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There’s an impressive array of alcohol drinks in the fine food industry – as you’ll see in the pages of Drinks Buyer – but there are certain hoops you’ll need to jump through in order to sell them on your premises. While the paperwork may seem dull, it is necessary, so do not be tempted to skip the queue and sell alcohol without permission from your local authorities. Please also note that the Government can take your licence if it is not used correctly, so it is well worth researching the matter fully before committing and keeping an eye on legislation. Below, we list valuable resources worth looking at if you’re thinking about selling alcohol, as well as a simple run-through of the basics you’ll need to know when going through the process.
Put simply, if your premises sells alcohol you must hold an age verification policy to ensure that all customers served alcohol are aged 18 or over
Any customer who appears to be under the age of 18 must be asked to provide identification showing their date of birth, photograph and a holographic mark or ultra-violet feature
Acceptable ID include a photo card driving licence, passports or proof of age cards with PASS hologram or military ID card
If you plan to sell alcohol from your premises, either you or a member of your staff must hold a personal licence so that every sale of alcohol has been authorised
To hold a personal licence, the applicant must be over 18 and have passed a licensing qualification, for example the Award for Personal Licence Holders (APLH) Level 2
If the owner of a retail establishment holds a valid personal licence both they and their staff are authorised to sell alcohol, but the owner may lose his licence if the correct protocol is not adhered to by their staff
A premises licence is required for any premises (defined in the Licensing 2003 Act as any place or part of any premises, vehicle, vessel or moveable structure)
Planning consent and a personal licence must be in place before applying for a premises licence
You can apply online if your council approves electronic applications; there are separate applications for England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland
Designated Premises Supervisor
All premises which sell alcohol must have a designated premises supervisor, who holds responsibility for running the operation and can act as the contact for the local government and police, and is named in the operating schedule which will be completed while applying for a premises licence. A DPS must hold a personal licence and have been nominated by the premises licence holder for the role
To apply for a licence, a completed application form must be sent to your local council with the fee; some types of applications may require copies of the form to be sent to other ‘responsible authorities’ including the police, Fire Authority, Trading Standards, Child Protection, Town and County Planning Department and Environmental Health
Your application must include a scale floor plan at 1:100 of the proposed trading area in order for the application fees to be calculated – fees are based on the business’s rateable value
Local businesses, neighbours and responsible authorities may object to your application for a premises licence – the local Licensing Authority will schedule a hearing before the council’s Licensing Committee if this happens, where your application will either be granted or refused. Appeals can be made to a Magistrates Court.
Changing your premises licence
In order to make small changes to your licence you must use the minor variation process – a faster and lower-cost process than the full variation application – which will be advised on by your local council. This process is suitable if you are changing the hours you sell alcohol or modifying the layout of your premises.
Advertising your application
Your application for a premises licence must be advertised for 28 consecutive days at the site of the proposed sale of alcohol, as well as in the public notices pages of your local newspaper. If your application is not advertised according to the guidelines, it will be automatically rejected.
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