Feaured Image

A guide to filming on public transport in London

Public transport settings can be a vital part of a plot or storyline – think Skyfall; Temple and Sherlock. But in the case of London, with an estimated three million people a day using the tube, trains and buses, it can seem an added logistical headache.

So with the help of Transport for London (TfL)’s Film Office, we bring you a guide to filming on public transport in the capital – from permits and notice periods to key restrictions and insurance.

*TFL Film Office covers: London Underground, London Overground, Docklands Light Railway, TFL Piers & IFS Cloud Cable Car.

Notice period

A notice period of at least 15 working days is required when applying to film in a TFL location. There can be faster turnarounds, depending on the type of request, but a fee could be incurred of around £600 for these. 


• A copy of the storyboard/brief/layout/script. You can send a synopsis before submitting your full application, and TFL can offer guidance on how to align your story with any relevant restrictions

• An insurance certificate for at least £10m of public liability in the name of the company undertaking the filming

If you’re looking to recreate a TfL setting or use TFL’s IP in the background of a scene, there is a form on the website about using TfL brand IP. If filming is for a marketing campaign, consideration will need to be given for the use of TfL’s IP for which there are additional charges.

Permit costs

The cost of permits depends somewhat on the choice of station, but below are the key price bands for filming according to crew size.

• Crew size 1-10 people: £900 an hour

• Crew size 10-20 people: £1,100 an hour

• Use of an exclusive area from £2,000 per hour

• There will be a fee for staff supervision on top of this, at around £70 per hour

*Rates for using an exclusive area (see ‘Stations’ heading below) start at £2,000 per hour (not including staff costs).


Some underground stations are more suitable than others for filming. Operational stations clearly present more of a challenge, but there are clear guidelines on which hours they can be ‘open’ for filming.

As well as the operational stations, TFL runs exclusive locations within its network that can be used for filming at particular times of the day and week. Aldwych station, that closed in 1994, is perhaps the best-known example of these. Open for filming seven days a week, it offers period architecture and disused tunnels, and has been used in productions such as Darkest Hour,  Sherlock and Luther: The Fallen Sun.

Other sites that can be available exclusively for shooting at specific times – engineering works permitting – include Charing Cross (including the use of a train) and Bank (including passenger walkways, escalators and a Waterloo & City line train).

Type and style of station is always down to the individual production/agency and some stations lend themselves better for filming than others, for obvious reasons.  We also have exclusive sites that can be used at certain times of the day and week.  Quality 360 degree imagery of these stations can be seen on this site.


Lighting and equipment

• Unless you are filming in an exclusive area (see ‘Stations’ heading above), flash photography or additional lighting is not permitted. TFL Film Office can advise on exceptions to this
• Tripods are allowed at the discretion of the staff operating the location, and cannot be used near station platforms or escalators
• Any kit, lighting or props that are more than 1.8m in length or 25kg in weight need ‘special movement’ dispensation when using the escalators, and cannot be used in an operational environment

The following is a list of activities that are not allowed to be filmed or photographed:

• Vandalism or graffiti

• Assaults on passengers or staff

• Suicides

• Fare evasion or ticket touting

• Use of firearms or weapons

• Drinking or carrying open containers of alcohol

• Misuse of escalators or LU property

• Unlicensed busking

• Begging

• Smoking or the use of illegal drugs

• Behaving in an overtly sexual or indecent manner (including nudity)

• Direct threats (including terrorist) to LU, its staff or passengers

• Anything that may negatively affect the interests of the site owner

Power supply

Crews are expected to use battery-operated equipment when possible. London Underground (LU) uses a different voltage system so any connections to its power supply have to be supervised by an LU electrician, for which there is a fee, and an advance notice period required. 

Petrol or diesel generators are totally prohibited at LU, LO and DLR stations and trains.

Filming on buses

It is not generally permitted to film on buses that are in service at the time. You can, however, hire a bus with driver that will look like the one on the route required for your production. Again, scripts must be checked with the film office before hiring the bus.

Bus stations and depots

Bus stations and depots are run by a variety of operators, many of whom will not permit filming. Some do allow limited periods of production as long as costs are met for the supervision etc.

The various bus operators are listed on TFL’s Film Office website; they would need at least seven days’ notice ahead of the filming time.

You will also need to provide them with:

  • Proof of insurance, with a public liability of at least £2m
  • Description of what you will be filming and what the film will be used for
  • Number of people involved in filming
  • Times you would like to film
  • How long you expect to film for

There is also an additional cost for filming in the driver’s cab of £500 plus VAT per hour. A member of operational staff will need to supervise the shoot and a maximum of two crew plus equipment are allowed.

With many thanks to TfL’s Film Office for the information and images provided in this guide; full details and application forms can be found here.

Share this Article