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Busking permits

Find out about the different types of busking permits available and the process for applying or renewing.

A busker plays guitar in front of a small crowd of passers-by in Bourke St Mall, Melbourne CBD.

The City of Melbourne welcomes all varieties of buskers and street performers to perform on our streets. Musicians, singers, dancers, magicians, mimes, puppeteers, living statues, painters, pavement artists and chalk artists are all eligible.

Melbourne Busking Handbook

The Melbourne Busking Handbook has detailed information on permits, auditions and other key requirements for buskers. Download it below:

What is busking?

Busking is a public performance in exchange for a donation.  

This may include playing a musical instrument, singing, giving a recitation, or performing any conjuring, juggling, puppetry, mime, dance, or other entertainment. Busking also includes pavement art such as chalk art, drawing and painting.  

The City of Melbourne may also approve unique and special activities that meet the busking principles.

A permit is needed to busk in the City of Melbourne. 

What is not considered busking?

The below activities are not considered busking, so will not be issued busking permits; however, they may be eligible for other permit types:

  • street trading of any kind including but not limited to: glow sticks, flowers, jewellery, wire twisting, printed poetry or stories, photography, origami, games of chance, cosplay and soliciting donations for photos while dressed in character costumes, artists selling prefabricated work and other merchandise sellers  
  • fundraising, events, promotions, surveys or advertising, even if they involve any element of performance  
  • touting or spruiking including religious spruiking or street preaching 
  • tarot card reading, palmistry and fortune telling 
  • massage, chiropractic treatment or any other physical manipulation 
  • face or body painting including henna and temporary tattoo applications 
  • animal acts or where animals are involved in any part of the performance  
  • bubble blowing 
  • demonstrations or lessons.

How to apply for a busking permit

New applicants and buskers who have not attended a safety and performance review in the past five years may be required to attend a virtual seminar, live audition or safety assessment depending on their performance type. We’ll let you know once we receive your application. 

If you’re under 16, you must obtain consent from a parent or legal guardian (please note that the City of Melbourne reserves the right to impose conditions on approvals for busking permits for persons under 16). 

Read through the handbook and the information below, and then hit the 'apply' button to get started.

Before you apply, you will need to:

When you apply, you will need to:

  • Provide a digital example of your busking act (link to your online act profile, photos or video).
  • If you don’t provide a link to online examples of your act, you’ll need to upload a video of yourself performing your act (accepted video file formats: .avi, .mp3, .mp4, with a maximum file size of 2 GB).

General area, pavement art and circle act permits

  • New permits and reapplications (valid for 12 months from date of issue) are $40.00.  

Premium permits

  • $100.00 for new permits and permit reapplications (valid for 12 months from date of issue)
  • $55.00 for short-term permits for interstate or international applicants (valid for three months).
  • Premium permit fee includes the general area fee.

Street entertainment permits

  • $325.00 (valid for 12 months from date of issue). The selling component is included in this fee.

Selling fees

  • An additional selling fee of $106.00 will apply if you want to sell CDs, DVDs or original artworks produced while busking.
  • If you are busking as a member of a group and group members are selling the same CD or DVD, only one selling fee is applicable. All group members must have their own individual busking permit, but do not need to pay separate selling fees.

Apply for a busking or street entertainment permit

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Types of busking permits

Note: please refer to the Melbourne Busking Handbook for detailed information on permit types and requirements.

General area busking permits

A guitarist and a saxophonist perform on a street in Southbank, Melbourne CBD.

A general area permit allows you to perform in all locations except for premium busking sites, designated circle act sites and other restricted areas. If dangerous goods are not used in your act, then you can apply for a general area busking permit. 

Examples of performers considered for this permit include:  

  • musicians
  • singers
  • dancers
  • magicians
  • mimes
  • puppeteers
  • living statue artists.

General area permit holders are permitted to perform within a space of maximum 2m² for a maximum of two hours per day at each location. Once two hours is reached, the busker must move to another busking location (at least 50 metres away) and not return to the same location again that day. This is to encourage variety and ensure that everyone is given a fair opportunity at each pitch.

This permit type allows for the sale of approved items which directly relate to your performance, and permits solo, duo, trio and group acts up to five members. Artworks are not permitted.

Pavement art busking permits

An artist paints a rendition of "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" painting directly onto the sidewalk on a street in the Melbourne CBD.

If you are an artist working directly on the pavement with chalk or other approved material, or on paper or canvas (for example, by using an easel), you can apply for a pavement art busking permit.

