Permits and Permissions Needed When Filming in London

Discover the permissions processes for filming in England’s capital city

February 18, 2022

There are many iconic cities in the world, where just a passing glimpse of a single landmark will make one’s whereabouts unmistakeable. This is ideal when choosing a location for filming. A good piece of visual content will utilise the potential of its location to enhance the final product, and a recognisable city is a prime spot for such a video. London is an easily recognisable city, with a bustling urban environment and a history stretching back to the time of the ancient Romans. The distinguished architecture and diverse locales offer filmmakers a perfect space to frame their subject. 

However, when intending to film in London, certain procedures must be completed, and rules must be followed. 

Understanding Your Locations

London is a large city, and this size can make obtaining permission for a location somewhat complicated. The city is divided into 33 distinct boroughs, each with its own Borough Film Service (BFS) that will deal with filming requests for locations managed by local authorities. If your filming will likely result in an obstruction, then a filming application must be submitted to the relevant local authority through the Borough Film Service. If your production will not cause any obstruction, there is no legal requirement to gain a license or official permission. However, it is highly recommended that if filming in public in London, the relevant Borough Film Service should be contacted to make sure there will not be problems on the day.

Private Areas

When applying for permission to film in any location, it is important to do your homework and investigate the ownership of the place that you want to use. Many areas in London which are accessible to the public are in fact privately owned or managed. This includes Train and Tube stations, the South Bank, Trafalgar Square, Airports, and the Royal Parks. To film in such locations, the property owner or managing agency must be contacted for permission. 

Other Factors

With regards to COVID-19, all productions coming into the City of London are required to adhere to government guidance. Film London have created a very helpful page with the specifics of current rules, along with a checklist for film crews to follow. Government guidance on this topic is subject to change, so remaining up to date as to the exact rules is important here. Similarly, when considering the rules and application processes needed to ensure access to a location, deadlines must be remembered. Consider assigning a specific member of your team to making sure that those permissions are obtained, and that any logistical concerns are resolved. Approvals should be sought out as soon as a location is decided upon, and it is highly advisable to allow at least a few weeks for this process to avoid last minute disappointment. 

These are just a few helpful areas to consider when contemplating a filming location. As with any set of regulations, it is important to remain informed as to any changes to the rules. The steps outlined here should help you ensure your filming in London is possible, allowing you to focus on getting the best shots possible when creating your content.

Film Shoot Location Ideas

Not sure where to begin scouting for a location? In a city as busy as London it can be hard to find public locations that allow filming. We’ve compiled a list of the best pubs and bars for filming in London to help you on your filming journey.

Tim Keogh