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Young Performers

Spotlight spoke with Liz Stretton to bring you the essentials on licensing. This is part two, all about licensing for young performers working abroad!

Liz Stretton specialises in helping parents and agents to licence children for work abroad. This is a slightly more complicated process than licensing for local productions, so we asked Liz to break it down for us! Read part one for all you need to know about licensing in the UK. 

Who needs a licence?

For any work abroad, all young performers will require a licence if they are still at school, aged 16 and under.

What extra documents are required for an overseas licence application?

There are a few extra requirements for overseas licence applications – you’ll need the contract of employment, school permission (for work during term dates), birth certificate, a parental consent form (signed from both parents, but if the parent is a single parent, this is also fine!). A letter from the GP confirming the child is fit and healthy for travel and work is also required. It’s important to know the name and nature of the production, where the performance will take place, where the young performer would be staying, and the exact dates from when they will be travelling until the date they will be back in the UK. A licence has to also cover the travel period!

Do I need to attend court?

Unlike local productions, to get a licence for overseas work requires the parent/guardian/agent or representative (like Liz) to attend a Magistrate’s Court. Westminster, for instance, is a very busy court, so it can be quicker to go elsewhere. There are courts across the UK. The applicant will be required to present the ‘Young Persons Employment Abroad’ application to the Magistrate’s court under oath. “When I’m at court,” Liz says, “I take this extremely seriously.” While it can be intimidating for parents, Liz says it’s definitely something you can become familiar with – otherwise you can always get help from someone like Liz herself!

What if I can’t travel with my child abroad?

If a parent can’t accompany the child themselves, the child can be accompanied by a licensed chaperone. Liz says chaperones are licensed for a 3-year period by the local authority, and chaperone licenses need to be in place ahead of the court date. A license will only be considered if a parent or alternatively a licensed chaperone is accompanying the child – grandparents, for example, will not be permitted to chaperone the child.

What additional checks need to happen for an overseas licence application?

With everything in place, the local police authority have to be notified before heading to court. Seven days of notice is the requirement, as this allows the police time to undertake the necessary checks on the parental or licensed chaperone accompanying the child abroad. This is for the child’s safety.

What happens in court? What can I expect?

Once you’re at court, the magistrate will weigh up all the documentation and information provided. If everything is in order, the representative of the young performer will take the stand to swear all the information is correct, and this is then all sent on to the local police authority. If everything checks out, a licence is then issued! This gets forwarded to the production company and will also go to the British Consulate in the overseas territory. The parent/chaperone should also have a copy for travel.

Once the young performer returns to the UK, Liz asks her clients to be in touch to confirm they have returned and updates the court to let them know everyone has returned safely. “It’s a bureaucratic process,” she says, “but you can understand the reason for it…we have to ensure the child is well looked after!”

Read part one, all about licensing for the UK. Learn more about Liz Stretton of License Services and the services she provides on Contacts. Liz Stretton has more than 10 years of experience facilitating performance licenses, enabling children the opportunity of working in film, TV, theatre and modelling abroad. Laws governing children and juveniles working within the industry are often considerably complex. However, Liz offers a fully comprehensive and professional service, covering application management and legislative advice to ensure all safeguarding requirements are met. ‘I get enormous satisfaction being part of the process, allowing children to travel and take part in exciting opportunities all over the world and being safe in the knowledge all child protection measures have been taken’.