Personal licence holder

Applying for your personal licence

Quite a lot has changed in alcohol licensing over the past decade. This article will run through a few brief essentials, and then guide you through each step of applying for your personal licence.

What is a Personal Licence?

A personal licence is issued and named to an individual- like a driving licence, it cannot be passed around and shared. The licence is valid for ten years, and can be renewed for a further ten year periods. A personal licence allows an individual to authorise the retail sale of alcohol within a licensed premises (licensed under a premises licence). The personal licence takes the physical form of a licence card and a supporting document.

The Licensing Act 2003

Firstly, a quick note of the cause of most of this change: the Licensing Act 2003. This new act came into force in 2005, with major amendments made as recently as April and October 2012. The good news is that the new act has condensed licensing legislation, making applyign for your personal licence a lot simpler. Only two types of alcohol licence remain: the personal licence and the premises licence.

Licensing Authorities:

Your local licensing authority deals with almost all licensing matters in your area. A personal licence application is made to your licensing authority, who then issues your licence. Not so long ago, licence applications were made to Magistrates’ Courts- under the new act, their role is limited to certain types of licence appeals.


Application Steps

Step 1: The licensing qualification

To hold a personal licence, you are required by law to undertake a licensing law course and sit a licensing examination. You will need to send off this certificate with your personal licence application paperwork.

In England & Wales, this licensing qualification is known as the Award for Personal Licence Holders (APLH) Level 2, in Scotland, the Scottish Certificate for Personal Licence Holders (SCPLH) Level 5. Both have replaced the old qualification, the National Certificate for Personal Licence Holders (NCPLH) Level 2, although training courses may still be advertised as such.

Step 2: Completing an application

To apply for a personal licence, you must:

  • Complete an application form.
  • Have two passport sized photographs verified by a professional
  • Send off for a CRB basic disclosure check (£25.00 fee)
  • Prepare the application fee (£37.00)

The CRB process is designed to check if you have any relevant offences- convictions relevant to the Licensing Act 2003. For more information, read our guide to relevant offences.

If you have committed a relevant offence, it is vital that you inform your licensing authority during the application procedure, as it is a criminal offence to conceal a relevant offence.

Step 3: Sending off your application

Your completed application form should be sent to your local licensing authority, together with your APLH/SCPLH qualification certificate, completed application form, two photographs, CRB basic disclosure and application fee.

What about Scotland?

The Scottish have a separate licensing act: the Licensing Act (Scotland) 2005. A Scottish personal licence is separate to a personal licence issued in England or Wales. A Scottish personal licence only covers sale of alcohol in Scotland; a personal licence issued in England or Wales only covers the sale of alcohol in England and Wales. For applicants living close to the England/Scotland border, it is well worth considering where you intent to work before applying for a licence, or applying for both licences.

We wish you the very best of luck in applying for your personal licence. For training courses and application assistance, we recommend Personal Licence Training.


You can call our FREE ADVICE LINE for help and advice on any alcohol licensing issues during normal office hours: 01242 222188

67 Responses to Applying for your personal licence

  1. Dean Carr Dean Carr says:

    Hi Mario this is not the first time I have heard of this problem. You may need to look firstly at the terms and conditions of the training provider that provided your personal licence training course as this may help you resolve your issue. Personal Licence Training (UK) Ltd have this written in their T&C’s (shown below) which clearly states the personal licence and original certificate are the property of the candidate and not the employer regardless of who paid for them. However you may of signed a contractual agreement with your employer regarding the cost of training and licence application fees should you leave their employment during a certain time frame. This may make you liable for any costs, you will need to check this.

    Licence holder rights and paying for an employee’s personal licence:
    Some Employers may pay for their employee’s personal licence training course and examination, and/or the processing of an individual employee’s personal licence. This is a contractual arrangement between the Employer and the Employee. Under the Licensing Act 2003 a personal licence issued by a licensing authority is personal to the individual named on the licence, regardless of whether or not the employer paid for the training and/or licence application. Awarding Bodies that process certificates of training will adopt the same policy as licensing authorities. The personal licence and the certificate of training are the property of the employee to whom they are named. Any disputes arising after the issue of the personal licence and/or the certificate are a civil matter and are not the responsibility of Personal Licence Training (UK) Ltd.

