Applying for a Public Entertainment Licence: An Essential Guide
Need to organise an event in public? It is important to ensure that you obtain all necessary governmental approvals and permits before doing so. One of such permits required is a Public Entertainment Licence (PEL) which authorises organisers to hold entertainment-related events in public.
Under the Public Entertainments Act (PEA), unless exempted, any organisation who wishes to provide public entertainment in any place accessible to the public whether free of charge or otherwise, can only do so:
- In a place that has been approved by the police; and
- In accordance with a Public Entertainment Licence (PEL) issued by the police.
Any person who provides or assists in providing any public entertainment without a PEL shall be liable on conviction to a fine up to $20,000.
Before Applying for a PEL
What is public entertainment?
“Public entertainment” includes any one of or a combination of forms of entertainment listed in the First Schedule to the Act.
Some common forms of entertainment are as follows:
- Gymnastics, acrobatics or magic performances
- Amusement centres
- Computer games centres
- Film exhibitions
- Music or singing performances
- Game machines that make use of luck to give out prizes, e.g. crane machines
- Organised competitions at games of skill or chance
- Arts entertainment
Events exempted from the requirement of a PEL
Certain events listed in section 3 of the Public Entertainments and Meetings (Exemptions) Order are specifically exempted from the requirement of a PEL. This is provided that certain conditions (mainly as to the manner in which the event is held) are met, e.g. no performance of vulgar or obscene songs.
Some common exemptions are:
- Classical instrument music performances or getai (歌台)
- Public entertainment organised in celebration of the Seventh Month Festival
- Performance of music, singing or dancing by or for children, any magic show, transmission of recorded music by a DJ, organised competition at games of skill, in hotels or shopping centres
- Operation of carnival games at fun fairs
- Any performance of “lion” or “dragon” dance
- Operation of karaoke boxes
- Demonstrations of art and craft, sports or cultural activities
- Any computer games centre in hotels
- Film exhibitions
- Transmission of recorded music in premises such as hotels, shopping centres, offices, clinics, shops and restaurants
- Transmission of recorded music or playing of live-band music at funerals or at weddings held public
- Any animal exhibitions, including pet shows
PEL vs Arts Entertainment Licence (AEL)
An Arts Entertainment Licence (AEL) is issued to those who wish to hold an “arts event” at a place accessible to the public, as opposed to public entertainment.
“Arts entertainment” is limited to entertainment of artistic nature and includes any one of or a combination of the following:
- Plays, operas, pantomimes, puppet-shows or tableaux
- Display of set pieces, commemorative decorations or representations of real or mythical creatures
- Exhibitions of photos, sculptures or statues
- Play-reading, poetry-reading or recital
- Music, song or dance performances
Unlike the PEL which is issued by the police, the AEL is issued by the Infocomm Media Development Authority. Different conditions and fees also apply for the application for an AEL.
Applying for a PEL
Types of PEL
There are 2 types of PELs:
- Ad-hoc licence; and
- Establishment licence
1. Ad-hoc licence
The ad-hoc licence is issued for short durations such as weekly (7 days, consecutively or otherwise within a period of 3 months) or even daily. It is usually the appropriate licence for the organising of beauty pageants or fashion shows.
2. Establishment licence
An establishment licence is normally issued for 1 year.
There are 3 different types of establishment licences, each with their own permitted operating hours, subject to conditions set out in the licence:
- Type A: Up to 1 am every Monday to Saturday and 2 am every Sunday and public holiday
- Type B: Up to 3 am every Monday to Saturday and 4 am every Sunday and public holiday
- Type C: Up to 6 am daily
Persons looking to run the following premises may find it appropriate to apply for an establishment licence:
- Bars, nightclubs, pubs, discos, KTV lounges, cafes or restaurants
- Amusement centres
- Billiard saloons
- Computer games centres
- Shops that operate game machines (including claw machines)
Eligibility to apply for a PEL
The following requirements must be met in order to apply for a PEL.
First, an applicant for PEL must be a Singapore citizen, a Singapore Permanent Resident or possess a Foreign Identification Number (FIN).
Second, a licensee must be a fit and proper person to hold a PEL, that is someone who has not been convicted of any offence and has a good track record of compliance with the provisions of the PEA.
Third, a licensee must also be one of the following business stakeholders as registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA):
- Director – For companies;
- Partner – For partnerships, limited partnerships and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP);
- Sole proprietor – For sole proprietorships.
How to apply for a PEL
All PEL applications are to be submitted through electronic filing via the GoBusiness website.
Supporting documents are also required to be submitted at the point of application. These include:
- Land Use Planning Permission from Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA)
- Letter of Approval from Housing Development Board (HDB)
- Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) Notification Letter on Occupancy Load
- Fire Safety Certificate for Public Entertainment
The normal processing time for an application is 12 working days from the receipt of the application and the necessary supporting documents, if required.
Any incomplete or incorrect submission will be rejected. The applicant will be notified of the outcome via SMS or email, and post.
What are the fees involved?
