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Starting your own business can be a daunting prospect, and unfortunately, many businesses end up failing. However, this is typically the case because businesses have either not prepared or have not committed to the business. One of the main issues businesses face is not applying for the appropriate licences before they begin operation. Depending on the type of business you are in, you will have to apply for the relevant licence. This article will explain common licences that may be relevant for your brick and mortar store in New Zealand.

What Is a Licence?

A licence is a certification that a specific authority grants so that your business can operate in a certain way. Usually, licences are relevant and necessary for businesses in specific industries that require regulation. A business will have to meet certain requirements before obtaining a licence. Additionally, on many occasions, a representative of the specific authority will visit your business. 

Below we outline common licences that may be relevant for your brick and mortar store in New Zealand. 

Liquor Licence

The most common licence that businesses will apply for is a liquor licence. A liquor licence allows a business to serve alcohol to its customers. There are four types of liquor licences, outlined in the table below.

Licence Description
On-Licence An on-licence allows a business to sell alcohol to its consumers as long as they drink it on the premises. Generally, most pubs or restaurants will have an on-licence.
Off-Licence An off-licence is a type of business where a person must take the alcoholic beverage away from the establishment before consuming it. For example, liquor stores must apply for these types of licences.
Club Licence A club licence is a licence for a social club and allows the business to serve alcohol to members or guests.
Special Licence A special licence is a one-off licence that an organisation can apply for to serve alcohol for events like festivals.

Pawnbroker’s Licence

A pawnbroker is a business that lends money to people with personal items used as collateral. They are popular as they allow people to receive quick cash. Consumers can bring personal items into the pawnshop. Next, the pawnbroker will value the item and determine how much they can lend you. If you are a pawnbroker, you must have a pawnbroker’s licence. 

The same licencing authority also licences second-hand dealers. You must get a second-hand dealer’s licence if you buy or sell second-hand goods for at least six days a year. In addition, businesses that earn at least $2000 a year from selling second-hand goods must also obtain a second-hander dealer’s licence. 

Private Security Personnel 

Another type of licence that your business might have to obtain is a private security personnel licence. If you provide security services, then you must obtain this licence. Security services cover a broad range of activities, including:

  • crowd controllers;
  • personal security guards;
  • property security; and
  • private investigators.

If you are a business engaging in any of these services, you must hold a licence for each class of service you provide. For example, suppose you are an electrician providing advice and installing a security system. In that case, you obtain the relevant licence. However, if you are merely installing the system without promoting it yourself, you do not need this licence. 

Each of your employees must also hold the relevant licence for the type of work they are undertaking. These licences must be clearly displayed when your employees are working so that members of the public can identify them at all times. 

Food Safety

If your business is serving food, then you must register a verified food plan. This plan details how you handle food and how you can keep your customers safe. Your local authority or an independent agency can verify this food plan. Depending on the authority you register your food plan with, you may need to renew this plan as often as every three months.

Key Takeaways

When opening a brick and mortar store in New Zealand, ensure that you have the appropriate licences to operate. Licences are generally needed in industries where customer safety is at the forefront. They show consumers and the relevant authority that you can safely handle the product or service you are providing. If you are caught operating without an appropriate licence, you risk receiving a fine or the closure of your business. 

For legal assistance with obtaining licences for your brick and mortar store, contact LegalVision’s regulatory and compliance lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a licence to open a regular business?

No, you can open a business as a sole trader without a licence. However, you are still required to register with the relevant tax authority.

What happens if I do not apply for the relevant licence?

If you are caught operating without an appropriate licence, you risk receiving a fine or the closure of your business. The specific penalties will depend on the type of license you breached.

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