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Alcohol licensing

Businesses, organisations and individuals who want to sell or supply alcohol must have a licence. 

Businesses that might need a licence

The types of businesses and organisations that need alcohol licences might include:

  • pubs and bars
  • cinemas
  • theatres
  • nightclubs
  • late-opening cafes
  • takeaways
  • village and community halls
  • supermarkets

Types of licences

The types of licences required are defined as follows:

  • any business or other organisation that sells or supplies alcohol on a permanent basis needs to apply for a premises licence
  • anyone who plans to sell or supply alcohol or authorise the sale or supply of alcohol must apply for a personal licence
  • qualifying members’ clubs (such as the Royal British Legion, working men’s clubs and rugby clubs) need to apply for a club premises certificate if they plan to sell or supply alcohol

Licensable activities

All businesses and organisations that undertake licensable activities on a permanent basis must have a premises licence or club premises certificate from their local authority.

Sale or supply of alcohol

The sale by retail of alcohol and the supply of alcohol by or on behalf of a club are both licensable activities.

Regulated entertainment

Regulated entertainment is broadly defined as any entertainment that takes place in the presence of an audience (whether members of the public or a club), or otherwise for profit, and the premises have the purpose of providing the entertaining concerned. This could be:

  • a performance of a play
  • an exhibition of a film
  • an indoor sporting event
  • a boxing or wrestling entertainment
  • a performance of live music
  • playing of recorded music
  • a performance of dance

Read more about when you need approval to put on certain types of regulated entertainment.

Late night refreshment

Late night refreshment is the sale of hot food or drink to the public to consume off or on the premises) between 11pm and 5am. For further information, see Schedule 2 to the Licensing Act 2003.

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