Step by step applying for a special event permit

If you are organising a music or theatre festival in a public space, screening a film or building an installation, in most cases you need to apply for a special event permit. The procedure is laid down in the General Local Regulations (APV) and is therefore different for each local authority. This text is about Amsterdam. You can find the application form on the website of the Amsterdam local authority.

1. Find out whether you need a permit or whether notification is sufficient

In almost all cases (90% of special events) a special event permit is required. For small-scale events that are held in the daytime, are not attended by more than a hundred visitors at the same time, and that do not cause any noise or traffic disturbance, it is enough to notify the district authority. You can find the precise conditions on the local authority website. In principle you do not need a permit to film, but you must always notify the district authority of your intention to film.

Notification of a special event is free of charge. A special event permit costs money, varying from € 250 for an event with 500 participants to € 4,000 for an event with more than 10,000 participants. Sometimes you also need additional permits such as an object permit or a water permit.

2. Apply for your permit in good time

The website of the Amsterdam local authority contains a set of instructions and an application form. You should apply for a special event permit at least eight weeks in advance. For notification of a special event, two weeks in advance is sufficient. You must make the application much earlier for events with more than 2,000 visitors.

In Amsterdam you apply for a special event permit to the chairperson of the district authority, or to the mayor if more than one district authority is involved. You can always make an appointment with the district authority permit department to discuss your application beforehand.

3. Take the following factors into account when you make your application

Various bodies and factors play a role in organising a special event. You have to take into account the police and fire brigade regulations on order and safety, traffic and transport regulations laid down in a mobility plan and noise prevention, as well as providing sufficient first aid, toilets, drinking water, etc. Depending on the type of event, you may also need to apply for a separate object or environment permit to place stages, food counters or traffic signs, for example, contact Schiphol Airport if you plan to launch balloons or let off fireworks, apply for a water permit from the environment desk of Waternet, or arrange a licence to serve alcoholic drinks.

4. Wait for the application to be dealt with

On the basis of your application, the police, fire brigade, medical aid for accidents and catastrophes, health and safety authority, Amsterdam canal board, public domain department of the district authority, building inspectorate, environment and building inspectorate and the coordination system (list of events) may be asked for their advice. In principle you receive the answer to your application for a permit within six weeks, but in the case of smaller events you sometimes only hear shortly before the event whether a permit has been granted because interested parties may raise objections.

5. Think about communication with the neighbourhood

If the permit is granted, the organisation must send a letter announcing the event to residents and companies that might be adversely affected by it.

6. Take the Occupational Health and Safety Law and volunteers into account too

In organising a special event you must also take into account other regulations such as those laid down in the Occupational Health and Safety Law. If you work with volunteers, you must make sure that they have third party insurance. If you work with children you will need to issue a statement on behaviour, or if the volunteer works behind the bar you will need an alcohol certificate. Volunteers from outside the EU require a work permit.