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Premises Licences - what to know

Updated: Feb 16

If you own premises - including pubs, clubs, bars, hotels, restaurants and cafes - serving alcohol, do you have a Premises Licence? If you haven’t, the legal consequences could be severe.

What does the licence cover?

For the purposes of the Licensing Act 2003, the following are licensable activities:

  • The sale of alcohol.

  • The supply of alcohol by or on behalf of a club to, or to the order of, a member of the club.

  • The provision of regulated entertainment.

  • The provision of late-night refreshment, by which is meant 11pm - 5am.

A Premises Licence is still needed even if alcoholic drinks are provided free of charge as part of an overall service.

In addition, if alcohol is intended to be served on the premises, there must be planning permission to do so, and the terms of the lease must also permit that use.

How to apply

The person organising the event will need to contact their local authority for a Premises Licence. When they do so, they will need to provide:

  • their details (such as name, address);

  • details of the Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS);

  • a detailed plan of the premises;

  • an operating schedule (this is a document that gives details of the dates and hours when it is planned to serve alcohol).

The Premises Licence will designate a premises supervisor. They must also hold a Personal Licence. The Personal Licence holder will authorise other staff members serving alcohol at the premises.

The person applying for the licence must be over eighteen.

The application notice must be displayed at or on the premises for twenty-eight days from the day after it was submitted.

If the event is a small-scale, one-off licensable one, a full premises licence might not be needed. A Temporary Event Notice can be applied for instead.

Licence fees

The fee for the licence will be based on the rateable value of the venue to which it relates. If there is no rateable value for the premises, the fee will be the lowest band. Fees are paid annually and failure to pay the annual fee would result in suspension of the licence

Who is the appropriate licensing authority?

The application must be made to the relevant licensing authority, which will be the local authority in whose area the premises are situated. Where the premises cross the boundary of two authority areas, the application will be made to the authority in whose area the largest part of the premises is situated.

Objections and representations

Representations may well be made in support of - or against - the application. If representations are received, the licensing authority must hold a hearing to investigate them and decide what to do.

However, if the licensing authority, the applicant and the people making representations can agree (through mediation or compromise) that the hearing is not necessary, it will not have to be held.

Relevant representations fall into two categories; those made by interested parties, which usually means local residents or businesses, and those submitted by responsible authorities, which includes the police, the fire authorities and the HSE.


Even if the licence is granted, additional conditions may be added, including an age checking policy, for example.

Displaying the licence

When the licence is obtained, it must be displayed on the premises where it can be seen by anyone who wishes to view it.

The other pages of the licence should be kept safely on the premises. Since the police or council officers can ask to see them, it should be ensured that all staff know where the pages are in case an inspection request is made.

Length of licence

There is not usually a limit to the duration of the licence, but a licence holder will need to pay their annual fees.

If the original applicant leaves the premises and a new business takes over, the premises licence can be transferred.

Fines and penalties

If the licence holder is asked to produce their licence and fails to do so, they can be fined up to £1,000.

If alcohol is served on the premises without a licence, the owner can be fined up to £20,000,

sent to prison for up to 6 months, or both.

If the premises owner is unsure about any stage of the application process, they should take legal advice to ensure that they are fully compliant with everything that the law requires.

rradarstation: rradarstation is a resource available through the AXA MLP where policyholders can access rradar’s legal advisory team over the phone or by email. A web portal provides over 1,000 articles, step by step guidance sheets, forms, sample letters and templates to download relating to running a commercial business including licensing requirements.

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