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How to get a pub licence

If you want to sell or supply alcohol in England or Wales, you will require a licence or authorisation from the licensing authority, which is typically the local council. This requirement for a licence is true for businesses, organisations and individuals. 

Businesses and organisations that require alcohol licences include but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Pubs
  • Bars
  • Theatres
  • Nightclubs
  • Late night cafes
  • Takeaways
  • Village and Community Halls
  • Supermarkets

What is a pub licence?

Whilst the phrase pub licence might be relatively common, a ‘pub licence’ does not exist. However, pubs will require both a premises licence and have a designated premises supervisor who holds a personal licence. Your pub will be required to publicly display the premises licence and the personal licence so that customers can easily see them/

Whilst the phrase pub licence might be relatively common, a ‘pub licence’ does not exist.

Instead, you will need a premises licence and a designated premises supervisor with a personal licence.

Different types of licence

There are multiple types of licences that might be required, depending on your circumstances, these being:

  • Every business or organisation that sells or supplies alcohol on a permanent basis will need to apply for a premises licence
  • Anyone who plans to sell or supply alcohol, or authorise the sale or supply of alcohol must apply for a personal licence
  • Certain qualifying clubs need to apply for a club premises certificate if they intend to sell or supply alcohol
  • Temporary event notices are permits specifically for a restricted period, up to a maximum of 168 hours
  • Provisional Statements are interim provisions of a premises licence, for situations where the premises has not yet been built. These are designed to give investors and stakeholders a degree of certainty regarding the future use and licencing of a premises

Premises Licence

The premises licence authorises the use of a premises for the licensable activities as defined in section 1 of the 2003 Licensing Act. There are four licensable activities covered within Section 1, these being:

  • The sale of alcohol by retail
  • The supply of alcohol by or on behalf of a club to, or to the order of, a member of a club
  • The provision of regulated entertainment
  • The provision of late night refreshment … between the hours of 11.00pm and 5.00am

Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS)

The designated premises supervisor for a pub must hold a personal licence. They will act as the person specified on the premises licence, and will be responsible for authorising the supply of alcohol within the pub. This designated person must be easily and readily identifiable at any stage. This person will need to be the one with the day to day responsibility for the running of the premises. 

Operating Schedules 

Operating schedules are a key requirement of the so-called ‘pub licence’, the premises licence. When applying for a premises licence, you will be required to provide details of when and which licensable activities are planned to take place on the premises, as well as other times that members of the public will be present on the premises. When stating who the designated premises supervisor is, you will also need to state what steps the licence holder will take to ensure that the licensing objectives are promoted and adhered to.

How to apply for a Pub Licence

As previously stated, there is no such ‘pub licence’, however there are certain licences you will require to run a pub, namely the premises licence and a designated premises supervisor to have a personal licence.

How to apply for a Personal Licence

Once you have a personal licence, you will be able to act as the valid Designed Premises Supervisor for any venue with a premises licence. To apply for a personal licence, you will be required to hold a relevant licensing qualification. A full list of accredited qualifications for personal licences to sell alcohol can be found on the Gov website

In addition to the relevant qualification, you will be required to demonstrate that you understand the responsibility required to sell alcohol, such as preventing public nuisance, protecting children and preventing crime and disorder. As part of the application, you will need to declare any name or address changes, and any convictions for relevant offences such as crime, drugs or sex offences. Applying for a personal licence will cost £37.

How to apply for a Premises Licence

To apply for a premises licence, you will need a designated premises supervisor. You will also need to provide a detailed plan of the premises, and a schedule of when licensed activities will take place. To apply for a premises licence, you will need to be over the age of 18 and prove that you are eligible to live and work in the UK. Your premises licence will remain valid unless revoked or otherwise specified. 

The cost of applying for a premises licence will vary depending on the type of premises, but ranges between £100 and £1,905. There is also a yearly fee.

Can you transfer a Premises Licence?

When searching for pubs for lease or sale it is important to check if a premises licence is current and active. If the licence is active, you can apply for a licence transfer which might also involve a change in designated premises supervisor. If a pub that you have purchased does not have an active licence, you will in most circumstances be required to apply for a new licence.

Exemptions to the Licensing Act

  • Places of Worship do not require a premises licence for activities defined as regulated entertainment
  • Garden Fetes and similar events are not classified as regulated entertainment so do not require a licence

Live Music is not defined as a licensable activity if the following conditions are met:

  • Unamplified live music in all venues
  • Amplified live music before an audience of no more than 200 people on a premises authorised to supply alcohol for consumption on the premises
  • Amplified live music takes place before an audience of no more than 200 people in workplaces not licenced under the 2003 Licensing Act
  • The music event takes place between the hours of 08:00 and 23:00

There are many licences and regulations that you will need to apply and adhere to run a pub. If you are looking to start running a pub, our team of leisure property experts are on hand to help.

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