Alcohol licensing

Businesses, organisations and individuals who want to sell or supply alcohol in England and Wales must have a licence or other authorisation from a licensing authority - usually a local council. The law and policy governing this area is overseen by the Home Office.

Who needs an alcohol licence

Any business, organisation or individual planning to sell or supply alcohol on a permanent basis will need a licence in order to do so:

  • any business or other organisation that sells or supplies alcohol on a permanent basis needs a premises licence
  • anyone who plans to sell or supply alcohol or authorise the sale or supply of alcohol must have a personal licence
  • qualifying 'members' clubs (such as the Royal British Legion, working men’s clubs and rugby clubs) need a club premises certificate if they plan to sell or supply alcohol

Anyone who plans to sell or supply alcohol on a temporary basis, must submit a temporary event notice.

How much does a licence cost?

The licence fee is based on the non-domestic rateable value (NDRV) of the premises. You can check your rateable value at the Valuation Office Agency website. Premises that do not have a rateable value are allocated to Band A. You have to pay an additional fee for large scale events involving more than 5000 people or, in certain cases, where premises exclusively or primarily sell alcohol.

As well as the application fee, you will also need to pay an annual fee to the council to cover ongoing costs of monitoring and enforcement. For example, if the council and police need to visit your establishment at the same time.

Find out how much you have to pay.

How do you apply for an alcohol licence?

To apply for a licence, you will need to complete an application form and send it to your local council, along with the fee. You may also need to send copies of your form (depending on the type of application you are making) to the police and other 'responsible authorities'. You can apply online via Businesslink if your council accepts electronic applications. Otherwise, you can apply by post.

Responsible authorities

  • police
  • local fire and rescue
  • primary care trust (PCT) or local health board (LHB)
  • the relevant licensing authority
  • local enforcement agency for the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974
  • environmental health authority
  • planning authority
  • body responsible for the protection of children from harm
  • local trading standards
  • any other licensing authority in whose area part of the premises is situated

You can find online application forms for all licences, and advice on how to apply on the Business Link website.  Alternatively you can download applications forms in Word format on this website.

You should also contact your local council for advice on the application process. 

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