Top 10 Permits Required for Planning a Concert

Obtaining permits is inarguably one of the most crucial stages of event planning. Therefore, before holding any concert, take your time to research and apply for all the requisite licenses.

The challenge with procuring concert permits is that there are several of them. This makes it challenging to identify the licenses that are necessary for your particular event. Besides, licensing regulations vary from one region to another—what may be optional in one state may be mandatory in another. 

We have selected the following top ten permits because they are required for planning concerts across almost all states:


1. Structure or building permits

Depending on your concert’s size, erect a few structures. Whether a temporary tent or a permanent platform, you need to demonstrate to local authorities that the construction is safe and obtain a building permit as proof.

In most states, structure and building licenses are granted by fire departments, and they give concert organizers the rights to:

  • Install prefabricated structures, such as lavatories, at the designated site

  • Put up temporary structures such as tents, platforms, and bleachers

  • Use existing properties or buildings for purposes other than those for which they were designed

  • Use an existing structure to host a large gathering


2. Food/food vendor permit

The last thing you want is people complaining of stomach aches after attending your concert. Whether you plan to sell food directly or you’ll be having contractual vendors, it’s your responsibility to ensure that the food sold is safe.

The first step is acquiring a food permit, usually from local health departments.

While requirements vary from one state to another, in most cases, you’ll be asked to highlight how you’ll be cooking and serving the food and your staff’s qualifications.

Some states dispatch supervisors to the sites to ensure that everything is up to par. You may want to request a self-inspection checklist from the health department to conduct an internal evaluation before the inspectors arrive.


3. Special events street closures permit

Will your concert occupy public streets like sidewalks, alleys, and parking lanes?

Or are you expecting dignitaries that may need the streets cleared to access your venue? If so, you may have to apply for a street closure permit.a-man-singing-to-a-crowd-at-a-concert

4. Noise permit

Concerts are known for loud music and wild crowds that sometimes stay charged throughout the night. Therefore, a noise permit is one of the most necessary licenses for concert organizers.

The noise permit specifies the permissible noise sources, how much noise you are authorized to make during a concert, and for how long. It’s based on the Noise Control Act of 1972 and the Quiet Communities Act of 1978, both of which aim to protect public health by reducing noise pollution. 

The federal government initiated the Acts as part of its plans to cut financing for the noise control program in 1981. State and local governments have taken over the administration of these Acts since then, creating state-based noise regulations and guidelines for processing noise permits.

Some even prohibit loud music and noise disturbance between 10 p.m and 7 a.m.


5. Event planning permit

As the name suggests, this license allows you to hold a concert at a particular site. In most states and towns, you’ll only need special event permits for concerts with more than 150 people.


6. Fireworks permit

Fireworks are a common way to end concerts or introduce highlights like the most expected performance. However, they are illegal in some counties, such as Los Angeles and San Diego. So, before you light them up and punctuate the sky with those bright colors, confirm that they’re authorized in the hosting town or city. 

If they are allowed in that locality, enquire if it’s necessary to apply for a license and where to obtain it. The Federal explosive regulations enforced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) govern the issuing and revocation of such permits.

ATF will then assign your concert a professional pyrotechnical to supervise and ensure that all safety measures are followed once they’ve approved your application. Some state and local authorities have customized fireworks rules and licensing procedures, which you may find out more about from their fire departments.


7. Alcohol permit

Do you plan to serve or sell liquor at your concert? If yes, then you may need to acquire an alcohol permit.

Licensing requirements vary depending on the nature of the concert and the local government’s regulations. In California, for instance, the California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) agency excuses organizers of free private concerts, where all drinks are complimentary, from acquiring this license.


8. Temporary use permit

Temporary Use Permits are for concerts held on private property such as ranches or wineries. They grant you temporary rights to use the property as your venue and seek to ensure that the event is not a nuisance to the surrounding community.

A typical Temporary Use Permit request letter should contain the following information:

  • Name and address of the property’s owner

  • Name and address of the concert’s organizers

  • The concert’s duration and how long you want the permit to last

  • Logistics for restroom facilities, lighting, and other utilities


9. Business permit

Whether you’ll need a business permit depends on the concert’s purpose.

Is it free or ticketed?

Or, are you raising money for a cause?

Free events or those that raise money towards a non-profit cause do not need licensing.

However, ticketed concerts are considered business ventures. And, like for every economic establishment or activity, they require business permits. You can apply for these licenses from local trade departments.


10. Health permits

Health Permits seek to safeguard the well-being of your concert’s attendees.

They cover issues like the safety of the food and beverages served at your concert and the availability of proper signage, handwashing booths, and washrooms. In some states, you’ll have to gain separate permits to install outside toilets.

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