Talent Agency Licensing Frequently Asked Questions

Talent agents play a vital role in British Columbia's film and television industry and it is important that all aspects of the industry reflect the kind of professionalism for which B.C. is known.

In response to entertainment industry requests, the B.C. government put regulations in place that would provide a framework to protect performers and ensure the film industry in B.C. continues to flourish.

The regulations became effective September 22, 1999.

Unless you are a licensed talent agent, any money you receive on behalf of a client must be turned over to the client in total. You will not be able to deduct any fees or commissions from the client's earnings or charge any fees for your services.

If you are recruiting talent in British Columbia, the B.C. Employment Standards Act and Regulation require you to be licensed as a talent agency.

Licensing information and application forms are available online.

All licence applications are processed at the Employment Standards Branch office located at:

200 - 880 Douglas Street
Victoria, BC  V8W 2B7

Mailing address: PO Box 9571 Stn Prov Govt, Victoria, BC  V8W 9K1 

You must include:

  • a completed application form which is signed by the Director(s), Officer(s) and Owner(s) of the talent agency;
  • a copy of the talent agency’s standard contract;
  • $100 licence fee; and
  • $725 bond in accordance with the Bonding Act.

A talent agency must renew its licence annually by completing an application form and paying the $100 licence fee.

The Employment Standards Branch can be reached by calling 1-800-663-3316.

If you are applying for a licence for the first time, a delegate from the Branch will interview you either by phone or in person before issuing a licence. It may take several weeks to receive your licence.

Licence renewals normally take approximately two weeks after the renewal application and fee is received, unless the Branch undertakes further investigation. Renewal applications must be received before the expiry of the licence. If an agency operates without a licence it will be subject to a penalty. Renewal reminders are not mailed to agencies.

Agents seeking a licence will be required to familiarize themselves with the Employment Standards Act and Regulation and provide any information requested by the Employment Standards Branch about their agency.

The Director of Employment Standards may refuse to issue a licence to an applicant who is, or has been, in contravention of the Employment Standards Act or Regulation, or involved in any activity that the director determines to be illegal, dishonest, fraudulent or deliberately misleading, and which is related to the operation of the talent agency.

New licence applications can take several weeks to be investigated prior to a Branch delegate determining if it will be granted.

Renewal licences generally take less than two weeks to process.

The primary source of information about talent agents is the people the agents represent.

Any complaints the Employment Standards Branch receives about an agent will be investigated. If an agent is not meeting the requirements of the regulations, their licence can be suspended or cancelled.

The Director of Employment Standards can suspend or cancel a talent agency's licence if the talent agency:

  • Makes a false or misleading statement in its application for a licence.
  • Contravenes the Employment Standards Act or Regulation.
  • Does not display the agency’s licence number on all public advertising.
  • Is or has been involved in any activity that the director determines to be illegal, dishonest, fraudulent or deliberately misleading, and which is related to the operation of the talent agency.

In most cases the Employment Standards Branch will contact you to get more information and try to resolve the complaint.

If the complaint cannot readily be resolved, the Branch will conduct an investigation. When the investigation is complete the Branch can issue a Determination (a decision).

If it is determined that you owe a client money, the Director of Employment Standards may initiate collection action to recover funds.

That depends on whether your licence has been suspended or cancelled.

If your licence has been suspended because you do not meet a condition of the Employment Standards Act or Regulation, your licence can be re-instated once you are in compliance with the Act.

If your licence has been cancelled, you may reapply to the Director of Employment Standards.

This can be a conflict of interest, as a talent agency can be found to be in contravention of the Employment Standards Act and Regulation by charging for these other services. No fees other than those allowed by the Regulation can be charged to or deducted from a performer or technical creative film person. Persons referred to as "models" are often found to be performers, extras or actors covered by the provisions of the Employment Standards Act and Regulation.

In some sectors of the industry, a producer may pay a talent agent directly for providing talent. This is sometimes called a "booking fee."

Booking fees are not part of a performer’s income and should not show on the performer’s pay statement. They are not subject to the requirements of the Employment Standards Act.

Producers, talent agencies and their payroll departments or services must ensure these payments are processed separately.

No, you may not bill or charge your client for this service. The cost for online photo services such as "The Casting Workbook" or "The Link" must be paid directly to the service, by the client. It is up to the client to decide if they want their photo or information to be put online at their expense.

Talent agencies can charge performers a fee on any service they provide to the performer. However, the total amount of fees charged cannot exceed 15 percent of the performer’s "wages" as that term is defined in the Act. For this reason many talent agencies only charge a fee on amounts that fall within the definition of “wages”. “Wages” includes any money paid or payable by an employer for services rendered or labour provided, or incentives that relate to hours of work, production or efficiency; but does not include allowances or expenses.

Wages for performers typically includes pay for straight time, overtime, use fees, residuals, meal penalties and vacation pay. Other payments that also meet the definition of wages include wardrobe call, travel time, audition fees, improv fees, stunt fees and use of TV commercials in a program.

Performers receive a number of payments from production companies that do not meet the definition of wages under the Act. These payments will typically include per diems, travel or mileage expenses, GST, retirement payments, insurance benefits, wardrobe fees, compensation for specialized items, late payment penalties, audition delay/recall fees and callback fees. As these payments are not “wages” as defined in the Act, they cannot be included in the amount the employment agency uses to calculate its maximum fee.