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Selling alcohol in the UK: what you need to know

If you are considering a business idea that involves selling alcohol in the UK – i.e. maybe you dream of owning your own pub, or hotel – then you’re going to need a licence.

Inevitably, starting any new business can be daunting, and the ins-and-outs of UK alcohol licensing requirements can look tricky. To help you navigate through the topic, Flogas, a UK business gas supplier offering competitive commercial gas prices, has complied with this starting guide.

An overview:

Location is important – if you want to operate a business in either England or Wales that sells, or supplies, alcohol, then a license is legally required.  This is authorised by the licensing authority in the area, which is usually your local council. This legislation is overseen by the Home Office, and is defined is as follows:

Businesses that sell or supply alcohol on a permanent basis, such as pubs, need to apply for a premises licence.

  1. Those who plan to authorise the sale of alcohol must apply for a personal licence, alongside the premises licence, if they are also the owner of the business in that premises.

The initial licensing process involves completing an application form, and pay your fee to the local council. As well as the local authority, you will also have to send your application to the police and other responsible authorities; these responsible authorities can include:

  • The primary care trust (PCT) or local health board (LHB)
  • Local trading standards
  • Planning authority
  • Environmental health authority
  • Local fire and rescue
  • Any other licensing authority in whose area part of the premises is located.

Information about premises

After completing your application form, and paying the fee, if successful, the licence will cover alcohol sales within any premises. Premises are defined as a vehicle, vessel, or moveable structure. To successfully apply for this licence, you will be asked a series of questions including the following:

  • Overall information concerning the premises, like the address.
  • Your details as an applicant.
  • The operating schedule, including the date you want the licence to begin.
  • Licensable activities you plan to undertake. You should also indicate what days and times you want the licence to be active from. This also includes the provision of regulated entertainment, such as indoor sporting events, live music and recorded music.
  • Under the new licensing laws, you should also stipulate who you wish to be the designated premises supervisor (DPS).
  • Your business’ opening hours.
  • How you intend to encourage the four key licensing objectives, which are: the prevention of crime and disorder, public safety, the protection of children from harm, the prevention of public nuisance.
  • The planning of the premises and any marketing on or around the premises that you wish to use.

Things to consider for the business owner

If your start-up involves a pub-type setting then, even though your general staff do not need a personal licence, you will require a personal licence-holding premises supervisor.

If you’re planning to be the owners of the premises licence, then you also need to be the personal licence holder if the business is yours too. Furthermore, anyone who works in a pub should be authorised to do so by the personal licence holder.

Before applying for this licence, be aware that it is designed to make sure that anyone managing or running the pub is doing so professionally.

Now you know what you need, it’s time for you to get the ball rolling and apply for your alcohol licence! Then you can have a celebratory drink!

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