    I hope this helps
    Regards Dean

  2. Mario says:

    I complete my Personal License in 2015 at the company where I work , the company paid the course for us to receive the certificate, the license! I am still working in the company but my HR Manager have the certificate and doesn’t want to give it to me , because the course was paid by the company? I was given a photocopy. As far as I know , they should keep the photocopy and hand me the original , so I can claim my license. My question is, Is this legal what my HR is doing ?
    Many thanks

  3. Dean Carr Dean Carr says:

    Hi Sophie, On 1 April 2011, the Award for Personal Licence Holders (APLH) level 2 came into force as the mandatory qualification for personal licence applicants and replaced the old NCPLH licensing qualification. Therefore the qualification should be acceptable, however there have been significant changes to the licensing Act since you undertook your training in 2013. You may want to consider purchasing an up to date level 2 course handbook from BIIAB or similar awarding body to bring you up to speed or undertake re-training. I would also advise you to speak to your local council’ licensing team to check they are happy with a certificate that is 5 years old.

    Regards Dean

  4. Sophie says:

    Sorry I have a BIIAB Level 2 Award for Personal Licence Holders is this still valid? Can I still get my personal licence?

  5. Sophie says:

    Hi I took and passed my award for personal licence holders (APLH) Level 2 in 2013. Is this award/certificate still valid for me to apply for my personal licence?

  6. Dean Carr Dean Carr says:

    Hi Lucy Marshal a drink driving conviction is a relevant offence under the licensing Act 2003 for England & Wales. Unfortunately I do not know all the facts regarding your partners licence, therefore I am unable to make any comments.

  7. Lucy marshal says:

    Hi. My partner was convicted on drink drinking a few months ago, then our company gave us a pub to manage. He sent off his application to become DPS my company said that this was declined. We didn’t hear this information from anyone else. Now his premises licences have come through the post with a letter from the solicitors saying that his application for dps has been accepted and has been changed to him? Does this mean that our company lied to us about saying that his application had been declined?

  8. Dean Carr Dean Carr says:

    Hi Ricardo, contact the training provider you used for your training course, they should be able to help you!

  9. Dean Carr Dean Carr says:

    Hello Denise, unfortunately a drink drive conviction is a relevant offence under the licensing Act 2003. When applying for a personal alcohol licence you will need to submit an up to date basic DBS criminal records check with your application. This will show your conviction. A drink drive conviction will stay on you DBS check for 5 years from date of conviction. The Police will raise an objection to your application, however it may be worth you speaking to your local Police Licensing Officer if you have done any rehabilitation courses as they may take this into account. You also have the right to a hearing before the Councils Licensing Committee to state your case should the Police make an objection to your licence. Hope this helps!

  10. Denise tarner says:

    I would like to go for my personnel license I was convicted of a drunk driving offence 3yrs ago but it wasn’t straight forward I was arrested at home and only just blew over limit . However I wasn’t over the limit when I git home I started to drink when I arrived home and someone reported me for drink driving I rang the police myself after an assault by my ex partner

  11. Dean Carr Dean Carr says:

    Hi Jane a transferable DBS check can not be used with a new personal licence application. You have to submit a Basic disclosure dated within 28 days of the council receiving the application.

  12. Jane says:

    Hi I am sitting my personal license course on Tuesday, however I am applying for my license seperately, I hold a transferable dbs which is on the update service which I pay £13 a year for, will this be sufficient to send a copy of this , when I send my paperwork in for my license

  13. Ricardo says:

    I have passed the assessment and received my certificate for SCPLH at SCQF Level 6, the only problem is that i have received my certificate with my name incorrect. It says “Richardo” instead of “Ricardo”. What and where can i do to change this?

    Also, how much does it cost to get my Personal License after i already have my certificate?

    Thanks in advance

  14. Dean Carr Dean Carr says:

    Best to check with your local licensing authority, they will advise.

    Regards Admin team

  15. Dean Carr Dean Carr says:

    Your licence qualification will be fine, just be aware the basic DBS checks are only valid for 28 days. You will also with new legislation need to prove you have the right to live and work in the UK. A copy of your Passport is generally OK.

