Alcohol Licence Law Selling alcohol

Published on November 6th, 2012 | by Dean Carr


Selling alcohol

When it comes to selling alcohol, initial questions can be a little overwhelming. Do I need a licence to sell alcohol? What licences do I need? How do I apply for a licence? Can I sell alcohol online? Do other staff need training? This article is a basic introduction to selling alcohol, and should tackle some of your questions. Follow the links for more information.

What licences do I need?

There are two types of alcohol licence: the personal licence and the premises licence. Both are required for selling alcohol by retail.

The premises licence is fixed to the business premises and allows licensable activities to take place within it. The sale of alcohol is a licensable activity.

The personal licence allows a person to supervise the sale of alcohol within a licensed premises. Every sale of alcohol must be made or overseen by a personal licence holder. A personal licence lasts for ten years, at which point it must be renewed or surrendered. A personal licence holder can use the licence throughout England and Wales. A separate Scottish personal licence is required under Scottish law. A personal licence allows the holder to be named on the premises licence as the designated premises supervisor.

One licensing policy:

The Licensing Act 2003 provides one policy for all businesses selling alcohol: pubs, shops, bars, members clubs, night clubs, hotels, supermarkets, off licences, theatres and more. Scotland has a similar, one policy act, the Licensing Act (Scotland) 2005.

How do I apply for a licence?

You can apply for either licence to your local licensing authority. This is the licensing department of your local council. In Scotland, the application is made to your regional licensing board.

A personal licence application is reasonably straightforward. A personal licence applicant will need to complete a mandatory licensing qualification. In England and Wales, this is known as the Award for Personal Licence Holders, a level 2 qualification. In Scotland, it is known as the Scottish Certificate for Personal Licence Holders. These can be undertaken through a licence training firm, such as Personal Licence Training Ltd, or through some colleges.

A premises licence application is a thorough process. The applicant will need to have a scale plan of the premises drawn up and arrange for fire safety checks to take place.

Do other staff need training?

What about staff other than licence holders, do they need training?

In Scotland, every member of staff in licensed premises must complete two hours of basic staff training. An experienced licence holder can deliver this training, although his/her delivery of the training may well benefit from the use of course material, such as the Scottish Certificate for Licensed Premises Staff.

In England and Wales, there is no mandatory obligation to provide training for other staff, although they must always implement an age verification policy. A prudent designated premises supervisor will instruct all staff members, instilling in them the confidence to demand identification and then inspect the identification given.

Can I sell alcohol online?

Yes, is the short answer, although the licensable points of a premises vary considerably to over the counter sale. You can read more in our guide to selling alcohol online and by mail order. Also note that the wholesale (business to business sale) of alcohol does not require alcohol licences.


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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