How to get filming permission in London

You’ve seen London’s famous landmarks splashed across many Hollywood films, but many more movie backdrops you wouldn’t even recognise as London – from schools to residential streets, parks, and motorways. This city is hugely popular for filming because its locations are so diverse, there really is something for everyone.

If you are a location scout or a filmmaker planning to film in the city, you must understand your responsibilities and obligations. Because even if you are outdoors, you can’t necessarily just turn up and start filming. The rules around filming permits can be confusing, so if you’re unsure whether or not you need filming permission for a London film location, keep reading on. 

Contents

  1. Who is responsible for granting filming permits?
  2. Who needs to get a filming permit?
    • Film crew sizes
    • Public locations
    • Private locations
    • Building exteriors
  3. How much does it cost for a filming permit?
    • Application fee
    • Location fee 
    • Other fees:
    • Parking:
    • Road closures:
  4. That’s a wrap

Who is responsible for granting filming permission?

London is made up of 33 individual boroughs, and each one has its own film office responsible for granting filming permits. You can find out who to contact for each borough on Film London’s borough film offices directory.

Most boroughs do share a common online application process using FilmApp which makes the process easier for multiple applications, as you only have to register one time.  

Who needs to get a filming permit?

Photo by Vlad Vasnetsov

This will depend on the type of filming location and your crew size. We’ll explore all of these below:

Film crew sizes

Most London boroughs make exceptions for small film crews to make it easier to film, meaning if your film crew size is considered small then you don’t need a filming permit.

As a general rule, you do not require a permit if you are filming on a public pavement or highway and your shoot involves five or fewer people with a handheld camera or simple tripod only. Remember to check the specific rules with the local borough film office where you intend to film as the rules can differ.

It is recommended however that you always inform the relevant borough film office if you are filming on their streets. If the local authority is unaware that a crew will be filming in the area and a member of the public complains, then you can be asked to stop.

You may be able to request a Notice of No Objection from some authorities, although not all boroughs offer these notices. It’s essentially an informal letter confirming that, based on the information you’ve provided, the local authority has no objection to the filming going ahead.

Some boroughs provide them free of charge and others charge between £25-£100. In addition to providing you with the letter some local authority film officers will check for any roadworks in the area that might affect your shoot, and if necessary, notify the local police for you.

Public locations

Public locations are any places owned by a local authority and can include open spaces like parks and squares or closed spaces like libraries and museums.

You’ll need to contact the relevant borough film office for filming permission in these locations, and most local authorities will grant a permit.

Here are a few examples of public locations in London that will definitely require a permit to film at:

  • Trafalgar Square
  • London Underground and train stations (requires a permit from TFL)
  • The South Bank
  • The Mall and Horse Guards Parade
  • The Royal Parks
Photo by Samuel Wölfl

Private locations

Filming at private locations will require filming permission from the owners, so as it doesn’t have anything to do with the local authorities you do not need to request a permit for filming.

For example, residential homes and privately owned shopping centres require filming permission from the owners only. 

Store all your shoot locations in one spot

SuperScout is your own private location library – upload locations in minutes, tag them with ai in seconds, then search and share with your team

Building exteriors

The rules around filming the exterior of buildings can be ambiguous, and largely depends on the specific location and the policies of the local authorities or property owners. 

Filming iconic or well-known buildings, even from a public space, may require special permits, especially if the footage is intended for commercial use and the company name on the building is visible, for example. 

Filming near sensitive locations such as government buildings, embassies, military establishments, or critical infrastructure may require special filming permissions due to security concerns.

Photo by Humphrey Muleba

How much does it cost for a filming permit?

Here’s a sample list of permit costs that should help you get an idea of filming costs in London, as these costs will vary from borough to borough. 

Application fee (based on crew size): 

  • Charity, students – £30
  • Up to 5 people (handheld camera) £75
  • Small crew (up to 10 people, camera and tripod only) £150
  • Medium Crew (11 – 20 people) £200
  • Large crew (20-50 people) £275
  • Very large crew (51+ people) £350
Photo by SevenStorm JUHASZIMRUS

Location fees (full day):

  • Up to 5 people (handheld camera) £750 – £2,000
  • Small crew (up to 10 people, camera and tripod only) £750 – £2,000
  • Medium Crew (11 – 20 people) £1,000 – £2,500
  • Large crew (20-50 people) £2,500 – £7,500
  • Very large crew (51+ people) £3,500 – £12,000

Other fees:

  • Temporary traffic notice – £1,000
  • Temporary structure – £600 per day
  • Crane license – £600
  • Scaffolding, fencing and hoarding licences – £500 (per street)

Parking:

If you require parking facilities, you’ll need to put in a request to the City Corporation.

In general, parking permits for a small crew will take around five days, but if you require a larger space, you should submit your request at least two weeks before filming.

Photo by Nikita Khandelwal

Road closures:

Of all the expenses associated with film production, road closures can often be the most costly — especially in London, as it’s one of the world’s busiest cities.

  • Road closure on bus route £3,500
  • Road closure on non-bus route £3,000

You’ll also need to plan ahead and contact the relevant authority at least 12 weeks before closing the road down.

That’s a wrap

Obtaining filming permission is a crucial first step for location scouts looking to secure filming locations in any public space in London. The necessity for a permit depends on factors such as the type of location, the scale of the production, and potential impacts on the surroundings.

But even if you don’t require a permit, it’s good practice to contact the relevant borough film office ahead of filming to inform them of your plans so you can ensure a smooth filming experience in London.

Need a place to store your shoot locations?

SuperScout is your own private location library – upload locations in minutes, tag them with ai in seconds, then search and share with your team