Alcohol Licence Law Licensing laws

Published on September 1st, 2010 | by Dean Carr


Do I need a licence to sell alcohol online?

Do I need a licence to sell alcohol online?

This article is a guide and not a full explanation of the alcohol licensing law in England and Wales. You can get full advice from the team at Personal Licence Training (UK) Ltd (Tel 01242 222188).

The short answer is yes; in fact you need a personal licence, and a premises licence to store the alcohol you intend to sell. The rules are exactly the same for selling alcohol by any other means :

Contact your local Council Licensing department and ask them for the appropiate forms. Most councils will have a pack they can send with information to help you through the process. You need:

• Application for a Premises Licence
• Consent of a Premises Supervisor
• Declaration
• Certificate of Posting of Public Notice and the Public Notices (Notice of Application for Grant of premises licence)

You will need at least one Personal Licence Holder, who must be over 18 and be responsible with no relevant convictions. They have to be licensed with the local council in the area they live in. If there is no Personal Licence holder (for example if they leave your employ) you cannot sell alcohol online, so choose someone permanent or a couple of people. Contact their local council for the application forms Disclosure of Convictions and Application for a Personal Licence.

The Personal Licence Holder will need an APLH certificate (formally NCPLH) for England, and Wales or a SCPLH certificate for Scotland – (find a local course here). The course also covers the application process – which is really helpful. There’s a multi-choice exam at the end and results available within a week. Re-sits can be done easily without re-sitting the whole course. You can contact Personal Licence Training (UK) Ltd for more information. An online mock exam can be found here.

You will also need Form DP1 available from the Police. You will get a certificate back which will confirm that you do or don’t have convictions. (Alternatively you can ask the nice people at Personal Licence Training (UK) Ltd to do this for you).

If you would like to talk to someone about applying for your personal licence or a premises licence application then we recommend you speak to the licensing team at Personal Licence Training who offer regular national training courses in England, Scotland and Wales.

They can be contacted on:

England & Wales Tel: 0845 388 5472   (local Rate Call)

Scotland Tel: 0844 330 7435  (local Rate Call)

PLT Head Office Tel: 01242 222188  (office hours Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm)

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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


  1. Mark says:

    Hi Juan,

    Business to business (wholesale) does not require licensing, so if you are shipping to UK businesses, a personal or premises licence would not be required.

    In terms of UK licensing, for selling alcohol online to customers (business to customer, retail sale), a premises licence is required at the point of dispatch (usually the storage facility). The office taking the bookings does not require licensing, and is different to a shop counter in this respect.

    In terms of licensing for exporting alcohol from Spain to the UK, you need to speak to the import/export authorities in Spain to find out if licensing is required. HM Revenue & Customs can discuss UK duties and the movement of goods in general- their Excise and Customs Helpline on Tel 0845 010 9000.

    The very best of luck with your business venture.

  2. Juan says:

    Hi, first of all, thanks for this information.
    Secondly, I would like to ask you if you know if this licences are needed if you are not based in the U.K., which is my case. I live in Spain and I’m starting up an online store to sell local produced wines to the U.K. as a retailer.

  3. Jeremy says:

    A grey area of the law this…The premises licence, despite it’s name, applies to the point of contract, and not the actual premises where the alcohol is stored. If you are selling alcohol to the public you need a personal licence and a premises licence. This includes selling alcohol on Ebay. You may have noticed sellers getting around this by selling alcohol as “collectables” which is not covered by the licensing laws (and as such it will probably soon be amended….).

    Thanks for pointing this one out to us, (only just found out about this myself!). If you need any more information contact your local licensing authority, or give our sponsors Personal Licence Training Ltd a call on on 01527 544780, who are always available for licensing advice.

  4. David C says:

    Thank you for putting this together however I have a quick question (if you would be so kind).

    What if I’m not storing or indeed own the alcohol but rather facilitating the payment between customer and licensed premises? Akin to Amazon taking payment from the buyer on behalf of the seller.

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