The fees involved in applying for a PEL vary depending on the:
- Type of PEL;
- Duration of PEL;
- Type of public entertainment; and
- Permitted hours of establishment (for the establishment licence)
The fees for the various PELs are as follows:
Type of public entertainment
|Grant or renewal of PEL|
|Establishment licence||Ad-hoc licence|
|Type A||Type B||Type C||1 day||7 days|
|1||Any reproduction or transmission of recorded music or song.
Any variety act, performance of music, singing or dancing (including dancing by customers), gymnastics or acrobatics.
|2||Any reproduction or transmission of recorded music or songs in any place where dancing by customers is not allowed.||S$260||S$350||S$440||S$22||S$44|
|3||Any amusement centre, billiard saloon or computer games centre.||S$360||S$480||S$600||S$22||S$44|
|4||Two game machines that make use of luck to give out prizes for the first 2 game machines or devices and every additional 2 or fewer game machines.||S$360||S$480||S$600||S$22||S$44|
|5||Boxing or wrestling contests.||–||–||–||S$22||S$44|
|6||Any variety act, performance of music, singing or dancing, gymnastics or acrobatics.||–||–||–||S$22||S$44|
|7||Circus or animal exhibition.||–||–||–||S$22||S$44|
|8||Any other entertainment (other than arts entertainment requiring an AEL).||–||–||–||S$22||S$44|
How does the police determine whether to grant a PEL?
In assessing a PEL application, the police will consider the suitability of the location/vicinity. For instance, where a location or vicinity is predominantly residential, it may not be suitable for public entertainment to be conducted there.
Applicants should ensure that they have obtained the PEL before starting the use or renovation works on their premises. Sunk investments such as any renovation, purchase of equipment or rental of premises already made, will not be regarded as grounds for a PEL to be granted.
Any approval from URA or HDB obtained for the provision of the public entertainment also does not guarantee the approval of a PEL.
After Obtaining the PEL
Under section 8 of the PEA, every PEL issued or renewed by the Licensing Officer is subject to conditions, and the validity period or expiry date, as may be specified in the licence.
Conditions of licence
The licensee must adhere to all conditions of their PEL. The police has the discretion to add, vary or revoke the conditions of a PEL at any time, depending on the circumstances of the case.
One key condition is that the PEL must be prominently displayed. Other common conditions include hours of operation of an establishment, or any restrictions in the manner in which the event is conducted.
Validity and renewal of licence
As mentioned, the validity of a PEL depends on the type of licence granted.
An establishment licence is generally valid for 1 year while an ad-hoc licence is valid for week(s) or day(s) depending on the specific type of ad-hoc licence obtained.
A PEL is not automatically renewable. Instead, licensees must apply for a new PEL via the GoBusiness website.
Transfer of licence
A licensee must not permit his PEL to be used by any other person. Also, PELs cannot be transferred without police approval.
An application for transfer can be done via the GoBusiness website.
Licence transfer applications must be made for genuine and legitimate reasons. For example, if a licence transfer application was made in an attempt to circumvent applicable rules or regulations, it may not be approved.
Penalties for breach of conditions of licence
Penalties for breach of conditions of a PEL include:
- Demerit points;
- Reduction of permissible operating hours under the licence; and/or
- Suspension and/or cancellation of PEL
Any person who provides or assists in providing any public entertainment in contravention of any condition of a PEL can be fined up to S$10,000.
2. Demerit points
The police may award demerit points against a licensee for contravening condition(s) of a PEL.
A PEL may be suspended when a licensee accumulates at least 21 but not more than 23 demerit points. If 24 or more demerit points are accumulated, a PEL may be cancelled.
3. Reduction of permissible operating hours under the licence
The police may vary the licence conditions so as to reduce the daily operating hours of the business by:
- 1 hour for a period of one month if the licensee has been awarded 15 to 17 demerit points within 24 consecutive months
- 2 hours for a period of one month if the licensee has been awarded 18 to 20 demerit points within 24 consecutive months.
4. Suspension or cancellation of PEL
The police may suspend or cancel a licence, if it is satisfied that the public entertainment for which it was issued:
- Has been or is likely to be the cause of a breach of peace;
- Has been or is likely to be of an indecent, immoral, offensive, subversive or improper nature;
- Has caused or is likely to cause unnecessary suffering or any injury to any participating person or animal, or to any audience member;
- Has been or is likely to be provided in contravention of the PEA;
- Has been or is likely to be provided in contravention of any condition of the licence; or
- Is contrary to public interest.
The police may, also suspend or cancel a PEL if:
- The licensee is not a fit and proper person to hold such licence (see above at Eligibility); or
- The licensee has accumulated 24 or more demerit points (as mentioned above).
That said, before suspending or cancelling a PEL, the police will give the licensee a written notice of the intention to do so and an opportunity to provide reasons as to why the licence should not be suspended or cancelled. This is unless giving such written notice and opportunity to submit reasons would be impractical or undesirable for some reason.
The licensee can also request the police to provide written grounds for the decision to suspend or cancel the PEL. The police will then do so within 7 days of the request.
To be a licensee of public entertainment is no easy feat. Businesses must identify the type of PEL which suits their needs and be aware of the various requirements both prior to and after obtaining the PEL. You may wish to consult any of our lawyers if you require any assistance in PEL-related matters.
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