Licensing Act 2003

Businesses, organisations and individuals who want to sell or supply alcohol in England and Wales must have a licence or other authorisation from a licensing authority - usually a local council. The law and policy governing this area is overseen by the Home Office.

Information on the different types of alcohol licences available and guidance on how to apply for them can be found by clicking here.


View the latest licensing applications

An online register of licences issued by Wirral Council can be accessed here


Annual Fees for existing Premises Licences and Club Premises Certificates can be paid online by clicking on the relevant link below:

Premises Licence Annual Fee Payment

Club Premises Certificate Annual Fee Payment

What do I need a licence for?

You need to obtain a licence for the following activities:

  • To sell alcohol by retail
  • If you are a qualifying club, to supply alcohol to a club member, or to sell alcohol to a guest of a club member
  • To provide regulated entertainment
  • To sell late night refreshment - selling hot food or drink between 11.00pm and 5.00am for consumption on or off the premises


Mandatory Licensing Condtitions

The Licensing Act 2003 (Mandatory Licensing Conditions) Order 2010 introduced conditions that apply to all relevant premises in England and Wales. They apply to all licensed premises and those with a club premises certificate in England and Wales. Further information and guidance about the mandatory conditions can be found here.



What is regulated entertainment?

The following kinds of entertainment are subject to regulation:

  1. Plays
  2. Film exhibitions
  3. Indoor sporting events
  4. Boxing or wrestling exhibitions
  5. Live music (karaoke included)
  6. Recorded music
  7. Dancing by the public or performers
  8. Any entertainment similar to that described in 5, 6 or 7 above.


What about providing entertainment facilities?

You still need a licence for regulated entertainment, even if you are just providing facilities for making music, dancing, or entertainment of a similar description.

This means, for example, that you require a licence for:

  • Having a dance floor on the premises
  • Providing a video jukebox


When is a licence not required for regulated entertainment?

  • Films which are solely or mainly to demonstrate a product, advertise goods or services, or provide information, education or instruction
  • Films as part of an exhibition in a museum or gallery
  • TV and radio broadcasts, providing they are “live” and not recorded
  • Religious meetings or services
  • Entertainment in places of public religious worship
  • Garden fetes (unless held for private gain)
  • Entertainment provided in a moving vehicle
  • Morris dancing
  • Incidental entertainment


What does “incidental entertainment” mean?

Consent for regulated entertainment is not needed when the entertainment is provided for background entertainment. This is sometimes a difficult area and if you are unsure you should contact us for advice. Examples of “incidental” entertainment are:

  • a supermarket playing background music (people go there to shop - the music is not an influencing factor)
  • music during keep fit classes (people are there to exercise)
  • salsa dance classes (people are there to learn to dance)
  • a pub juke box playing in the background.


Late Night Refreshment

“Late Night Refreshment” is the supply of hot food or hot drink to the public, for consumption on or off the premises, between 11.00pm and 5.00am. It includes takeaways, cafés, fast food outlets and mobile catering vehicles. Premises that provide late night refreshment need to hold a Premises Licence.

The Government believes it is necessary to protect local residents because premises which serve late night refreshment can be used by customers who may have been drinking at other premises earlier in the evening, thereby creating the potential for disorder on and near the premises.

Also, because large numbers of customers may gather at places serving late night refreshments, there is a potential for nuisance and disturbance for local residents.

The regulation of late night refreshment will tackle these issues and allow residents and other interested parties and responsible authorities to make representations about new, and seek reviews of existing licences where they are concerned that the licensing objectives will be or have been affected. If a supermarket or other business premises (i.e. garage) heats food or drink for customers between 11.00pm and 5.00am, or provides facilities for customers to heat food or drink above the ambient temperature, a premises licence is required. However, if the business is selling only cold food and drink, and not providing facilities to heat it, a premises licence is not required.


Are there exemptions for the requirement to obtain consent for late night refreshment?

