Published on September 26th, 2012 | by Dean Carr
Selling alcohol from a mobile bar
A licensing guide to selling alcohol from a mobile bar, temporary structure or similar.
The sale of alcohol is not limited to pubs and shops. From one-off stall holders to established events businesses, people sell alcohol from mobile bars. All kinds of premises, some quite unconventional, are used: stalls for fates and festivals; trailer bars; outdoor stands; restaurant barges; buses with bars; temporary gazebos.
Under the Licensing Act 2003, a ‘premises’ has a wide definition. It may be a building, defined open space, vehicle, vessel or moveable structure. A premises licence can be granted to any of these types of premises.
All of the licences and notices discussed below can be applied for through your local licensing authority- the licensing department of your local council. Your local licensing authority can also provide licensing advice and information.
Two forms of alcohol licence:
Selling alcohol from a mobile bar is governed by the same set of laws as a fixed premises business, such as a pub. Two forms of alcohol licence are required for the sale of alcohol by retail: the premises licence and the personal licence. A premises licence is applied to the premises in question. A personal licence is applied to the named individual. Every retail sale must be made or overseen by a personal licence holder. Any licensable activity taking place on private or public land will require these licences.
Upholding the licensing objectives:
The four licensing objectives are the bedrock of the Licensing Act 2003 and the premises licence:
- The prevention of crime and disorder
- The promotion of public safety
- The prevention of public nuisance
- The protection of children from harm
Fixed premises take steps to fulfil these duties. Busy bars and night clubs, for example, use plastic glasses and exit barriers for the promotion of public safety. For a mobile bar business, upholding these licensing objectives will realistically involve liaising with the event managers and other service providers onsite to make sure that suitable measures have been put in place.
A Temporary Event Notice (TEN) is a temporary alternative to a premises licence, lasting for up to a week. Although there are a range of limitations to be taken into consideration (discussed in our TEN guide), TENs are a viable alternative to a premises licence for small mobile bar businesses running a limited number of events every year. TENs are also a cost effective way to test a fledgling mobile bar business before investing in a premises licence.
Selling to businesses
Wholesale of alcohol is business to business sale and is not a licensable activity. As such, a mobile service can supply shops and businesses without a premises licence and personal licence holder. A purely wholesale business, unlicensed, must take great care not to sell to the general public (retail sale).
For bars and mobile bars, the point of sale is direct- over the counter. Distance retail is fundamentally different, as the sale is made over the phone or online. More information is available in our distance retail guide.