    Regards Dean Admin team

  16. Dean Carr Dean Carr says:

    You need to hold an APLH level 2 licensing qualification for England and Wales. Ask your local Council for an application form, which will come with instructions.

    Regards Admin Team 🙂

  17. gail says:

    i sat the exam for a personal licence in 2010 and passed but i did not send off for the license and i now need a licence for a new job what do i have to do to get it

  18. Morgan says:


    I have passed my personal licence course around 2 months ago.

    I am yet to send off the Disclosure form, as I haven’t got round to filling it out and frankly forgot about it until I stumbled on it the other day. Is there a time period or a window between passing the course and sending off the Disclosure check?

    I don’t want to waste money sending off the form for my Disclosure check if it’s too late!

    Thanks in advance. Morgan.

  19. Leanne says:


    I sat my exam 3/4 years ago and passed. I never sent of for the personal license. Will I still be able to or will I need to resit the exam?


  20. Dean Carr Dean Carr says:

    The passport office says a licensee can sign a passort. I understand this to mean an acting licensee not a former landlord or publican. The BII National Licensee’s Certificate is no longer a valid qualification as it has been replaced by the APLH level 2 Award for personal licence holders.

  21. Dean Carr Dean Carr says:

    Hi Mike APLH or SCPLH certificates normally take around 10 working days on average, there is no time limit on a certificate as they are valid indefinitely unless the qualification changes. DBS certificates on the other hand are only valid for 28 days so make sure you work out your time scale when applying for a licence.

  22. Dean Carr Dean Carr says:

    Hi Ricardo your APLH level 2 certificate is still valid and will be acceptable to all Licensing Authorities.

  23. Ricardo Calado says:

    Hello. I’ve done my APLH in 2012 while I was working in a pub. But never actually applied for a licence myself. Iam now opening a business where iam planning to sell alcohol. Does the APLH still valid and I need to make the application form with this or do I need to do a new APLH course? Thanks

  24. Mike says:

    Hi, I’ve recently completed the training course to get my personal licence but the training company have been slow returning my certificate, is there a time limit between getting the certificate and applying for the licence.

    Many thanks,

  25. T Cuffaro says:

    Please could you advise, I obtained the ‘National Licensee’s Certificate’ in October 2000. Does this have an expiry date, as I have not used it for some years now?

    Would this certificate still allow me to sign photos for passport applications?

    Thank you

  26. Dean Carr Dean Carr says:

    Hi Suraj a personal licence granted in England & Wales is now valid forever. If you speak to your local council’s licensing authority they will advise you on what to do with a personal licence that has expired or is due to expire. A personal licence granted in England & Wales is only valid in England or Wales, so this would be no use to you abroad. A Scottish personal licence is only valid in Scotland and duration of a Scottish licence is still 10 years with a need to undertake refresher training every five years.

    I hope this helps!

    Regards Dean Carr

  27. Dean Carr Dean Carr says:

    Hi Sohail the best thing to do is contact the licensing authority at your local council and ask for a personal licence application form. Every application comes explanatory notes on how to complete an application and what documents are required. You should also be able to find this information on your local coucil’s website, generally under “personal licence” or “alcohol licensing”

    Hope this helps Sohail.

  28. sohail says:

    wat documents do i need to apply for ALPH full licence package.thnx

  29. Suraj says:

    Hi there, I was looking to get a personal bar licence so I can cover for my uncle at his pub when he goes on holiday. Has there been an update about the licencing validity or is it still 10 years, I heard it was going to be auto renewed? Also I was thinking of going travelling soon, does the licence hold up abroad?

  30. Dean Carr Dean Carr says:

    Hi Nichola, it is ideal to send off for your personal alcohol licence as soon as you have received your BII certificate and your basic DBS check certificate back. You need to be aware that a basic DBS/CRB check is only valid for 28 days. So if this is not in date your licence application will be rejected.

    Hope this helps

  31. Nichola King says:

    How long after I pass the test do I have before I need to send away for the actual license??

