Alcohol Licence Law beer-585166_1280

Published on September 6th, 2017 | by Dean Carr


Alcohol Sales Wholesale or Retail?

What you need to know about selling alcohol in England, Wales and Scotland

Retail sales of alcohol

If you intend to sell alcohol directly to the general public then this is classed as a retail sale, under the Licensing Act 2003 for England and Wales or the Scottish licensing Act 2005. A retail sale of alcohol is one which can be made over a bar in a public house or night club, to a table in a restaurant, over the counter in a shop or supermarket, under a temporary licence or a sale over the internet.
All retail sales of alcohol must be made under a premise licence or temporary licence such as, a Temporary Event Notice (TEN) or an Occasional licence in Scotland. Domestic premises can generally not be licensed as application fees are based on commercial premises and their rateable value. However some semi rural premises may of obtained a premises licence in the past but, relevant planning approval must be in place.

Scottish law on retailing alcohol also has several other conditions to beware of;

Selling by retail

The premises where the alcohol is sold or dispatched from will require a premises licence. A personal licence holder must be appointed as the acting Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) or in Scotland a Designated Premises Manager (DPM). Alcohol can not be sold without a DPS or DPM being named on the the premise licence.
In the case of sales of alcohol over the internet (online Sales) then the point of dispatch is where the sale is legally appropriated. This would generally be a warehouse or retail premises that is licensed for online sales.

Wholesale sales of alcohol

If you intend to sell alcohol to the licensed trade,then this is classed as (a wholesale transaction). The licensed trade could include shops, supermarkets, pubs, clubs and restaurants that hold a premise licence under Licensing Act 2003 for England and Wales or for licensed premises in Scotland the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005.

It is good practice for wholesalers of alcohol to keep a record of their licensed retailers and their premises licence number and issuing Authority, which will be a local Council. This will help show due diligence and avoid unauthorised sales of alcohol. Not all retailers of alcohol will hold a premises licence as some may operate their business using Temporary Event Notice’s (TEN) or an Occasional licence.

However event organisers or event companies should hold a personal licence and be able to provide evidence of their business via a letterhead or business card.
When you are looking to import alcohol into the United Kingdom then it will be subject to import duty (Tax). Take a look at our article on

What you need to know about importing alcohol to the UK“.

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About the Author

Dean Carr

Dean has been involved in alcohol licensing for over 20 years and has helped many independent retailers and corporate clients obtain a licence to sell alcohol or offer late night refreshment, regulated entertainment from all sorts of premises. Dean writes articles for various trade related blogs and is currently Managing Director of the PLT group of companies who run APLH and SCPLH personal alcohol licence courses nationwide. You can contact Dean or a member of his expert licensing team on: 01242 222 188

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