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In the current business climate, liquor delivery businesses are finding more and more success with consumers. However, this is a highly regulated industry, and you do take on some risk when delivering alcohol to customers. Therefore, to best protect your liquor delivery business and its interests, you need to take care when developing your business model. As a part of this, you need to comply with the various regulations surrounding selling alcohol and starting a business in general. Therefore, this article will explain how you can start a liquor delivery business in New Zealand.

Starting Your Business

An important part of the startup process is planning, both around how you will implement your business model and structure the business itself. The three most popular business structures in New Zealand are:

  • sole traders;
  • partnerships; and
  • companies.

Not only that, but you need to plan what aspects of the selling and delivery process your business will be responsible for. This planning then determines what services you may not be able to offer and what you may need to contract other businesses for. 

Such services/processes include:

  • sourcing or manufacturing the alcohol;
  • storing the alcohol;
  • facilitating customer orders; and
  • delivering to customers.

For example, you may contract with existing liquor stores to source the alcohol, but customers place liquor orders through your app, and your drivers deliver to their door. Alternatively, you may run your own brewery, but your staff deliver your beer to customers for special orders.

Determine Your Liquor Licence

In New Zealand, to sell alcohol to customers, you need to have a liquor licence. Therefore, if your business handles the sale of alcohol, then you need to have a valid and current liquor licence.

There are four kinds of liquor licences in New Zealand. These are:

  • on-licences;
  • off-licences;
  • club licences; and
  • special licences.

If you are selling alcohol for consumption on-premise, you will need an on-licence. However, as an alcohol delivery business, you will likely need an off-licence as a remote seller. This certification is for businesses that sell alcohol that customers will consume off-premise, such as bottle stores or wineries. 

Apply For Your Liquor Licence

Your local council will handle liquor licence approvals, so you need to go through their application process to get one. They will consider the merits of your application, and your District Licensing Committee may also evaluate your licence application based on how your liquor delivery business will impact the community. Additionally, affected community members will also get their chance to have a say in whether your business should legally be able to operate in their neighbourhood. You will need to be able to prove you can meet your legal duties as a responsible alcohol seller and show that you can implement measures that reduce alcohol-related harm.

Comply With Your Liquor Licence Conditions

Once you have a valid liquor licence, you can legally start selling alcohol through your liquor delivery business. However, you need to do so while complying with your licence conditions. If you only sell alcohol remotely, you must:

  • deliver the alcohol you sell to somewhere else;
  • have a clearly legible image of your licence on your website;
  • display your licence number, expiry date, and holder’s name in a prominent place on your website and receipts;
  • not provide free alcohol;
  • take reasonable steps to verify your buyers are over 18;
  • not encourage excessive consumption of alcohol;
  • not promote your liquor in a way that appeals to minors;
  • appoint a manager (but they do not have to be on duty at all times);
  • not promote or advertise discounts on alcohol greater than 25% off the original price; and 
  • comply with other requirements that may apply.

Reasonable steps for age verification depend on how you sell your alcohol. However, they will generally involve two declarations from the customer that they are over 18 at different stages of the buying process.

Delivering Safely

Since a key part of your business is delivery, you need to ensure you comply with the law’s requirements around delivering alcohol safely. While your customers may able to order alcohol from you at any time, you cannot deliver:

  • between 11 pm and 6 am;
  • before 1 pm on ANZAC day;
  • on Good Friday or Christmas day; and
  • on Easter Sunday, unless you meet a certain criteria.

Most importantly, it is illegal to sell alcohol to anyone who is intoxicated or to minors. Therefore, you should sufficiently train your drivers to ensure they meet these requirements to protect your business. For example, your delivery drivers can ask to see photo identification if the person they deliver to looks under 25.

Key Takeaways

Starting a liquor delivery business can be a successful venture for your startup. However, there are strict regulations that come with selling and delivering alcohol. Therefore, you need to ensure that you are set up appropriately to meet those regulations. If you would like more information or help with starting your liquor delivery business, contact LegalVision’s regulatory and compliance lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

When do I need a liquor licence?

If you wish to sell alcohol, then you need to have a valid liquor licence. The kind of licence you need will depend on how you are selling the alcohol.

How can I start a liquor delivery business?

The business startup process will involve developing an appropriate delivery model but also applying for the necessary liquor licence for your service. You will also need to implement measures for reducing any alcohol-related harm in your delivery.

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