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Filming, photography and events on the tidal Thames

The Thames provides a fantastic backdrop for film and TV programme makers and has featured in many iconic moments in movies, from Harry Potter films through to James Bond's The World Is Not Enough.

George Clooney filming on the Thames

The tidal Thames – which stretches some 95 miles from the sea through the heart of the capital and as far west as Teddington – gives location managers a diverse mix of possible locations. 

This includes the marshes and wide expanses of sea in the Thames Estuary; iconic and historic buildings and a busy river in central London; or the tranquil river and towpaths of west London.  

All filming activity (and all commercial still photography) on the tidal Thames requires a filming licence. This includes ALL filming involving boats and vessels, as well as filming on the foreshore, piers and other structures in the river.

We can also advise on the possibilities for safe filming activity on the Thames foreshore (ie: the part of the river exposed at low tide).


Filming and photography on the tidal Thames is licensed by the PLA to help ensure that it is completed safely and does not interfere with operations on this busy tidal highway for passenger, tourist, freight and leisure vessels.  We can help guide you through securing the necessary PLA licence for filming on the Thames.

All licence applications must be submitted using the form at the foot of this page, which covers the key information we need to know to consider your request. 


A fee is charged for commercial filming and photography on the Thames, with charges reflecting its duration, complexity and purpose.  Fees are by agreement with the PLA Corporate Affairs team.

Drone filming

Some productions make use of drones in their filming operations. The consenting of drone operations over the river is completed via our online drone portal, which can be reached at this link.

River traffic management

Some particularly complex filming or events may need river traffic to be controlled for a limited period. In this case we may need to issue a Notice to Mariners so that river users are aware of the operation and to supply launches to patrol/control traffic on scene.

The costs of both these activities must be borne in full by the film maker/event producer.

Location spotlight: Richmond Lock & Weir

Our Grade II*-listed Richmond Lock and Weir is situated between Teddington and Richmond and offers a wonderful location for film and television productions, as well as still photography.

Richmond Lock & Weir

The footbridge is open for general public use between 6.30 am and 7.30 pm in the winter months and 6.30 am to 9.30 pm in the summer months.

If you require the bridge to be closed while filming took place, this can be arranged with due notice. This is the only bridge over the River Thames where a complete closure to the general public can be arranged.

If filming at this location, a PLA filming licence will still be required. Separate fees will be payable for both the licence and use of the location.

Richmond Lock & Weir terms and conditions

Catering and removal of litter

  1. All catering arrangements must be agreed in advance.
  2. It is the responsibility of the producer/location manager to ensure that all litter is removed before the end of filming each day.


  1. All charges will be agreed, and an agreement signed, in advance of filming.
  2. Please note that a filming license for footage of the river Thames must be applied for prior to any filming taking place with the PLAs Corporate Affairs department.
  3. Excess charges will be applied for any time overrun.

Checking in and out

  1. The location manager or notified person responsible for filming should contact the Duty Lock Foreman (0208 9400634), on arrival and again on departure.


  1. Richmond Lock is a working structure over a tidal river and as such any work with children must be risk assessed and agreed with the PLA's Assistant Harbour Master (Richmond) (AHM(R)) in advance.
  2. A child is considered to be a young person of less than 16 years old or still subject to full time education.


  1. Any areas to be coned off must be agreed in advance.

Cranes, camera cranes and aerial platforms

  1. Use of cherry-pickers or cranes must be agreed in advance of filming. The exact position of such equipment will be agreed and the producer/location manager will ensure that the position is maintained. Access for emergency vehicles must be maintained at all times.
  2. At night, or at times of poor visibility, warning lights must be placed around any cranes or cherry-pickers whether parked on a roadway or not.
  3. Rigging and de-rigging must only be carried out at times agreed with AHM(R) in advance of filming.

Health & Safety and risk assessment

  1. Full consideration of Health & Safety issues must be taken and proven by the producer or location manager.
  2. The producer or location manager must appoint a competent person to act as the Health & Safety representative and a full risk assessment of the location must be carried out.
  3. The Health & Safety representative must be on location at all times to co-ordinate and monitor Health & Safety systems and any control measures put in place as a result of the risk assessment.
  4. The instructions of the Assistant Harbour Master (Richmond) or Duty Lock Foreman should be followed at all times.

Promotional events

The tidal Thames is periodically used for a range of events from public awareness raising to commercial product launches. All such events must be discussed and agreed with the PLA.

If you are looking to arrange such an event must get in touch with us at the earliest opportunity and at least six weeks before the date of the event being considered. Use our form to submit as much information as possible.

Fees for events on the river are by agreement with the PLA Corporate Affairs team.

Read our event organiser guidance at the bottom of this page for additional information.


To begin the process of obtaining a filming or photography permit on the tidal Thames use the following form to provide as much information as possible.

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