Nearly every aspect of our lives is regulated and licensed in the UK, and selling alcohol is no exception. If you want to open a corner shop selling alcohol, or run a licensed restaurant or pub, then you will have to be approved for a personal licence first. This isn’t just another paperwork formality; applications aren’t just rubber stamped and licences sent out in the post. You will have to satisfy the licensing authorities that you are a fit and proper person to be given the responsibility of selling alcohol to others.
Who Needs a Personal Licence?
There are different alcohol licences, and the type of licence you need will depend on what you plan to do. If you’re organising, for example, a one-off charity event where you will be serving food and running a bar, you need an occasional licence. These are organised through the local Council in most cases and are not expensive to get. The level of detail is also fairly minimal – you’ll have to tell the Council about the event your will be running and commit to finishing and clearing up by a given time. However, this is a “one-time” licence, and not suitable for anyone wishing to run events on a regular basis.
If you are planning to set up a restaurant, bar or other outlet selling alcohol on a permanent basis, you’ll need a different licence. In fact, you might have to apply for two different licences. The first is a premises licence, which allows alcohol to be sold from a named building, structure or vehicle. Then the person in charge of that building will also have to apply for a personal licence, which gives them the right to either sell alcohol themselves or oversee the sale of alcohol.
Obtaining a Personal Licence
There are a few requirements for anyone applying for a personal alcohol licence. The first is that licences can only be issued to people over the age of 18, with no exceptions. Applicants must also pass one of the courses designed to prepare someone for the responsibilities of selling alcohol. There is a list of approved courses on the government’s website. Many courses can be done online, and once you’ve passed the test a certificate is sent to you in the post.
Once you’ve passed your test and got your certificate, there’s one more hurdle before applying for your licence. All personal licence holders need a Basic Disclosure Check, which is a certificate showing your current, unspent criminal record. Your record need not necessarily be completely clear, but someone with a string of convictions for serious crimes is unlikely to be considered responsible enough to be a pub landlord. Getting a DBS check can take anything from a couple of weeks to a few months depending on the level of demand at the time of application and how complex your situation is. You can’t send for your personal licence until you have the certificate, so try to act promptly to maximise your chances of getting your licence quickly.