Rules of the Eurovision Song Contest

As every contest, the Eurovision Song Contest also has Rules. They are usually published in the fall of the year before the contest.

Rules in 2016

Download the full Rules of the 2016 Eurovison Song Contest (PDF) or read the excerpts below.

Excerpts from the Rules

  • A maximum of 46 Active EBU Members shall be allowed to participate.
  • Active EBU Members from a maximum total of 26 countries shall compete in the Final. There shall be six guaranteed places therein: the Host Broadcaster, five EBU Members from France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom.
  • The contest is composed of three live Shows, two Semi- Finals usually taking place on Tuesdays and on Thursdays and one Final taking place on Saturdays.
  • Viewers in the countries of the Participating Broadcasters are invited to vote for their favourite songs (without the possibility of voting for the song representing their own country) by means of televoting.
  • In addition, in each participating country, there shall be a National Jury to be appointed by that country's Participating Broadcaster to vote in the Semi-Finals and in the Final.
  • With respect to the televoting, the song which has received the highest number of votes shall be ranked first, the song which has received the second highest number of votes shall be ranked second and so on until the last song.
  • With respect to the National Jury voting, the jury members shall rank first their favourite song, second, their second favourite song, third, their third favourite song, and so on until their least favourite song which shall be ranked last. Abstentions are not allowed, except that the song representing the country of the Participating Broadcaster which has appointed the National Jury shall be excluded from the vote.
  • In both Semi-Finals and in the Final, the ranks of the televoting and the National Jury shall be combined.
  • The compositions (lyrics and music) must not have been commercially released before the 1st of September 2015. In case the composition has been made available to the public, for example, but not limited to, on online video platforms, social networks or (semi-) publicly accessible databanks, the Participating Broadcaster must inform the Eurovision Song Contest Executive Supervisor, who shall have authority to evaluate whether the composition is eligible for participation in the Event.
  • The maximum duration of each song is three minutes.
  • Each performance may consist of a maximum of six people on stage. No live animals shall be allowed on stage.
  • All artists competing in a Semi-Final must be aged at least 16 on the day of the Final. All artists competing only in the Final must be aged at least 16 on the day of the Final.
  • No artist may compete for more than one country in the Eurovision Song Contest in a given year. Each Participating Broadcaster is free to decide the language in which its artist(s) will sing.
  • Artists shall perform live on stage, accompanied by a recorded backing-track which contains no vocals of any kind or any vocal imitations.
  • The lyrics and/or performance of the songs shall not bring the Shows, the Eurovision Song Contest as such or the EBU into disrepute. No lyrics, speeches, gestures of a political or similar nature shall be permitted during the Eurovision Song Contest. No swearing or other unacceptable language shall be allowed in the lyrics or in the performances of the songs. No messages promoting any organisation, institution, political cause or other, company, brand, products or services shall be allowed in the Shows and within any official Eurovision Song Contest premises (i.e. at the venue, the Eurovision village, the Press Centre, etc.). A breach of this rule may result in disqualification.
  • The full results of the televoting and jury voting in the Semi-Finals and the Final, as well as the individual ranking submitted by each jury member, shall be announced on the official website of the ESC,, after the end of the Final and such results may be made available on National Websites of the Participating Broadcasters.

Måns Zelmerlöw and Petra Mede hosted the two Semi-Finals and Grand Final in 2016.

Previous Rules

Below you can download previous versions of the Rules of the Eurovision Song Contest.