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Alcohol licensing: What do I need to know?

We’ve had a lot of queries recently from members wondering if they can sell alcohol alongside their existing menu, or, use it as an ingredient in food. The regulations are not always clear online and so we’ve put together a list of common questions regarding whether or not you would require an alcohol licence or Temporary Event Notice for your business.

What’s the difference?

Premises licenceA premises licence is a permanent licence granted for a specific location, that authorises the holder to carry on any or all of the following licensable activities: the sale of alcohol. the supply of alcohol by a club to its members and guests. Think of the bar at street food setups such as Digbeth Dining Club or GRUB Manchester, breweries, wine shops and home businesses selling directly to customers.

Personal Licence – A personal licence is granted to an individual which authorises them to sell alcohol or to supply alcohol in accordance with a premises licence.

Temporary Event Notice (TEN)A Temporary Event Notice (TEN) is required if you want to carry out a ‘licensable activity’ on unlicensed premises in England or Wales.

Licensable activity includes:

  • selling alcohol
  • serving alcohol to members of a private club
  • providing entertainment, such as music, dancing or indoor sporting events
  • serving hot food or drink between 11pm and 5am

Common questions

Can I sell alcoholic cakes without a TEN or licence?

As long as the product is at or under the 0.5% ratio at the time of sale or supply, then it’s fine to sell cakes containing alcohol without obtaining a licence/TEN. Chocolate liqueurs and ice creams are not classed as alcohol, but, if it does exceed the 0.5 mark, then you would require one.

Can I sell a small bottle of Bailey’s alongside a hot chocolate?

This wouldn’t be allowed as, essentially, you are profiting from the sale of alcohol and so would require a licence or TEN. The licensing act kicks in when the % is met – whether it be a small miniature or 6 bottles, it’s all licensable. Just because it may be 1 small miniature, sadly it doesn’t side-step the act.

Anything over 0.5% is classed as alcohol and so you would need a premises licence for the location that you are selling or dispatching (if online sales) a one person to be named as a designated premises supervisor (who would hold a personal license).

Where do I stand with alcohol orders via social media?

Sales via Facebook, Instagram etc would need a premises licence for the location that the order is dispatched from. Just because you are operating from home and so wouldn’t have any customers ‘in-person’ – this doesn’t change anything, you would still need a premises and personal licence.

I offer DIY burger kits for delivery and would like to add alcohol to my line-up. Do I require a licence?

Yes. Any sale of products exceeding the 0.5% ration would require an alcohol licence. Teaming up with a local business who already possesses a premises licence may offer a solution if you really want to offer drinks as part of your package.

I provide alcohol as part of a wedding catering package. What’s the deal?

Where a wedding takes place in an unlicensed venue and the client pays for all the alcohol (i.e. there’s a free bar and wine on the tables during the meal), no alcohol licence or TEN is required. No retail sale has taken place and the alcohol is truly free to the end consumers, so it cannot be licensable.

I run a prosecco van and am set to trade at a festival. What do I need?

In this situation you would undoubtedly be making a retail sale as you would take money from the end customer for each glass of drink provided. Therefore, you would definitely need to have a personal licence and a TEN or premises licence would need to be in place for the festival site.

Can I give a bottle away for free?

When this is the case, there would be no need for a premises or personal licence as long as the item is completely free. For example, buy a hamper for £80 and get a free bottle of Bailey’s  – the Bailey’s is not free because you have had to buy the hamper to qualify for the ‘free’ bottle.  That scenario would need to be covered by a licence.

I hold an alcohol licence and would like to offer alcoholic beverages for click and collect…

Under normal circumstances, this would be legal. However, under current Covid-19 regulations across the four nations of the UK, the sale of takeaway alcohol is currently banned. You can, however, still offer it to customers for home delivery.

I am doing an event and would like to offer alcohol on my menu for the weekend only?

In this case, a temporary events licence (TEN) would be suitable. TENs can be used to authorise relatively small-scale ad hoc events held in or on any premises involving no more than 500 people at any one time.

A Temporary Events Notice (TEN) allows you to hold a licensable activity at a venue that is not currently licensed, or to hold or extend activities your existing licence does not permit. For more information on TENs, click here.

How many TENS am I allowed per year?

You are allowed five temporary events licences a year. If you obtain a personal licence, however you are allowed 50 a year instead.

Does a personal alcohol licence expire?

No, a Personal Licence has no expiry date and is valid from the date it was issued and is also portable throughout England and Wales. Licence holders can continue to authorise alcoholic sells indefinitely.

How do I apply for an alcohol licence?

For more information on the different types of alcohol licences and how to apply for them, click here.

Remember: It is your duty as a business to ensure anyone visiting your premises or website is over the age of 18.

Further resources:

READ: How to tell if you need an alcohol licence
WATCH: Alcohol Licensing Webinar