  32. Hi Leanne,

    Obtaining a personal licence depends a lot on your personal circumstances, and rules that are far too involved to be covered here. Can I suggest you contact the experts at Personal Licence Training ltd on 0845 388 9581 (local rate call) or visit their website

  33. Leanne hope says:

    I would like info regarding how to obtain my personal license

  34. jen says:

    Can you please give me details on what I need to do to obtain a license. I wanna start an alcohol delivery service.

  35. Mark says:

    Hi Kylie,

    Take a look at our Selling Alcohol guide. The pub will probably already have a premises licence- this can be transferred into your name. A member of staff will need to apply for a personal licence to authorise the sale the alcohol and be named as the Designated Premises Supervisor. Our sponsors, Personal Licence Training, provide training courses and an application service.

  36. Kylie says:

    Hi I’m looking for abit of help. I’m interested in going in to running a pub. What licences would I need to get to do this??

  37. Mark says:

    Hi Natasha,
    You can cover your event premises with a Temporary Event Notice (TEN)- see the article link below. You can make your TEN application to your local licensing board within your local council- the application fee is £21.
    The sale of alcohol at the event must be made or overseen by a personal licence holder. Ideally, there may be a licence holder within the community willing to step in. Alternatively, you could hire someone for the event.
    The good news is that selling wine by the glass can be very successful and profitable for fund raisers. Best of luck with your event!

  38. Natasha Hughes says:

    Forgot to say, we are in Scotland.

  39. Natasha Hughes says:

    We are planning a pamper evening to raise money for our Twin Club. it will probably be in a community hall. Is there a licence we need if we were to sell wine by the glass?

  40. sara baker says:

    Thankyou very much for recommending Personal licence Training Ltd to me, i now have my Personal Licence and it was so simple, from the first phone call to my exam the staff were really helpful, i was sent a book to study at home and attended a one day training course and took my exam at the end of it. They dealt with all the paperwork and checks for me. Once again thankyou and a big thanks to them for making things so easy.

  41. admin says:

    Hi Matt thanks for your question.
    At this current time the BIIAB Level 2 Award for Personal Licence Holders qualification is still valid, however you will need to apply to the local council’s licensing authority where you are currently living. Once granted your personal alcohol licence will then be valid for 10 years and you can use it anywhere in England and Wales. Your personal licence will allow you to sell or authorise others to sell alcohol and also become the (DPS) designated premises supervisor.

    Take a look at our post APPLYING FOR YOUR PERSONAL LICENCE

    Good luck regards the licensing team. p.s. If you prefer PLT can process your CRB check and licence application on your behalf. You can contact them on 01527 544780

  42. Matt says:

    I gained my BIIAB Level 2 Award for Personal Licence Holders certificate in March of last year, however I have moved aorund the country and not yet applied for my personal licence, does the qualification expire after a certain time?

  43. Mark says:

    Under the new system (Licensing Act 2003), every retail sale of alcohol has to made or overseen by a personal licence holder. If you’re working alongside a personal licence holder, you won’t require a licence to sell alcohol. If you’ll be the only licence holder in the shop during some periods, you’ll need a personal licence. Essentially, it’s the responsibility of the owner/manager to look at the staff rota and make that decision.

    The Scottish personal licence is a separate licence to that of England and Wales. Every licence applicant must gain a licensing qualification- in Scotland, the Scottish Certificate for Personal Licence Holders (SCPLH) level 5. From there, you can apply for a personal licence to your local licensing board. We recommend Personal Licence Training Ltd as a training provider. They offer a training venue in Glasgow (linked below) and can also process your licence application:

  44. sie says:

    I am looking to work in a small grocers/offsales. It has been a while since my last job in offsales and I know the law has now changed to sell alcohol. What certificate or licence do I need, Where in Glasgow could i do the training? how much will it cost and how long is the course for? Do I have to apply for certificate before I start work? please advise. Thankyou.

  45. Mark says:

    Hi Ted,

    These sales would need to be licensed, even if the value of the product is primarily artistic. The champagne within the bottles means that the sale would be classed as the sale of alcohol by retail, a licensable activity under the Licensing Act 2003. Therefore, you would require a personal licence and a Temporary Event Notice (a temporary version of the premises licence).

    If you were to sell the crafted bottles with no alcohol inside, you would not need a licence.

