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How to get an Alcohol Licence in England & Wales

Running a business that sells alcohol requires responsibility and compliance with the law. Steep fines can be imposed without the proper licences, or even the risk of losing your business. To ensure you're compliant with the law, you'll need to obtain an alcohol licence.


To sell alcohol, you need to satisfy three requirements under the Licensing Act 2003:

  1. Any premises undertaking licensed activities must have a premises licence.

  2. Any premises must have a designated premises supervisor (DPS).

  3. Any premises must have a DPS who holds a personal licence.


Navigating the licensing process can be complex and confusing without professional help. This article, will take you through what a premises licence authorises, why professional help can make things easier, the costs and why conditions are important.


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What Does a Premises Licence Authorise?

A premises licence allows you to sell alcohol from your business location. This includes bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and shops. It is a legal requirement to sell alcohol and failure to do so will put you at risk of penalties.


The premises licence is not only required for alcohol sales but also for late-night refreshments, regulated entertainment, and the provision of hot food and drinks between 11 pm and 5 am.


When applying for a premises licence, you'll need to provide information about your business. This includes the location, operating hours, a detailed plan of the premises and the specific activities you intend to carry out, such as delivery. Once granted, it's essential to follow the conditions in the licence.


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Why Professional Help is Advised

The process of applying for a premises licence can be daunting, and professional help is recommended. There are many websites offering services to help with applications, qualifications for personal licences and consultation. Experts with years of experience in licensing can help with the complex legal requirements and forms needed to apply for a licence. Not only that, but experts can also give you advice on how to present your application most effectively, ensuring it stands the best chance of being approved.


Some expert services include help for the personal licence too. Offering a full process with training, testing and application to your local authority.


It's worth noting that a rejected application for an alcohol licence can be costly. Not only will you have to pay for the application fee again, but there will also be additional costs for re-applying. In the worst-case scenario, your business may face penalties, so seeking professional help is always advised.


It is difficult to recommend one particular expert as it is not a one size fits all task. You may find a local company fits your needs best, so the recommendation is to do a little research to find a service that suits you. It is also possible to do all the steps on your own if you are comfortable and confident in doing so.


What Are the Costs Involved In Obtaining a Premises Licence To Sell Alcohol?

The cost of an alcohol licence varies. Depending on the type of licence, the location, and the duration. The application fee can range from £100 to £1,905 depending on the rateable value of the premises and the type of licence applied for.


There are also costs for renewing the licence, making changes, and annual fees. On top of the application fees, there are also costs for professional help if you require it.


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Why Conditions on a Premises Licence are Important to a Business

Conditions on a licence are critical to a business. They set out requirements that must be followed. Failure to follow them can impact your licence, leading to penalties and even forfeit the licence. Licence conditions include restrictions on the hours of operation, the sale of alcohol to minors, and noise levels.


It is important to get these right to allow you to do what you intend to do. For example a condition on the license can affect the ability to offer delivery. Also adding conditions to rule out activities you do not require could make it easier to obtain your license.


To get started here is the official government website, with all of their guidance and regulation.


Please note other devolved countries have different laws and regulations.



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