Alcohol Licence Law Delivery of alcohol

Published on February 7th, 2013 | by Dean Carr


Delivery of Alcohol

Alcohol Delivery

Plans for the delivery of alcohol always raise licensing questions. Sure, the sale of alcohol by retail is licensable, but what about storage or delivery? What licences are involved? And what about wholesale?

We take a look at some of these questions below. If you still have questions, we would recommend any of the following:
• Read our guide to selling alcohol online or by mail order
• Call our sponsors, PLT (training and consultancy) on 0845 388 5472 for advice
• Contact your the licensing authority at your local council
• Leave us a comment at the bottom

The supply process

The process of supplying alcohol to a customer can be summarised as a point of sale –over a counter, by mail or online – followed by dispatch from a point of storage and finally the handover to the customer. In a shop, this process is very condensed: alcohol is stored on shelves, and everything else takes place at the till. For distance trading (via a website, for example) or bulk orders, the supply process is strung out. Alcohol is dispatched from a supplier warehouse, but may be stored again, several times, by the delivery firm. This is significant for delivery firms.

Licensable points

A licence is not required if alcohol is delivered directly from a licensed business to a front door. If the alcohol is stored during delivery, however, the process becomes licensable- the point of storage and dispatch must be covered by a premises licence. This is a crucial distinction for delivery businesses.


A business is extremely unlikely to be granted a premises licence if the alcohol is stored in a residential premises- i.e. in the garage. This kind of storage is viewed by licensing authorities and police licensing officers as a serious target for crime. Instead, commercial alcohol should be stored in a secure lockup, warehouse or similar.


A child (person under the age of 18) can legally accept home delivery on behalf of the customer, and sign for the order. Nevertheless, the delivery driver retains the legal right to refuse to hand over alcohol to a child if he or she suspects that the customer is in fact a minor or the child intends to consume the alcohol. This is a policy reliant on judgement and common sense: if the child is already drinking alcohol or a predominantly under-18s house party is in full swing, common sense would dictate that the trust of the retailer is likely to have been abused.

The protection of children from harm is one of the four licensing objectives that licensed traders must adhere to.


Wholesale of alcohol is business to business sale, typically from a supplier to a retailer. To give an example, the supply of alcohol from a specialist online firm to a local shop would be classed as wholesale. Wholesale businesses and wholesale delivery businesses do not require licences (either premises licence or personal licence), although they must be certain not to engage in the retail sale of alcohol.

By contrast, the retail of alcohol is a business to customer sale, over the counter or over distance. The retail of alcohol is a licensable activity, requiring a premises licence and personal licences.

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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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