  46. Ted says:

    I would like to sell 5 hand crafted champagne bottles in car boots. Do I need a licence for that as I would be selling art not alcohol, champagne 12%.

  47. admin says:

    Hi Troy once you have passed your APLH exam and you pay £295 for Personal Licence Training Limited to process your full licence for you. The local council’s Licensing Authority Have to grant the personal licence. If your CRB check shows a relevant offence then the application is determined by the Police. to help you pass your exam try the PLT online quiz

  48. admin says:

    Hi Troy thanks for your question! The only person who can object to the grant of a personal licence to sell alcohol is the Chief Officer of Police. The Police will only raise an objection to your personal licence if your basic CRB check shows a relevant offence under schedule 4 of the Licensing Act 2003. Disclosure Scotland who produce your CRB certificate require evidence of your place of residence so you can use various items for this such as;
    A provisional or full driving licence
    A utility bill, gas, elcetric, phone bill etc
    Not having a bank account or not being in full time work will hinder your application. However the benefit to having a personal licence is that to a potential employer you are more employable because you can sell or authorise sales of alcohol and you can also be named on a premises licence as the Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) effectively the licensee.
    If your looking to obtain a personal licence speak to

  49. Troy says:

    If you do well on the training course and pass the exam and a crb check etc, will the local authority definitely accept the application? If so, I would like to get the £295 course and personal license application package. Please can you help? Thank You

  50. troy says:

    i am currently a barman in a nightclub and have worked in 12 pubs/clubs altogether. started glass collecting at the age of 17 where my mother worked and got shown how to change barrels etc then turned 18 and went straight onto the bar in a busy nightclub… over the years ive gained alot of experience but most of the bars i have worked in have been privately owned so i havent had much of a chance to move up the ladder but have wanted to for ages. if i was to fork out £295 and get the training and application package what are the chances my application to the local authority being declined. bearing in mind i havent currently got a bank account and am not in contracted work. although i will definitely pass a crb check as have no criminal convictions. please help

  51. admin says:

    Hi Katie thanks for your enquire, because you are looking to attract 1,000 people this would not be classed as a Temporary Event Notice as they are for under 500 people only. Therefore you would require a premise licence. We would advise you to speak to the local council’s Licensing Authority where the event is to be situated.
    We hope this helps
    Regards Admin Team

  52. Katie says:


    I am in the process of planning an outdoor arts festival and would like to play music throughout the four days. The event is in playing fields. Do I need a music license? If so would it be a premises or personal license?
    I am hoping to attract around 1000 people.

    Roughly how much would the license cost for four days 9am-5pm

  53. admin says:

    Hello David,

    Selling alcohol form your own home can be difficult as you will require a premises licence to permit you to so! The first hurdle is a premises licence application is based on the rateable value of your intended business premises. Secondly it is a requirement by law to advertise your application in the local news paper and by way of blue public notice for a period of 28 days at the intended address where the licensing activities are to take place.
    Local residents who are known as interested parties can object to the grant of the application.
    Have a look at some more articles on this website “Selling alcohol from Home”

  54. Jeremy says:

    Hi David,

    There are actually 2 licences required to sell alcohol……

    A personal licence (APLH in England and Wales, SCPLH in Scotland) which allows you to sell alcohol. To store and sell alcohol from your home you would also need a premises licence. If you want to sell wine directly to the public (as opposed to online) I think that this would be difficult in your case as your neighbours and the local police would have to agree to allow you to do this.

    For more information contact your local licensing team, which will be based at your local council.

  55. David Clark says:

    Does the licence permit sale of alcohol to people in their own homes i.e wines ?

  56. admin says:

    Sorry, but if you have left the premises and let your personal licence certificate lapse, then you will have to apply for a new one. The Grandfather rule was brought in so that managers passing over their premises to a new owner could carry on trading. Not sure why it was called the Grandfather rule….Does anybody else know?

