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Published on November 9th, 2011 | by Dean Carr


How do I get a licence to sell alcohol?

“How do I get a licence to sell alcohol?” is one of the most frequently asked questions we get on this blog! The answer is quite simple: to sell alcohol by retail in England, Wales and Scotland, you will require a personal licence, which is a personal alcohol licence granted to an individual. You also require the premises where the alcohol is sold from to hold a premises licence. A premises must have a valid premises licence if the sale is to be made to the general public (retail sale of alcohol). The premises licence must also have a personal licence holder nominated on to the premises licence as the person responsible for that licensed premises. This person is known as the (DPS) or designated premises supervisor (licensee).

To obtain a personal licence allowing you to sell alcohol or become a (DPS) or designated premises supervisor (licensee), you are required to obtain a licensing qualification. There are currently two licensing qualifications for England, Wales and Scotland, these are as follows:

  • Award for Personal Licence Holders (APLH) Level 2 (England & Wales)
  • Scottish Certificate for Personal Licence Holders (SCPLH) Level 5 (Scotland)
The old licensing qualification for England & Wales was known as the National Certificate for Personal Licence Holders (NCPLH) Level 2. This licensing qualification became invalid on 1st April 2010. However, the NCPLH is still acceptable to apply for a personal licence to sell alcohol.
A personal licence is granted by a local council’s Licensing Authority or in Scotland by a Licensing Board. Once granted a personal licence is valid for ten years. The only person who can object to the grant of a personal licence is the Chief Officer of Police. An objection to a personal licence is based on whether the individual applying has any relevant criminal convictions.
For information on national training courses for alcohol licensing please contact or call Licensing on: 01527 544 780
We hope this answers some of your questions on “How do I get a licence to sell alcohol?”

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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 Elizabeth,

    The occasional licence is now known as a Temporary Event Notice (TEN). You can apply for a TEN at your local licensing authority- the licensing department of your local council. The link below should help you find your local licensing authority: out about liquor licences

    This change took place under the Licensing Act 2003, which came into force in 2005, so the new system is still fairly new to people. Licensing authorities have replaced Magistrates’ Courts as licensing bodies, and should be much easier to communicate with.

  2. Elizabeth Young says:

    Where do I get an occasional licence from – none of the magistratres Courts will speak to you unless it is about fines. I am currently trying Haywards Heath but they refer you to Brighton who is not manned. I need application form and want to know where to send it for an event in East Grinstead

  3. Mark says:

    Hi Terry,
    Potentially- if the club is owned by the members and all profit made from the “sale” of alcohol is to go directly back to the club, rather than to individuals, then your sports club may be suitable for a club premises certificate (a qualifying club premises). Under a club premises certificate, the serving of alcoholic drinks is categorised as supply from one member to another, rather than retail (business to customer) sale.

    If retail sales to non-members are to be made, it may be financially worthwhile investing in a standard premises licence. Alternatively, you could limit sales to non-members to set events covered by a Temporary Events Notice, which costs £30 and covers an event lasting up to 96 hours. Up to twelve Temporary Events Notice are permitted per year for a single premises.

    In either case, your application can be made to your local licensing authority (the licensing department of your local council). The licensing consultants at Personal Licence Training Ltd (01527 544780) would be happy to give information and advice concerning your application process, or provide assistance.

    For further reading, Portsmouth City Council offer a good summary of club premises certificates:

  4. Terry Whitebread says:

    Are there any special conditions when applying for a liquor license at an amateur sports club ?

  5. Mark says:

    Hi Yasemin,

    You will require a variation to your premises licence to cover home delivery. A variation of licence means altering your existing licence, not applying for a new one (the variation process was introduced in the Licensing Act 2003 to prevent people needing to apply for multiple different licences). A successful variation will allow you to carry out extra licensable activities, such as home delivery.

    The application will need to be made to your local licensing authority- the licensing department of your local council. As variation can be a complex procedure, many people seek assistance with the application process. We work closely with the licensing consultants at Personal Licence Training Ltd ( 0845 388 5472, who could answer any specific questions you might have or process your application on your behalf.

  6. yasemin mirzaev says:

    hi.we actually have an alcohol licence but it says alcohol will be consumed on the can we get permission to deliver alcohol to our costumers?

  7. Jeremy says:

    As long as there are no criminal convictions involved, there is no reason why a person who has filed for bankruptcy cannot be a DPS.
    More on DPS here. More on criminal convictions here.

  8. melford day says:

    can a person who has filed for bankruptcy be a DPS.

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