purpose within Section 5 of the Police Factories etc (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1916 to obtain the necessary street collection permit from the Council before making any collection.
  • The Council reserves the right to withdraw Street Entertainment Permits from Entertainers who fail to comply with these conditions.
  • The Entertainers shall keep the Council indemnified from and against all proceedings, costs, expenses, and liabilities whatsoever which may be taken or made against or incurred by the Council in respect of any damage to or loss or injury to any person (including injuries resulting in death) or property howsoever caused or arising out of the negligence of the Entertainers whilst providing street entertainment in Portsmouth.
  • The Entertainers shall pay such reasonable fee for the grant or renewal of the Permit (and lost permits) as may be determined by the City Council.
  • The Entertainers shall be aged 17 or over.

Although 'busking' permits allow for persons to provide street entertainment in the precinct area(s) you should note that various other statutes and powers are available for the Council or police to control other activities as follows:

  • Trading - If you sell or offer for sale goods (including say records, cassettes or other merchandise) you will be breaking the law regarding street trading. No trading can take place without the benefit of a consent issued by the Council in the precinct area(s) there are only a limited number of available consents which have all been allocated.
  • Noise Nuisance - If you cause a noise nuisance by either the use of amplification equipment (or in other ways) the Council may take action by serving an abatement notice or may even prosecute you in serious cases.
  • Begging - It is an offence to beg under the Vagrancy Acts. 
  • Obstruction - The police have powers to move on persons obstructing the highway. Even if you hold a permit you must not cause an obstruction or block the freeflow of pedestrian movement in the precinct area(s).
  • Charitable Collections - You must not, under any circumstances make representations that money you collect will go to charitable or other purposes. Only authorised street collecting permits allow for such collections to take place.

Once you have completed steps 1-2 previously mentioned in 'What information must you provide us' we will be in a position to issue your permit which will expire on 31 December annually. You must provide:

  • If you are making a postal application please supply one recent passport size colour photograph of yourself.
  • Note - if the application is made by 2 or more persons comprising a group, only the photo of a "nominated" group member is required.
  • Permits allow for busking to take place in the following designated areas only:
  • Commercial Road Precinct - CASCADES / BOOTS / WH SMITH / H & M
  • Arundel Street Precinct - DEBENHAMS / PORT MAID
  • Palmerston Road, Southsea - FIRST CHOICE / KNIGHT & LEE
  • Cosham High Street Precinct - TESCO

It is our policy to allow permit holders to busk in these areas only. You must "book" your slot for the designated area of your choice before attending the precinct area(s). Please ring us on 023 9283 4830 or 023 9283 4073.

This is an information page and not a statement of law or how we will deal with each individual application.

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