What to do
1. See if you need this permit
You need this permit to hold an indoor event with live entertainment, like a band, DJ, comedy show, dance act, or a fashion show.
You don’t need this permit if the place where you will be holding the event has a Place of Entertainment (POE) or Limited Live Performance (LLP) Permit. But you do need this permit if you want to extend the hours of entertainment at a POE or LLP.
You don’t need this permit for an event with amplified sound only (like music played on an iPod, speeches, or a film screening) that is entirely indoors.
You don’t need this permit for an event at a private residence.
2. Get permission from the property owner or manager
That could be a:
- Letter from the property owner or manager
- Contract to rent the space
- Special Event License from the Port of San Francisco
If you are the property owner or manager, you don't need a letter or contract. You can just confirm your status on the application.
The same premises can't have an event more than 12 days in a year.
3. Check health and safety rules
While most pandemic rules have been removed as of 6/15/21, some rules are still in effect. Everyone at the location must follow any local and state health guidelines as applicable. Here are the latest updates (not a complete list):
- Everyone should get vaccinated against COVID-19 if eligible.
- Even though reduced capacity restrictions have been removed, the location’s original occupancy load requirements must be maintained.
- In general, SF is now following State guidelines about face coverings.
- Masks are required for unvaccinated individuals in indoor public settings and businesses. But as of 7/16/21, all Bay Area counties strongly urge that everyone, even if vaccinated, wear masks in indoor public places.
- Some businesses may choose to require all customers and staff wear a mask instead of asking their vaccination status. Learn more about masks.
- Physical distancing is no longer required for attendees, customers, or guests.
- As a business owner, you can choose to apply stricter requirements than the City or state on masking, capacity, etc.
- Mega Indoor Events (over 5,000 people) require a health plan (see pg. 11) submitted to SF Dept. of Public Health at least 10 days in advance of the event, but are not required to wait for approval. Proof of full vaccination or negative COVID-19 test result is strongly recommended.
- Required Signage: All SF businesses must post signage about COVID-19 prevention and getting vaccinated.
- Proof of Vaccination or Negative COVID-19 Test:
- Businesses/venue operators may require attendees, customers, or guests to show proof of full vaccination or negative test result prior to entry.
- Businesses/venue operators may utilize self-attestation at point of registration, during ticket purchase, or on the day of the event prior to entry.
4. Get other permits
If the venue’s maximum capacity is 50 people or more, you need a temporary or permanent Place of Assembly Permit from the Fire Department. We need a copy of this permit. If you don't already have this permit, call the SF Fire Department Permit Desk at 628-652-3260 to learn more. You must apply for this permit in person at the Permit Center at 49 South Van Ness. You may need a fire inspection.
If you’re serving food or drink, you will need a permit from the SF Department of Public Health. This permit would be either the Temporary Event Health Permit for the event, or the establishment's permanent Food Permit to Operate. We need a copy of this permit.
If you’re serving alcohol, you need a permit from the local ABC office and the Police District Station where the event is located.
5. Get your documents ready
You will need the details of the entertainment and hours. You will also need your event floorplan (hand-drawn is acceptable). The floorplan must show where you will you have:
- entrances and exits
- security guards
If you have a security plan, you can upload it on the application. If you don’t already have a security plan, you will need to create one by answering the Security Plan questions in the application.
You must upload a copy of your Fire or Health permit if it's required in Step 4.
6. Fill out the application
In the application, you will need to agree to the rules and responsibilities. You will need to give detailed responses to the security plan questions; short, one-sentence answers will not be accepted.
It will take about 30 minutes. We will send you a confirmation email and information about what to do next.
7. Pay the permit fee
Pay the fee using the online portal. Application filing fee is $510.
For a business that qualifies for the City's First Year Free program, first email us to request a fee waiver at email@example.com and include your business name, address, and Business Account Number (BAN).
The SF Entertainment Commission has the right to deny an application submitted less than 7 days before an event. Once we begin processing your application, we may not refund your fee.
You can apply for a fee waiver if your event received a grant from the City and County of San Francisco.
You can apply for a fee waiver if you, the organizer, get some kind of public assistance or if paying the fee would not leave you enough money to live on.
You can also apply for a fee waiver if ALL of the following applies to your event:
- the event is free and open to the public
- the event is run by a nonprofit organization, neighborhood association, or similar community-based group
- the permit fee is more than 25% of the total budget for the event
The Entertainment Commission supports a thriving entertainment and nightlife culture that balances the needs of the City’s entertainment community, its audiences, and its neighbors across all district neighborhoods.
Entertainment Commission49 South Van Ness
San Francisco, CA 94103
This is our office but it's not open to the public. The Permit Center is accepting walk-ins.
Last updated January 24, 2023