London is one of the most filmed cities in the world. From blockbuster movies to small independent films, the city’s streets and iconic landmarks have been used time and time again as a backdrop for film productions.

London will always be a top choice with so much to offer in terms of diversity and incredible locations. However, if you plan to film in the city, you need to be aware of your obligations.

There are distinct rules surrounding filming in London, and we’re going to reveal them now. If you’re unsure when you need a permit or don’t know the regulations, read on!

How Does The London Film Service Work?

London is a big city, and the film service is organised into different boroughs. With 33 in total, the rules for one might differ from another, so it’s essential to understand your obligations.

The Borough Film Services are the people you need to see for information, and they’ll be able to help you secure permits if required.

In the next section, we’ll discuss the different types of filming and how they might impact your production project.

Public Locations

Public locations include schools, community centres, shopping malls and anything else that a local authority might own. You’ll need to contact the BFS for information when you want to film in these locations, and most local authorities will grant a permit.

However, while some locations might seem private, they’re not! For example, specific shopping centres and even streets are privately owned.
Areas you’ll definitely need to secure a permit include:

  • Parliament Square
  • Trafalgar Square
  • The South Bank
  • Any Tube or Train Stations
  • The Royal Square
  • River and Canal Paths

If you’d like a complete list of information, this helpful Organisations and Agencies sheet should help.

Private Locations and Landmarks

When you film in specific locations, you’ll need to get permission from the owner.

For example, residential properties or privately owned shopping centres have nothing to do with the local authorities, so filming won’t be a problem if the owner permits you.

Filming in a council house requires permission from the Housing Association that owns the property.

What About The Exterior Of Buildings?

The rules surrounding filming the exterior of buildings can be ambiguous at best. In general, filming the outside of any building doesn’t require permission – but if you place your camera in certain spots without a permit, you could have some problems.

Also, some famous company buildings might have restrictions – especially if the company name is visible in your film.

Small Crew Filming Limitations

It’s a lot easier for smaller crews to film in London because most boroughs make special exceptions. Westminster is the only borough with a stricter rule – of three crew members.

In these cases, you can get in touch with the borough’s film department, and if you meet the restrictions, you won’t even need a permit.

However, filming on public highways might cause an obstruction, so you can only access this if you can prove you won’t get in the way of any cars, etc.

Just because there’s an obstruction, it doesn’t mean you can’t film in the area, but you will need to contact the relevant authorities. If you don’t get permission to film, and a member of the public complains to the police, they’ll ask you to move on.

No Objection Notices

One option for crews is to get a Notice Of No Objection from their local authority. This notification explains that you’re allowed to film without objections, so it’s beneficial for small productions.

You might have to pay between £25 to £100, but it’s worth it. Your local film officer will notify enforcement agencies that you’re planning to shoot and let you know if any roadworks might interfere with your production.

Filming Fees

If you require a permit, this list of general filming fees should help you figure out how much you’ll pay.

Crew Size & Fee

  • Students/Non-Profit – £30
  • 5 people with a handheld camera – £75
  • 10 people with tripod camera – £150
  • 11 – 20 people – £200
  • 20 – 50 people – £275
  • 50+ people – £350

Administration Areas

  • £150 General fee- incurred when filming runs over
  • £250 For two hours – commercial filming in non-strategic route city
  • £450 For four hours – Filming for strategic routes managed by Transport For London

Parking Permits

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.

Private Property

As we mentioned earlier, filming on private property means you work directly with the owner, so the rates can vary. There’s no set amount, which is why you should always check with the owner before committing to a production.

Road Closures

Of all the expenses associated with film production, road closures can often be the most costly – especially in London. Every city is expensive, which means that you’ll need to pay extra if you want to shut down the road.

For example:

  • Closing a No Bus Route – £2800
  • Closing a Bus Route Road – £3300

You’ll also need to contact the relevant authority at least 12 weeks before shutting the road down.

As London is one of the world’s busiest cities, it’s essential to ensure you put your request in early because failing to do so will impact your production.

Ready To Start Planning?

There’s no doubt that the planning stage of video production can be time-consuming, which is why many people use film production fixers to secure the necessary permits and help with the pre-production process.

If you manage to secure everything you need, the rest of the project will be fun, including filming and editing! So, if you feel that filming in London might be too stressful, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

We’re always willing to lend a hand and have helped many of our clients’ film in one of the world’s most infamous cities.