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Licensing Act

The Licensing Act 2003 came into effect on 24th November 2005

This replaces the old system of Protection Orders, Interim Authorities, Full Transfers, Supper Hours Certificates, Childrens' Certificates etc. which were granted by the local Magistrates Court and also the Public Entertainment Licence granted by the local Council.

The responsibility of the new system now lies with the local Council.

Although the Licensing Act 2003 is a complicated piece of legislation we give below some brief guidance which we hope will be of help.

Very basically there are two types of Licence required to run a public house. They are a Premises Licence and a Personal Licence.



As the title suggests, this is the licence needed for the premises from which it is intended to trade.

A Premises Licence will be required under the new legislation if you intend to: 

1. Sell alcohol either on or off the premises.


1. Put on regulated entertainment, such as live music, theatre or cinema.


1. Sell hot food or drink after 11pm 

When purchasing a property it would be advisable to contact the local council to ascertain the following: 

1. That a Premises Licence is in existence.

2. In whose name the Premise Licence is held.

3. Exactly what the Premises Licence includes. 

Premises Licences authorise all the licensable activities you wish to carry out at the premises. Premises licences are not time limited (unless requested), nor subject to renewal every three years (as was previously the case for liquor licences) nor have a duration of only a year (as was the case for public entertainment licences). The fee charges for the Premises Licence will be the same no matter what or how many licensable activities will take place on the premises.

The Licensing Act 2003 abolishes standard drinking hours, increasing the options available for people in how to spend their leisure time.

Each Premises Licence contains an Operating Schedule. This includes the following information: 
  • the licensable activities to be carried out
  • the proposed hours during which the relevant licensable activities can take place
  • the proposed hours that the premises can be open to the public
  • the duration of the licence (if it is to have a fixed term)
  • details of who is to be the designated premises supervisor (see below for explanation) if the licensable activities include the supply of alcohol
  • where alcohol is to be supplied, whether the supplies are for consumption on and/or off premises
  • a statement of the steps the applicant proposes to take to promote the Licensing Objectives (for example, the arrangements for door security to prevent crime and disorder) (see below)

When taking on a property it is important that you ensure that the existing Operating Schedule lists all the activities you wish to carry out at the property and also ascertain the position as to whether you should now become the Premises Licence Holder. (In the case of leases, this situation differs with the different Pub Companies involved) 

Each premise with a Premises Licence where alcohol is supplied also needs to have a Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) named in the Operating Schedule of the Licence. A DPS must be the holder of a Personal Licence. The DPS will not necessarily be the Premises Licence Holder, although this may sometimes be the case. It is expected that they will be the point of contact for the premises at all times for licensing authorities, or the police or fire services if problems occur at the premises. 

The Licensing Objectives are: 

  • the prevention of crime and disorder
  • public safety
  • the prevention of public nuisance
  • the protection of children from harm

The licensing objectives establish the tests against which a licensing authority carries out its duties under the Act. They aim to ensure that everybody involved in the licensing regime is focused on common goals essential to the fair balance of differing interests and the well being of our communities in relation to licensable activities.


A Personal Licence allows holders to sell alcohol for consumption on or off any premises covered by a Premises Licence. It also allows you to authorise other members of staff to sell alcohol. 

A Personal Licence is completely separate from the Premises Licence, and permits the movement of a Personal Licence holder from one premise to another, thus allowing greater flexibility. 

A Personal Licence is issued for a ten-year period. 

Applications must be made to the Council for the area where the applicant is ordinarily resident unless they live outside England or Wales, in which case the application can be sent to any Council. Renewals will always be made by the Authority which issued the original licence. 

Who can apply for a Personal Licence

Any individual, whether or not they are currently employed or have business interests associated with the use of the licence providing they meet the following requirements: 

  • must be aged 18 or over;
  • possesses a licensing qualification accredited by the Secretary of State;
  • must not have had forfeited a personal licence within five years of their application; and either
  • the police have not given an objection notice about the grant of a personal licence following notification of any unspent relevant offence or foreign offence; or
  • the police have given an objection notice because of a conviction for an unspent relevant offence or a foreign offence, but the licensing authority has not considered it necessary to reject the application on crime prevention grounds; and
  • the applicant has paid the appropriate fee (currently £37.00)

When and how to apply for a Personal Licence

It is advisable to set the process in motion as soon as you decide that you intend to run a licensed property, as there are various procedures to go through. 

1. You will need to hold one of the recommended qualifications. The Secretary of State accredited the following personal licence qualifications under the Licensing Act 2003 Act:

  • BIIAB Level 2 National Certificate for Personal Licence Holders, QCA Accreditation Number : 100/4866/2
  • GOAL Level 2 Certificate for Personal Licence Holders, QCA Accreditation Number: 100/4865/0
  • GQAL Level 2 National Certificate for Personal Licence Holders, QCA Accreditation Number: 100/5040/1

You will have to attend an approved course, as a Personal Licence will not be issued without a pass certificate. Also, it may be a week or more after the course before you receive your certificate. Bearing in mind the time limit in 2. below, it is prudent to wait until you receive your certificate before: 

2. A basic Criminal Record Bureau check is also required. This can be obtained on line at (The current fee is £23.00 and at the current time it is taking about 14 days to come through). Please note that the date of the disclosure must be no earlier than one calendar month before submitting the application to the your local Council. CRB Helpline: Tel 0270 609 6006. It is, therefore, important that your qualification is obtained before applying for your CRB check.

3. You then need to complete an application form for a Personal Licence which can be obtained from your local Council or obtained on line at the Department of Culture, Media & Sports (DCMS) website, together with a declaration by the applicant that he/she has not been convicted of a relevant offence or foreign offence. This form can also be obtained from your local Council or downloaded from

4. The application has to be accompanied by two passport type photographs, one endorsed with a statement verifying the likeness of the photograph to the applicant by a solicitor, notary, a person of standing in the community or any individual with a professional qualification.

5. The fee (currently £37.00) has to be forwarded with the application to the local Council.

The Purchase of a Licensed Property

When a licensed property is being purchased it is important to consider at an early stage if it will be necessary to apply to change the name of the holder of the Premises Licence and also to vary the Premises Licence to specify a new Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS). 

Detailed information on the Licensing Act 2003 can be obtained from The Department of Culture, Media & Sports (DCMS) website

Gambling Act 2005 (Implemented on 1st September 2007).

When taking over a licensed property thought should be given to any Gaming Permit held or required. These are now dealt with by the Council. Every time a Premises Licence is transferred any existing Gaming Permit, whether under the old system or the new system, must also be transferred into the correct name and therefore the local Council should be contacted.