To be eligible for a pavement art busking permit you must be actively creating artwork in public places. Pavement art does not include passively sitting or standing next to prefabricated, static or commercial brand displays or portraiture/caricature.

Pavement artists may remain in the same location for a four-hour period and then must move to another location at least 50 metres away. Chalk artists or artists who work on large canvases are permitted to remain in one location for up to eight hours. Your busking space must not exceed 2m² unless approved in writing by the City of Melbourne.

This permit type does allow you to sell approved artworks created in the public place.

Circle act busking permits

Two performers engage in an act in Federation Square in the Melbourne CBD.

You can apply for a circle act busking permit if your performances or routines are: 

  • structured
  • involve dangerous goods
  • need more than 2m² space to be performed safely 
  • require your audience to stop, watch and participate. 

Examples include elements of street theatre, puppetry, dance, comedy, fire manipulation, juggling, acrobatics and other circus skills.

The circle act busking permit allows buskers to perform in designated areas in the city.  

Performances must not exceed 60 minutes in duration. Time on the pitch should also include pack up and cleaning of the site.

Safety assessment dates  

Circle acts with dangerous goods safety assessments are held monthly at Queensbridge Square, Southbank.

You must register your interest and have your application confirmed before attending a safety assessment. The assessments will not run unless we have confirmed applications.  

Register your interestOpens in new tab by midday on the Monday before the safety assessment date.

2024 dates

Safety assessment datesRegistration deadline
Sunday 21 July from 9am12pm Monday 15 July
Sunday 18 August from 9am12pm Monday 12 August
Sunday 15 September from 9am12pm Monday 9 September
Sunday 20 October from 9am12pm Monday 14 October 2024
Sunday 17 November from 9am12pm Monday 11 November
Sunday 22 December 2024 from 9am12pm Monday 16 December 2024

Premium busking permits

A smiling woman with curly red hair plays violin in Bourke Street Mall in the Melbourne CBD.

If you’re a professional busker wanting to perform in designated locations, including Bourke Street Mall, you can apply for a premium busking permit.

You are considered a professional busker if:

  • busking is your main source of income
  • you have a repertoire that enables you to perform for at least 30 minutes without repeating a song, and
  • you have a website, YouTube, Facebook or other online profile.

This permit type allows for the sale of approved items which directly relate to your performance, and permits solo, duo, trio and group acts up to five members. 

Permit types

There are two permit options: Premium (Victorian resident permit) and Premium (non-Victorian resident) permit.

Premium (Victorian resident permit) – 12 months (Renewable)

  • Live auditions required.
  • Applicants must demonstrate that they have been busking with a valid general area permit for a minimum of six months before applying.

Premium (non-Victorian resident) permit – 3 months (Once off permit)

  • Online assessment required for short-term permits for interstate or international applicants.

Auditions for premium busking permits 

As part of applying for a premium busking permit (excluding short-term interstate or international applications), you will need to perform your busking act at a live audition.

Once you have submitted a permit application, please contactOpens in new tab the busking coordinator to register for an audition. Auditions for premium busking permit applicants take place in the Bourke Street Mall busking sites. 

Audition dates

Audition datesRegistration deadlines
Wednesday 14 August 2024​12pm Wednesday 7 August 2024
Wednesday 2​7 November 2024​12pm Wednesday 20 November 2024

Assessments for short-term interstate or international applications take place monthly. Once you have submitted a permit application, please contactOpens in new tab the busking coordinator.

Locations and site allocation  

Premium permit locations include the five musical sites and one non-musical site in Bourke Street Mall. 

Premium permit holders attend a weekly meeting to choose busking locations in the Bourke Street Mall for the week ahead. Meetings are held online on Wednesday mornings. 

Sites are chosen through a ballot draw in the presence of other premium buskers to ensure equity of access and diversity of performances in the Bourke Street Mall.  

Buskers in the Bourke Street Mall perform alternating sets of 30 minutes with a 30-minute break. 

Street entertainment permits

This permit is for performances that aren’t eligible for other busking or street trading permits but are otherwise entertaining, engaging, create a sense of curiosity and interest, and include selling in the public place. With this permit, you can perform in all locations except for premium busking sites, designated circle act sites and other restricted areas (Unless approved in writing by the City of Melbourne). 

Examples of performance types considered for this permit include:

  • portraiture
  • caricature
  • spray-painting vinyl records
  • typewriter poets
  • balloon twisting.

No dangerous goods can be used in your performance.

Street entertainment permit holders are permitted to perform for a maximum of four hours per day at each location (in a busking space of up to 2m²). Once four hours is reached, the busker must move to another busking location (at least 50 metres away) and not return to the same location again that day. This is to encourage variety and ensure that everyone is given a fair opportunity at each pitch.