  57. Tasha says:

    Hello do the grandfather rights still stand from when they brought the personal licences in? As i have the BIIABlevel 2 National Certificate for Licencees as i am looking into going back into pubs. thank you

  58. andy taylor says:

    hi there,
    i am the sales manager for a well known soft drinks delivery service in cumbria. we are constantly getting requests for beers and wines and wondered what licences the company would have to get to deliver. we only operate in the daytimes mostly between 4pm and 8 pm on a weekly delivery to towns and villages in the area and are looking to expand our products.i hope you can advise us,
    andy taylor

  59. Dean says:

    I have two questions;
    1) Do you need a licence to sell alcohol as a wholesaler. For example, purchase beer/cider in keg format from the producer and sell it to pubs or clubs for them to sell to the public?
    2) What licence and qualifications would be needed to be able to sell alcohol at an ‘outside bar’. For example a temporary bar at a Fete, Beer festival, BBQ, etc.?

  60. I am opening a small tea room for private Vintage Tea Parties and want to offer BYOB Do I need a permit as customers will be offered the choice to bring in their own bubbly ?


  61. admin says:

    Just to add a comment the NCPLH personal licence holders qualification is now to be known as the APLH Award for personal licence holders. The change came in to force on the 1st of April 2011, we understand the awarding bodies for this licensing qualification are to remain the same. These included NCFE, EDI, BIIAB.

  62. Jo Taylor says:

    Your research has informed you correctly. You will need both a premises licence and a personal licence to retail alcohol. With regards to the qualification you will need to hold for your personal licence, it does not necessarily have to be GQAL accredited. GQAL are only the awarding body and there are other that are nationally recognised. I would be able to advise you more accordingly once you know the nature of your business. Your age and financial backing are not always going to go against you, but again, this will be dependent on the type of business you wish to run. Once you have done more research you can contact the licensing consultants at Personal Licence Training Ltd and they will be able to offer you advice on your venture and any training you may require for it.

  63. Jo Taylor says:

    I understand your predicament in this situation. With regards to your convictions, they are both relevant offences under the Licensing Act 2003. It will depend on when you were convicted of them and the penalty/sentence you received for each offence. As you are not the only Director for the company, it may pay you to put a business partner through the personal licence for the time being. Whilst the responsible authorities do understand that people deserve to have a second chance, it will be dependent on when the offences were committed. With regards to the premises licence, the Police may want to speak with you as the applicant to talk about your intentions for the business and may bring up your convictions. However, as you will not be the person responsible for the authorisation of the sale of alcohol by retail, this shouldn’t have too much bearing on the matter. This is NOT a definitive answer as each Police force is different. If you want more advice, you can call Personal Licence Training Ltd and they will be able to discuss your case with you and advise you accordingly. They have many useful contacts and may be able to speak to the authorities on your behalf and find out if this is a viable venture for you.

  64. Jo Taylor says:

    BIIAB are only an awarding body for the accreditation required for the personal licence. There are several other awarding bodies that are QCA approved and nationally recognised. A list of them can be found at the DCMS website.

  65. Noel Wheeler says:

    Does an alcohol licence need to be BIIAB approved?

  66. Jamie Stewart says:

    First things first… I’m 20 years old and I have registered a limited company to find premises and trade as a convenience store. The thing is I would be looking to apply for an alcohol licence and about 35% of my expected turnover would be alcohol. Plus the franchise/symbol group I am applying to would also want me to have an alcohol licence and I could really be doing with their support – especially being a new business.I’ve had more than 2 years required experience needed by the licencing boards but the main problem is I have a drink driving conviction and also a suspended sentence for fraud. Which are very relevant offences. I realise I’m not painting a very good picture of myself here but I do believe everyone makes mistakes – some bigger than others, and I have well and truely learnt my lesson.
    I am not the only director of my company but from what I’ve been told from the licencing board they will do a search on all directors for the company anyway.
    I was just wondering if you guys knew any way to get round this?

  67. Tessa Silver says:

    What licenses and/or certificates do you have to obtain to hold and supply alcohol?
    I have done some research and it seems these are a must:
    Premises License
    Personal License
    GQAL Level 2 National Certificate for Personal Licence Holders
    I am sure there are other licenses needed and I will continue to browse the web and get free advice where possible.
    Of course being only 20 and not having much financial backing I can’t seek professional advice.
    I won’t go into what sort of business this is as it hasn’t actually ever been used yet in my hours of research on the web.
    My business idea isn’t any of the following:
    Owning an off-license, on-license, club/bar/pub etc.

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