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Selling alcohol as part of your business can be a good source of income, and increase customer numbers. But if you want to sell alcohol, you need a liquor licence, and you need to comply with the legal requirements that are attached to that licence. If you do not have a licence, you run the risk of being fined. This article will outline which type of liquor licence you may need to apply for.

Hotels and Restaurants

If you own or run a hotel, restaurant, cafe or entertainment venue, you will need an on-licence. This is a licence which allows you to sell alcohol for people to drink on the premises.

When applying for an on-licence, the factors that you should consider include:

  • your suitability as an applicant. This includes whether you have sufficient industry knowledge or experience to run a licensed premises;
  • the days and hours that you intend to sell alcohol;
  • the design and layout of your premises, such as seating, access, lighting and ventilation; and
  • the impact on amenity and good order of the local area. For example, noise levels, vandalism and the number of other licensed premises nearby.

You must also ensure that you have appropriately trained staff and effective health and safety systems in place.

Bottle Stores

If you run a bottle store, grocery store or supermarket, you will need an off-licence. This allows people to purchase alcohol to take away and drink in another place. Under the off-licence, 15% of your sales can be from non-alcohol products, such as food and non-alcoholic drinks. Off-licences will not be issued for premises where the main business is to sell fuel for motor vehicles.

Similar to on-licenses, your application should take into account:

  • if you intend to provide services that are not related to the sale or supply of alcohol; and
  • your trading times.

The standard maximum trading hours are between 7 am and 11 pm for off-licenses, and between 8 am and 4 am the following day for on-licenses and club licenses. However, these can change depending on your local area’s alcohol policy.

Selling Alcohol Online

If you have an off-licence, you can sell alcohol remotely. This is beneficial if you intend to only sell over the internet and not at any premises as well. In that case, you may wish to apply for endorsement of your off-licence under section 40 of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012. This allows you to deliver the alcohol to somewhere different from your premises. 

You can make remote sales at any time and on any day, but delivery is prohibited between 11 pm and 6 am on:

  • Good Friday;
  • Easter Sunday;
    Christmas Day; or 
  • before 1 pm on Anzac Day.

You must take reasonable steps to verify that both the buyer and the receiver of any alcohol are aged 18 or over.

For example, you should ask the buyer to check a box to confirm that they are 18 or over when they first enter the site, then again immediately before the sale transaction. You must also not promote or advertise discounts on alcohol that leads people to believe that the price is 25% or more below its regular price. 

Clubs

Other businesses that will need to apply for a licence include:

  • sports clubs;
  • RSA; and 
  • working men’s clubs.

This licence allows its members and guests to consume alcohol on club premises. 

For on-licenses, off-licenses and club licenses, it can take up to ten weeks to find out whether your licence has been granted. Therefore, ensure you apply in plenty of time.

Special Events

If you are planning on hosting an arts or music festival or a sports event, you can apply for a special licence for your one-off event. Special licences can be either for consumption:

  • on the premises (on-site); or
  • consumption elsewhere (off-site).

You will need to submit your application at least 20 working days before the event. The district licensing committee (DLC) will determine whether you need to notify the public of your special licence application.

For example in a newspaper or as a notice on the premises.

 If it’s a large-scale event, the DLC may also ask you to provide an event management plan that sets out how you will deal with:

  • security;
  • health and safety; and
  • any local residents.

What is the Process?

Your DLC district licensing committee will review your application and make a decision. DLCs are set up as part of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 by local councils, although their decision-making is independent. Decisions on appeals and other enforcement matters are handled by the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority (ARLA).

Some areas will also have their own local alcohol policy about the sale and supply of alcohol which might:

  • limit the location of licensed premises in particular areas;
  • restrict or extend standard trading hours; and
  • impose ‘one-way door’ restrictions that require individuals to exit, but not enter, licensed premises during specified times.

Visit your council’s website to see if there is a local alcohol policy in your area.

How Do I Apply?

You will need to complete the relevant form from your council’s website and submit it, along with a fee, to your local authority. In some circumstances, your application might need to be heard at a DLC hearing. If your licence is not granted, you can appeal to the ARLA, which can reconsider the matter.

When Will I Need to Renew my Licence? 

An on-licence, off-licence, or club licence is granted for one year initially. You can then renew it every three years. Special licences are granted for the duration of the event. If you have recently bought premises that still have a current licence in place, you can apply for a temporary authority to allow you to use the existing licence for up to three months. During this time, you should make a new licence application.

Key Takeaways

There are a number of different liquor licenses for different activities. When setting up your business, it is essential to make sure that you have the correct licence in place before you sell or supply alcohol. If you have any questions about which liquor licence you need for your business, contact LegalVision’s regulatory and compliance lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

FAQs

Which liquor licence do hotels need?

If you own or run a hotel, restaurant, cafe or entertainment venue, you will need an on-licence. This is a licence which allows you to sell alcohol for people to drink on the premises.

Which liquor licence do bottle stores need?

If you run a bottle store, grocery store or supermarket, you will need an off-licence. This allows people to purchase alcohol to take away and drink in another place. 

Do you need a licence to sell alcohol online?

If you wish to only sell alcohol online and not on premises, you will need an off-licence. You may also wish to apply for endorsement of your off-licence under section 40 of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012. This allows you to deliver the alcohol to somewhere different from your premises. 

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