Want to Busk in Singapore? Here’s How to Get Your Busking Licence

Last updated on June 3, 2019

Featured image for the "Want to Busk in Singapore? Here's How to Get Your Busking Licence" article. It features a guitarist playing his electric guitar outdoors.

If you are an aspiring busker, you will need to have a licence to perform in Singapore.

In order to get your licence, you are first required to undergo an audition with the National Arts Council (NAC). Successful performers will then be issued with a Busking Card (Letter of Endorsement). The Busking Card endorses the name of the busker and permits you to perform at designated busking locations.

It is important to note that only buskers who have been issued with a valid Busking Card are allowed to perform, in line with the Public Entertainments and Meetings (Exemptions) Order.

This article outlines some of the key steps in the application process and answers some common questions about busking in Singapore.

Am I Eligible to Apply for the Busking Card?

All Singaporeans and Permanent Residents are eligible to apply for a Busking Card. However, if you are an international student on a Student Pass, you will first need to obtain a letter of recommendation from your school or institution.

For foreigners residing in Singapore who wish to busk, you are eligible to apply if you have a valid Employment Pass and obtain written consent from the Ministry of Manpower after passing the audition.

While there are no age restrictions to busking, if you are below 17 years of age you will need to complete a consent letter signed by either your parent or guardian.

How Do I Apply for the Busking Card?

If you are eligible to apply, you can proceed to submit your application to the NAC via email or post. You can either apply as an individual applicant, or a group (comprising between 2 to 10 members).

You will also be required to attend a pre-audition workshop, which is a briefing to familiarise all applicants with the Busking Scheme guidelines. This briefing will also help give you an idea of what you can expect at the busking audition.

During the audition, applicants will be given approximately 5 minutes to demonstrate their busking acts and audience engagement abilities.

If you are auditioning as a group, do note that all members need to be present. Only group members who are present will have their names endorsed on the Busking Card. Absent members will be deemed to be performing without a licence if they perform with their licensed group members.

Applicants will be notified of the audition results within 4 weeks after the busking audition. If you are successful, you can arrange to collect your Busking Card and start performing.

Do I Have to Pay an Application Fee or a Fee for Getting the Busking Card?

No, there is no application fee.

You also do not need to pay a fee if you successfully obtain the Busking Card.

Where Can I Busk?

There are various island-wide designated busking locations where you are permitted to busk, including:

  • Public parks
  • Heartland spaces
  • Selected areas in the Orchard Road district
  • Other places of attraction such as Chinatown, Marina Bay, and Kampong Glam

In your application form, you can state your preferred location(s) from the list of designated busking locations, in order of preference.

Should you wish to change your designated busking locations after you have passed the audition, you will require NAC’s approval to do so. Request for changes will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

What Should I Take Note of When I am Busking?

You must always clearly display your Busking Card. This is to inform the public and the authorities that you are permitted to busk.

In addition, buskers have to perform at their designated busking sites and times, from 10 am to 10 pm daily.

If you are busking as a group, you must ensure that all members of the group are present when busking, as stand-ins are not allowed.

For more information, please refer to the Let’s Busk Guide by NAC. You can download the guide here.

What am I Not Allowed to Do as a Busker?

Under the Terms and Conditions of the Busking Scheme, you are not allowed to sell any items or merchandise (e.g. caricatures, music CDs). This is considered hawking and is not permitted under the Busking Scheme.

In addition, while you can accept voluntary tips, you are not permitted to actively solicit for tips from the public.

As a busker, you should also comply with Singapore’s constitutional laws at all times when performing. i.e. your performance must not:

  • Offend public morality or pose a threat to national security;
  • Offend any race or religion; or
  • Undermine the authority or legitimacy of the government and public institutions.

In addition, under the Busking Scheme Terms & Conditions for Buskers, your busking act must not:

  • Be vulgar, offensive or obscene in nature;
  • Be derogatory or defamatory of any third-party; and
  • Bring dispute or prejudice to the NAC in any way.

Buskers are only permitted to use sound amplification devices that are battery-operated. The sound level generated from busking activities should not exceed 65 dBA.

Do note that your licence may be withdrawn if there is a breach of any of the Busking Scheme Terms & Conditions.

What Licences Might I Need if I Intend to Busk for Fundraising Purposes?

The Busking Scheme is not for the purpose of fundraising for a cause or an organisation.

If you would like to raise funds, you should not apply for a busking licence. Instead, you may need to obtain licences such as:

Do note that for any fund-raising activity in Orchard Road, you will also need to obtain permission from the Singapore Tourism Board.

In addition, you will also need to obtain approvals from the relevant authorities (such as the management/owner of buildings, Urban Redevelopment Authority, Singapore Land Authority, and Land Transport Authority) on whose premises the collection of funds will be carried out, before you can proceed with fundraising.

What If I Want to Go Into Commercial Performances?

There have been instances where buskers have been approached by members of the public to perform at weddings or corporate events. This is not prohibited under the Busking Scheme.

While the Busking Scheme is managed by the NAC, buskers are not employed by it. This is even for full-time buskers. Buskers are therefore viewed as independent artistes or self-employed persons.

As an independent artiste, you are therefore responsible for making the necessary arrangements with the parties interested to engage you. These arrangements can include whether you will be paid for performing, and how much.

It is not necessary to register a business if you wish to go into commercial performances as many successful buskers operate on a freelance basis.

What Happens If I Busk Without a Busking Card?

Under the Public Entertainments and Meetings (Exemptions) Order, only buskers with a Busking Card are permitted to busk by law. Busking without a Busking Card is therefore illegal.

Persons found guilty of busking without a licence can be fined up to $10,000 under section 19 of the Public Entertainments Act.

As an aspiring busker, it is important for you to be aware of the relevant laws and terms and conditions under the Busking Scheme. Do be mindful of what you are permitted, and not permitted to do. This way, you will be able to make use of this platform to exhibit your artistic talents and express your creativity without worry or cause for concern. Happy busking!

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