Personal Licence Licensing laws

Published on May 11th, 2016 | by Dean Carr


Getting a licence to sell alcohol in the UK

Understanding Alcohol Licensing

Alcohol licensing in the United Kingdom is divided into three key areas;

  • England & Wales
  • Scotland
  • Northern Ireland

In this article we will concentrate on England, Wales and Scotland only as Northern Ireland has a completely different licensing regime to the rest of the United Kingdom. The licensing Acts for England & Wales and Scotland are quite similar, but we will point out the key differences in this article. These licensing Act are known as;

  • Licensing Act 2003 for England & Wales
  • Licensing Act (Scotland) 2005 for Scotland

Alcohol licensing in England & Wales

To sell alcohol in England & Wales you require a premises licence or Temporary Event Notice (TEN) this is an occasional licence granted for a special event or a licence granted for a specific location or open space where no licence exists. You also require a personal licence holder to sell or authorise sales of alcohol under a premises licence or Temporary Event Notice.

Most pubs, bars, restaurants, hotels and night clubs will have a premises licence where alcohol is sold for consumption on the premises, these are sometimes referred to as an (ON LICENCE). Supermarkets, shops, convenience stores and off licence premises sell alcohol for consumption off and away from the premises these types of premises are sometimes known as (OFF LICENCE) premises.

All of the above licensed premises require a premise licence and a personal licence holder to be named on the premises licence as a Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS). The DPS should be the person in charge of the daily running of the licenced premises, such as a pub landlord (Licensee) or hotel manager.

A premises licence can not legally operate without an appointed Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS). There should be a separate DPS for each individual licensed premises. A large premises such as a family pub, supermarket or hotel may require more personal licence holders to cover various work shifts, holidays and absence.

How to obtain a personal licence in England & Wales

To become a personal licence holder in England & Wales individuals must undertake training on the licensing Act 2003. This is normally a one day training course with a multiple choice exam at the end. The pass mark is 70%.

Application requirements for a personal licence:

  • You must be 18 or over
  • You must not have had a personal licence forfeited in the past 5 years
  • You must not have been convicted of a relevant offence under schedule 4 of the Licensing Act 2003
  • You must not have been convicted of a relevant foreign offence, which means under the law of any place outside England and Wales
  • You must possess an approved licensing qualification

Once training and a successful exam result is achieved, individuals can then apply to their local council for a personal licence. Candidates will also have to provide evidence that they have no relevant criminal conviction under the licensing Act 2003. This is done by submitting a basic criminal records check (DBS) with each application. Applicants will also have to declare they have no relevant foreign offences.

Application for a personal licence in England & Wales

Each council in England & Wales has a department that deals with alcohol licence applications. These are known as Licensing Authorities. You can apply to the licensing authority where you live for a personal licence to sell alcohol, however you can only sell alcohol under a premises licence or temporary event notice.

Application process and cost

Each local council will provide you with application forms and guidance notes on applying for a personal licence, these can normally be found online. The cost of a personal licence is £37.00 a DBS check is approximately £25 -£30 and the average cost of a training course and examination is around £150 + VAT.

Licence processing service

Some companies offer a licence package deal where you can book your training course and exam and they will process your full personal licence application on your behalf. We recommend our sponsors PLT for this full licence package service. You can choose just to undertake your training and exam only or select a full licence package.

Full course details, dates, and locations can be found on their website.




REVISED GUIDANCE issued under section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003




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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