Creative connections that transform

Filming in London

Filming in London

Get Permission

Whatever location you are using, no matter how public it seems, it is likely you'll need to notify or get permission from somebody.

The impact of failing to inform relevant authorities could result in unnecessary police resources being deployed. It can disrupt your filming and the local community.

Public locations

London is divided into 33 separate boroughs and each has its own Borough Film Service (BFS) to deal with filming requests for all local authority managed locations. These include:

  • Streets
  • Estates
  • Commons
  • Town halls,
  • Schools
  • Shopping centres
  • Leisure centres

Filming a public location? Find out more about working with Boroughs

When public is private

Some areas that seem like public streets are actually privately owned or managed. London's 'public' areas are managed by a number of agencies including:

  • The Royal Parks
  • Trafalgar Square
  • Parliament Square
  • The South Bank
  • London Underground

You need permission to film in any of these locations and you will usually be charged a fee.

Not sure who owns your location? Search the Film London Directory

Transport For London roads, or Red Routes

If the road you would like to film on has a double or single red line then it is not managed by a borough and you need to approach Transport for London Streets Traffic Control Centre for either a notice of no objection or a permit ahead of filming.

  • Small crews of five or less using a handheld camera need to apply a minimum of two week before filming is due to start. You are unlikely to be charged a fee.
  • Larger scale filming also requires a minimum two weeks lead-in time and you are likely to incur filming fees.

Please contact redroutefilming@tfl.gov.uk or 020 3054 6680 (9am-5pm) or 0845 850 2621 (outside office hours).

See a list of the roads managed by TfL

Filming buildings

Filming the exterior of a building does not infringe its copyright. This means that you do not need copyright from the building's owner to film its exterior but you may need to get permission from the relevant authority or property owner based on where you have physically placed your camera in order to shoot.

A building could also be considered to represent an individual, company or institution so you should be careful not to use this association to either endorse or exploit any product or service; or in a way that might defame such individual, company or institution.

Private locations

To film in private locations such as residential properties, you will need to apply directly to the property owner.

If you are filming in a flat or on a housing estate it may be owned by a Housing Association or council and you will need to contact ALL relevant parties.

Unsure who owns a location? Search the Film London Directory or contact our locations team: locations@filmlondon.org.uk

Notice required

Whether public or private, the amount of notice needed to process your filming application or request varies depending on a number of factors:

  • The size of your production
  • The type of shoot
  • Whether you need parking suspensions

And so on. The general rule is:

  • A minimum of three days for small crews
  • A minimum of 10 days for large crews and complex shoots

When you don't need permission to film

If you are a small crew — five people or fewer — using a handheld camera and your filming will not cause an obstruction then there is no restriction to filming on London’s public highway. In some boroughs this also extends to small crews with a tripod. No licence or any form of official permission is required.

Common law rights allow users of public highways to “pass and re-pass ... and to make reasonable use of it”. Section 137 of the Highways Act 1980 restricts these rights where the use of the highway causes an “obstruction” to other users rights of free passage. If you are considered to be causing an obstruction then there is a risk that you will be stopped from filming.

If you think you are likely to cause an obstruction then you need to apply to film via the appropriate Local Authority, however we strongly recommend that you always inform the relevant Borough Film Service if you are filming on their streets. If the local authority is not aware that you will be filming in the area then you can be asked to stop. If a member of the public complains and you don't have permission to film, then you may be asked to move on by police. Some Local Authorities provide Notices of No Objection for small crew filming. 

Find out about working with Boroughs

Useful contacts

Find contacts for water locations, parks and open spaces, property management organisations, transport locations, iconic and heritage locations, and sports locations.

Organisations & Agencies List

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