Selling alcohol on the internet Alc-licence-web

Published on January 6th, 2018 | by Dean Carr

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Selling alcohol on the internet

During 2017 we noticed that we where getting more and more enquirers about selling alcohol over the internet! So we decided to post this article to give you the facts about online retailing of alcohol.

In England, Wales or Scotland online sales of alcohol to the general public are classed as licensable activities and require a premises licence. A premises licence will also require a personal licence holder to act as the Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) or in Scotland this person is known as the premises manager.

The first thing to understand is there are 3 licensing Acts for the United Kingdom

  1. Licensing Act 2003 for England & Wales
  2. Licensing Act 2005 for Scotland
  3. The Licensing (Northern Ireland) Order 1996

These licensing Acts do vary so we will only look at England & Wales in this article.

In England & Wales a premises licence is required at the commercial premises where the sale of alcohol is legally appropriated, in other words a licence is required at point of dispatch. This could be a warehouse, office with storage facility, retail shop premises or any other commercial premises.

A premises licence on a domestic premises is highly unlikely to be granted.

A premises licence will also require a personal licence holder to act as the Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS). A local council’s Licensing Authority may also ask for several personal licence holders on larger licensed premises to cover shift patterns, holidays etc. The Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) will be the main point of contact for Responsible Authorities such as the Police, Fire Officer, Trading Standards or Council Licensing Officer.

A premises licence is granted by a Council’s Licensing Authority where the premises is situated and the licence application fee is based upon the rateable value of the business premises. An annual licensing fee is also payable each year once a premises licence has been granted.

The Licensing Authority will also require a detailed plan of the premises showing where the alcohol is stored and dispatched. A copy of the plan together with the application form must submitted to the Council and all of the Responsible Authorities in the council area where the premises is situated. A blue legal notice must also be displayed at the premises for no less than 28 days.

Promoting the licensing objectives

The applicant must also demonstrate how they intend to promote the four licensing objectives for their online alcohol business. these objectives are as follows;

  • the prevention of crime and disorder
  • public safety
  • the prevention of public nuisance
  • the protection of children from harm

These objectives are listed in the application form and are the basis of the premises licence application. The hardest objective to promote with an online alcohol retail business is the protection of children from harm. The applicant will need to demonstrate what steps they have taken to avoid alcohol being sold or delivered to minors under the age of 18 years.

There is guidance on this under the “Revised Guidance issued under section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003” (April 2017)

You will need to pay attention to guidance under section (3.8 – 3.10) Mobile, remote, internet and other delivery sales

At this point it may be advisable to speak to a professional licensing consult for advise. As online sales applications can be a minefield regarding sales and delivery of 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



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