Street performance and busking
You need a licence to busk or perform in a public place or to create pavement art. There is no cost for the licence.
Before you start
Check that your performance needs a licence and what defines a public place.
Also familiarise yourself with the conditions of a street performance licence.
In you application please include:
- your email address, so we can email the licence if approved
- the area where you will be performing the most
- parental consent (if you are 14 years or under)
- a health and safety plan, if your activity is a dangerous act.
There is no fee for a street performance licence.
If your performance is in the central business district (CBD), you can apply for approval from a City Watch Officer anytime - day or night. These officers patrol the central city CBD area.
What is a public place?
A public place is any site that Auckland Council or a council controlled organisation own, manage or maintain, and is open for use to the public.
Public spaces include roads, footpaths, public squares, grass verges, public gardens, reserves, parks, beaches, wharves, access ways and sports fields.
The following locations are not covered by your street performance licence and you must ask permission from the managing organisation:
Performances that need a licence
You need a licence to perform the following activities in a public place:
- playing an instrument
- performance art
- magic tricks
- reciting poetry or storytelling.
If your performance involves pavement art, see our Guidelines for pavement art.
Street performance artists are not covered by Auckland Council’s public liability insurance. You are liable for any damage to public property and you should have personal public liability insurance.
You will need to:
If you breach these conditions, or don't carry photo identification, we can revoke your licence.
Street performance licences are valid for 12 months.
You will need to apply for a new licence when your old one expires.
Acts with dangerous materials, objects or animals
You need a special Street Performance Licence if your act involves dangerous materials, objects or animals. You also need to follow the standard conditions of street performance.
Special Street Performance Licences are only valid for individuals, and not groups.
You will need to submit a Special street performance safety plan (PDF 68KB) showing us how you plan to keep the public safe.
Before issuing a Special Street Performance Licence, we check you understand safety principles for your planned performance.
Conditions of a street performance licence
You must comply with these conditions or we may revoke your licence. Click on each guideline to find out more.
Anyone performing in a public place must hold a current Auckland Council Street Performance Licence (with the exception of those performing as part of an 'organised event').
You must carry your licence and photo identification at all times while you are performing, and produce it when an authorised officer asks to see it.
Your licence must be signed to show you agree with these conditions.
Quiet acts may be performed at any time and at any public place managed by Auckland Council so long as the performer is licenced and all street performance conditions are met.
The use or playing of any instrument, public address system or amplified sound performances may take place on any day between 7am and 9pm as long as you comply with the conditions of the Trading and Events in Public Places Bylaw 2015.
Sound performances in designated areas, as identified by the Auckland Council, may have hours extended.
Street performers must comply with the instructions of Auckland Council on site and must move or cease performing if requested to do so by a nearby building occupant.
In these locations, performances may only take place with prior permission from the relevant authority or department of Auckland Council:
- Britomart Railway Station and the Station Plaza immediately at the rear of the station
- Britomart Precinct
- Viaduct Harbour
You may perform in Aotea Square, but you must first check with the Aotea Square manager to see if an event is scheduled or if construction work is taking place.
In the future, Auckland Council may designate other restricted areas.
Every street performer has a duty to ensure that they are not creating a nuisance or making excessive noise. This duty applies under the Resource Management Act 1991 and is also a condition of the Public Safety and Nuisance Bylaw 2013.
A council warranted officer can also direct a person to reduce excessive noise. As a guideline, sound levels from any street performance act should not:
- cause the performance to disturb customers or staff of nearby businesses
- be greater than usual background noise when heard from 30 metres (horizontal or vertical) away from where the performance is taking place.
Usual background noise is assessed by a council officer or nominated representative. They assess the sound volume of a street performance taking into account the location, time, day of the week, weather and traffic conditions and other activities happening in the area.
Sound performances have special conditions. Sound performances that meet all the conditions outlined in the code of conduct may take place on any day between 7am and 9pm.
Auckland Council may choose to extend sound performance hours during organised events.
Outside of areas where designated pitches have been identified, sound performances must be sited 50 metres away from another sound performance.
Performers, or groups of performers, are limited to a maximum total of 90 minutes on any one site. This includes up to 60 minutes of performance and up to 30 minutes set up / pack down per day on any one site.
The exception to this condition is for circle acts or performers with a special street performance permit. Circle acts or acts with SSPLs may perform a maximum of two acts on the same site, on the same day if they ensure there is a break in between the two performances of at least 30 minutes.
When performing in areas with designated pitches, only these sites may be used for street performance.
Any street performance site or pitch can become unavailable due to Auckland Council public works or organised events located on or around these sites. Pitches may move, be temporarily unavailable or permanently removed at Auckland Council’s discretion.
Street performers must follow the direction of Auckland Council authorised officers if any street performance site or pitch becomes unavailable either temporarily or permanently.
In the case of an organised event, performers should not attempt to associate themselves with that event and should be sited at least 500m from the edge of that event.
Street performers who are part of a permitted organised event must ensure they comply with the conditions set out in street performance permit and any other conditions.
Circle acts may only take place in designated circle act sites.
In the CBD, the only approved sites are Queen Elizabeth II Square and Freyberg Square.
If a street performer is located directly outside a retailer and is breaking the code of conduct, the performer must move on if requested to do so by the retailer.
Street performers must ensure free and safe access for pedestrians along any pathways or thoroughfares near the performance pitch. Performers and their audience must not block shop doorways during business hours, bus stops, fire escapes, roads and residential doorways.
Wheelchair access around a pitch must be maintained at all times.
Street performers must not perform within five metres of a road intersection including any pedestrian or traffic signals.
Street performers should have sufficient repertoire to fill the length of time they chose to be on the pitch (maximum 60 minutes playing time) without repetition of items or songs.
If a performer continues to repeat items they may be asked to cease performing. Performers must immediately comply with this request.
Street performers, who in addition to their performance wish to sell CDs of their own original work, may do so during the performance or set up and pack down period.
A small sign (no larger than A4) sited on the pitch may alert the public to this opportunity.
Street performers may not display, demonstrate or advertise other goods or services for sale or associate themselves with advertising in conjunction with their performance.
Street performers may give audiences an opportunity to provide voluntary donations by placing a container on their pitch or by asking an audience for donations.
Street performers may not approach individuals requesting money or solicit funds in a way that is likely to cause any discomfort to members of the public.
Street performers must take all practicable steps to ensure their performance causes no harm to themselves or members of the public.
Street performance artists are not covered by Auckland Council’s public liability insurance. The performer is liable for any damage to public property and are advised to hold personal public liability insurance.
Street performers must ensure that the pitch being used is kept clean and tidy before, during and after a performance.
Street performers must obtain a SSPP (Special Street Performance Permit) if they intend to use dangerous materials or objects. In issuing an SSPP, Auckland Council is only limiting the location of such a performance - it is not condoning or accepting responsibility for the content of the performance.
SSPPs are only issued to individuals and not groups. Each performer in a group must hold a current licence.
A SSPP may be withdrawn if any of the conditions of the street performance permit is not meet. Any performer whose license is withdrawn is not eligible to reapply for at least one year.
The performance space must be defined by setting a visible boundary of at least two metres between the performer and the audience using:
1. a roped or chained off area
2. a chalk line that is removed once the performer has completed the act.
Acts using flammable materials must include a fire blanket or fire extinguisher in their performance kits. This should be visible and accessible throughout the performance.
Pavement artists must work directly on the footpath using materials that can be washed off with water without leaving a residue. Materials must not be slippery or likely to impact on public safety.
Advertising is not permitted in/on pavement art.
See our guidelines for pavement art.