Imagine: You’re having your first big public event and everything is going smoothly. Your guests have RSVP’d, all of your vendors are on time, and your event space is looking perfect.

But lo and behold, you forgot to apply for some required public permits and now you’re in real trouble! We’ve highlighted the four most common permit categories below to make sure you’re not caught by surprise for your next public event.

The “Large Gathering” Permit

Frankly, the only real factor for this permit is the size of your attendee list. While this number will differ depending on your location, we found the average starts around 75 people. Remember: You only need to apply for a Large Gathering permit if your event is in a public space, not just because you have over a certain amount of people.

The “Using Public Property/Services” Permit

The purpose of this permit is that it allows your city to have a better idea of how to plan around your event on their end. As an example, let’s say you need to use a whole city block. That will most certainly affect traffic in that area, so they will need to have detours in place for the public. Typically you’ll need this permit if you are going to have temporary structures, roads closed, special parking, special trash/recycling pick-up, etc.

The “Selling Goods/Alcohol” Permit

As with anything official, you have to make sure your items are being taxed properly. Because there are both state and government taxes related to food, drink, and merchandise, you need to let your city know about any of these types of transactions. In addition to your “vendor” permit, you will need to complete an additional permit if there is alcohol on the premises.

The “Liability Insurance” Permit

Last but not least, a Liability Insurance permit will provide protection for your hosting organization, helping to cover a wide range of things that can go wrong. This could be necessary if someone suffers any damages at your event, if any of your equipment malfunctions, or if someone decides to vandalize any of the public property. For us, it’s definitely better safe than sorry on this one!

Pro-tip: Every city will have varying requirements for their permits, so make sure that you check your local city’s ordinances to see what permits (both optional and mandatory) that you need to apply for. The last thing you want on your big day is the city stepping in to shut down your event over unfiled paperwork.

Planning an event, especially a big one, can seem like a daunting task. There are a million things to do and, if you’re like most organizations, very few people to help. But don’t worry! We’ve broken down the event planning process into nine simple steps for overall success. Check out our free guide 9 Steps to Event Planning below!