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Special Licence

Special Alcohol Licences

The non working days for processing Special Licenses are 20 December - 15 January the following year.  This means that special licences for any time between now and the end of January need to be received no later than 14 November each year.

A special licence authorises the sale, supply, or consumption of alcohol on or at a specified location, premises or ‘conveyance’ (such as a boat or train) for a particular occasion or event, or series of events.

This type of licence is most commonly used to extend the hours or area of licensed premises, or on one-off occasions (such as weddings and 21st celebrations).

When is a special licence required?

A special licence is required if alcohol is to be sold and supplied:

  • at any event not covered by an existing on-licence or club-licence
  • at any event or any unlicensed premises (e.g. local hall) or conveyance (e.g. boat) where the caterer does not have an endorsed off-licence
  • at an event in club premises at which non-members are present
  • outside the hours or area authorised on an existing on-licence or club-licence

There is a need to distinguish between events requiring a special licence and a regular activity that would be covered by an ‘on’ or ‘off’-licence.  For a special licence to apply, the social gathering must involve people sharing a common interest, with the principal activity of the function being other than the consumption of liquor.

You can apply in advance for multiple occasions/events if the event dates are known.  However, it must be a series of related events, held on the same premises.

Examples of a series of one-off functions would be:

  • a three-day event where you may wish to sell or supply alcohol on each of the days 
  • a social club that holds drinks on the last Friday of each month

You are not required to hold a special licence if:

  • you are supplying alcohol to your guests in your own private residence 
  • your guests are bringing alcohol to your own private residence

Private functions

A special licence is required for a private social gathering (i.e. wedding or birthday party) in the following circumstances:

  • if there is a sale and supply of alcohol 
  • the function is being held in licensed premises outside of the hours or conditions of the licence  
  • the function is being held in unlicensed premises and the host is purchasing the alcohol from the owner of those premises (the owner must apply for a licence) 

Do I need a certified manager?

Not always. The alcohol licensing inspector will make a recommendation whether you require a person who holds a managers certificate to attend your event and be responsible for compliance with the alcohol licence.  If you do not need a certified manager a person will be named on the licence who has been nominated as being responsible for the sale and supply of alcohol.

How do I apply?

Download one of the above application forms, visit our customer service centre to pick one up, or call 07 577 7000 to request an application be posted to you.

The application form outlines all of the information you need to supply with your application. Fill in the form and bring it to the Council, along with any required information and the processing fee.

Special licences can take up to 20 working days to process to please ensure you have filed your application at least 20 working days before your event.

Fees and charges

Last Reviewed: 23/01/2017