In your travels as an event planner, you may plan events off-site and outdoors that will require a permit or special license. Concerts, a wedding at a park, and an organized outdoor event may all require special permits. When planning an event at any public venue it is best to assume a permit will be needed.

Athletic fundraising events such as an organized walk, a bike race, or a marathon planned by nonprofit agencies might also need permits. Other outdoor events such as a fair, farmer's market, or a block party may also require some types of permits.

Types of Permits

Permits are required for many reasons. The biggest reason for a permit deals with crowd control. Following is a list of the types of permits you may need when planning a future event:

  • A permit for outdoor spaces

  • A parking permit

  • A sound permit

  • A permit for security

  • A permit to hang a banner

  • A sanitation permit (for portable restrooms)

Permit information can be obtained over the Internet. Most cities and towns have Web sites with information regarding special permits. To obtain a permit, you must fill out the proper paperwork. A permit will most likely be accompanied by a charge or fee. Your local parks and recreation department, town hall, or city hall are good resources for obtaining permits.


The time it takes you to obtain a permit can depend on the region where you are planning the event. Some towns may require a few weeks to process a permit, while other cities may take months to process a permit. For example, a small coastal town in Massachusetts may require only a ten-day turnaround time for a permit. It may take four months or longer for a permit to be processed in New York City.

Wherever the location of your event, be sure to proceed with caution until you have the permit. An outdoor permit may not be obtained because the park has been booked, in which case all of the other details you have planned around the park event will need to be changed. If possible, either wait for the permit to be processed or have a backup plan for your first venue.

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