“Due to the increase in incidents that have occurred over the years, municipalities are now holding event producers to much higher standards.” – Tweet This Quote These new and stricter standards, rules, and regulations were created to ensure that proper safety measures are in place prior to issuing necessary permits.
Obtaining permits has become a routine function in the event production world today. In almost every instance, you will be required to submit a CAD drawing of your event and all its elements to the venue, which will in turn submit that plan to the fire department for approval. While this is not technically a “permit,” you will need the fire marshal’s endorsement stating that you are adhering to all fire and safety measures. These measures include proper egress, no flammable storage in the room, no obstructed sprinkler heads, and proper aisle widths.
Permits will cover a wide range of restrictions that could have a profound effect on how you plan your event, so look into these restrictions as a first step in your planning process. For example, many venues—both indoor and outdoor—have a guest limit. They may also feature acceptable hours of use that are not conducive to your event’s schedule. There are also going to be special restrictions on the number of events that can be held in industrial or manufacturing zones. In short, if there’s a restriction out there that could put a wrench in your event-planning machine, find out as soon as possible.
Permits are not free; you’ll have to budget money and time for securing them. But you might as well get used to it; this approval is something you’ll need to have on hand in order to secure various other items.
When you hire a company to erect a tent, you will more than likely be required to procure a permit from your local municipality. Some locations may not require it, but most do. Some cities and states are more stringent in their requirements than others, so always check with the specific municipality the event will be held in to ensure they do not have extra requirements of which you are not aware.
Sometimes, the tent company will get the permit for you; others you will obtain yourself. Always ask the tent company who is responsible for procuring the permit. Tent permits can cost from $75 to $300 depending on the municipality in which you’re operating and can take several weeks for approval, so don’t put this task on the back burner, or you’ll disappoint your client and guests when you have to inform them that the event can’t take place due to tent permit issues.
Outdoor Event Permits
Permits are often required for any type of outdoor event—especially if you’re holding it in a public space like a state or city park. Some municipalities even require them for private spaces. The permit application typically must show a drawing of all of the components of the event. Here are just a few items that your permit must specify:
• Stage location
• Type of emergency services on-site
• Proposed route for emergency service vehicles
• Proper egress (exits)
Just like holding an event in a hotel ballroom or any other indoor venue, you must prove that safety is a top priority for guests and verify that you have fire marshal approval when you’re requesting an outdoor event permit. As safety becomes more and more of a concern, the permit requirements will only grow more stringent. I have been required to get a permit for outdoor music—even if it’s only a DJ.
Another important item that you need to be aware of whenever you are producing an event outside of the United States is the acquisition of work permits. In virtually any country outside the United States, all of your staff is going to be required to apply for work permits. These permits tell the host country’s immigration agency that you are visiting for a specific period of time, doing a specific job, and then you are leaving.
They can be expensive, sometimes running in excess of $300 to $500 per permit, but it’s a small price to pay for ensuring that you will not be shut down due to permit violations. Apply for the permits at least six to eight weeks before you’re going out of the country to ensure that you have plenty of time to receive them. Contact the host country’s immigration bureau to inquire about their rules and regulations. Whenever a permit is required, the more time you give the issuing body, the easier it will be to obtain.
Permits are a fact of life in our industry. They ensure the safety and enjoyment of all those involved in the planning and participation process. Permitting should be at the very top of an event planner’s list right from the get-go. Contact the municipality, state and or country where the event will be held and enquire about all relevant permits, costs and time needed to obtain said permits. This will also assist you in the budgeting process.
Avoid being shut down or missing permit deadlines by applying early.
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