This permit type allows for the sale of approved items which directly relate to your performance, and permits solo, duo, trio and group acts up to five members. 

Busking induction video

Learn the rules for busking safely and successfully in the City of Melbourne.

(upbeat music) - [Elizabeth Russell] Welcome to Melbourne, a city that inspires experimentation innovation, and creativity. (upbeat music) We're immensely proud of our lively street performance culture. Many world famous artists
got their start right here on our streets. Because we want to provide a safe, accessible and culturally appropriate environment for all buskers, visitors, workers, and residents we've developed a busking handbook. 

This video will guide you through some of the key information in the handbook, such as when and where you can perform, how to manage your sound and performance space, and how to resolve any problems. You can find the busking handbook and a full FAQ section on our website. Together, the handbook, website, and this video will equip you with the skills and knowledge to busk safely and successfully in the city. -

[Emily Lawson] When I  first started busking I made sure I knew where I was and wasn't allowed to play. I'd recommend taking a stroll around and getting to know these locations so you are well prepared. - Before you start busking, think about how you're going to set up your equipment. Think about your act and how it will work for the space you are performing in. Also known as a busking pitch. Some pitches may not be suitable for certain acts. Such as those using fire, or special equipment that needs a bigger space. There are two pitches on Southbank Promenade which are priority spaces for acts that use dangerous goods. Higher profile pitches like the Bourke Street Mall, require a specific permit to be able to busk there. And several locations in the city do not permit amplification at certain times. 

[Andrew Demetriou] So if you can't find a suitable space just be patient away for one to become free. But if you have a good spot make sure you're considerate in sharing with other buskers. (playing saxophone) - Take a look at our website to find more detailed information on these special busking zones. Some things to think about when you're setting up or performing are, how much equipment are you going to use? Is your equipment set up so that nobody could fall or trip over it? 

Are you leaving enough space for everyone, including prams, wheelchairs, and people with accessibility needs to comfortably pass by you and your audience and enter to shops. And finally, have you cleaned up after your busking set and made sure that the pitch is kept tidy during your shows? - [Flynn Gurry] Playing too loud or with heavy distortion
really upsets people. So when I'm playing in Melbourne, I try to make sure that I keep within the permitted range. - While busking is an enjoyable part of Melbourne city life, sound from busking performances has the potential to affect business trading, workplace performance and public amenity. So it's important that you keep your sound
within the designated levels. Amplification is only permitted within certain parts of the city and only with battery powered devices. When setting up, make sure that the speakers are not facing directly into open shop fronts. You should also think about the quality of the sound you're projecting. Make sure your equipment is
in good order and in tune. Some instruments such as wind, brass, and percussion may be loud enough that they do not need extra amplification to be heard by your immediate audience. Remember to help manage your sound. Be aware that there are
specific locations in the city and set times when amplification is allowed. Stick to the time limit for your permit type.

Also, try to vary your sets in busking locations. (upbeat music) Busking should be a positive experience for everyone in Melbourne so make sure your performances are family friendly suitable for the general public and also respectful of traders and businesses around you. 

 [Luth Wolff] Before I perform on a new pitch for the first time I like to check in with the other local buskers the traders, and the businesses. Any problems can usually be resolved long before a complaint is made. - We also want you to feel
safe performing on our streets. So if you're feeling threatened or unsure about anything speak with one of our city of Melbourne local laws officers, or call us on nine six five eight nine six five eight to resolve any issues on your pitch. 

[Mat Kohey] Now remember, you'll be performing on the street where anything can happen. Have your wits about you, be aware of your surroundings and be ready to change on the fly in case anything goes pear shaped. - In an emergency situation, always called triple zero for the police to attend or ask an audience member to call for you. From time to time there will be events, emergencies, city works or other sudden changes that mean busking won't be possible. In these circumstances, authorised council officers, the police, or emergency services may ask you to stop or to move to another busking site. 

This may also be the case if utility companies need to access a busking pitch at short notice to carry out repairs. If you want to make any changes, or apply for other permits, or have any questions about busking in Melbourne head to for details or call us on 9658958. You can keep updated on planned changes through our website and mailing list. Before you apply for your permit please read through the Melbourne Busking Handbook the information on our website and clue yourself into
the application process.

 If you'd like to talk to someone about your application, please contact us. We're here to help. (upbeat music)

Got a question?

If you need some help, you can ask a busking question online – make sure you put "busking" in the subject line.

Ask a busking question

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