The following are exempt from requiring a Premises Licences for the provision of late night refreshment:

  • Alcoholic hot drinks or hot drinks containing alcohol (although consent to sell alcohol will still be required)
  • Hot drinks distributed by a machine that is operated solely by the customer
  • Hot food or hot drink supplied free of charge, where there is also no charge for admission to any premises, or for some other item to obtain the hot food or hot drink
  • Hot food or hot drink supplied by a registered charity or by a person authorised by a registered charity (i.e. a charity which is registered under the Charities Act 1993 or a charity not required by the Charities Act 1993 to be registered)
  • Hot food or hot drink supplied to hotel and bed and breakfast guests


What about one off events and special occasions?

If you are holding a licensable activity that falls in to one of the following categories:

  • Less than 500 people attending
  • Lasting for not more than 168 hours, with a break of at least 24 hours thereafter

You can hold your event by submitting a Temporary Event Notice (TEN) to the Council.

This notice allows you to hold a licensable activity on premises that are not currently licensed, or to hold activities your existing licence does not permit. This would include for example:

  • Selling alcohol at a school fete
  • Providing regulated entertainment at a pub where the current licence does not permit this
  • Staying open to sell hot food in to the night on a special occasion (e.g. New Years Eve)
  • Selling alcohol after the hours your normal licence permits, e.g. for a special occasion
  • An amateur dramatics group putting on a play in unlicensed premises.


Are there any restrictions on TENs?

  • You can only have up to 50 TENs a year if you are a Personal Licence Holder (see section below on Personal Licences)
  • You can only have up to five TENs a year if you are not a Personal Licence Holder
  • You must be aged 18 or over
  • Restrictions apply where the applicant is an “associated person” of someone who has already given a TEN, including spouses, close relations, agents and employees, and their spouses. The word “spouse” also includes someone living with the notice given
  • There can only be a maximum of 12 TENs a year for any particular premises, subject to an overall limit of no more than 21 days in total (e.g. where the TEN lasts for more than one day).

If your event/activity falls outside these restrictions, you will require a full Premises Licence. If the number of TENs you seek in a year exceeds the limits above, the Licensing Authority must serve a counter notice prohibiting the event from going ahead. This must be served at least 24 hours before the event.

You must send a copy of your application to the Police and Environmental Health. They can only object if they feel your event would undermine any of the four licensing objectives. If they do object, a public hearing will be heard in front of a Licensing sub-committee to determine your application (unless all parties can agree a hearing is unnecessary).

The sub-committee will listen to evidence from both sides before deciding the event can go ahead. However, Government guidance advises that permission in these circumstances be refused unless there are exceptional reasons not to refuse.


Personal Licences

All sales of alcohol must be made by, or under the authority of, a Personal Licence Holder. Not everyone who makes a sale has to hold a Personal Licence, so long as a Personal Licence Holder has authorised the sale. You must apply for your Personal Licence to the Council in whose district you live.


Do I always need a personal licence?

This does not apply to Qualifying Clubs or premises operating under a Temporary Event Notice. You can have as many Personal Licence Holders on the premises as you wish, providing there is only one Designated Premises Supervisor (see below). You can also choose to become a Personal Licence Holder if you wish to apply for more than five TEN’s a year, but otherwise would not require one.


Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS)

Additionally, all premises operating under a Premises Licence to sell or supply alcohol must appoint a Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) for the premises. There can only be one DPS per premises. The DPS will be held as the person in overall charge of the premises. You should therefore choose this person with care.

You have to nominate the DPS on your application form. This person does not have to be on the premises at all times, but they must take responsibility for what happens there. This means the DPS should ensure any staff they appoint are appropriately trained in the requirements of the Licensing Act 2003 and aware of any specific conditions attached to the Premises Licence. A person cannot become a DPS unless they are also a Personal Licence Holder.

Please note – although qualifying clubs don’t need a DPS to sell alcohol to members and their guests, this exemption does not apply if you hire the premises out for wedding receptions and the like. You do need a full Premises Licence for these activities (unless you are only holding a small number of events, which you can hold under a TEN) and therefore you will need to appoint a DPS.

All applications, notices and representations shall be in writing. E-mail may be used in respect of representations, but applications will need to be accompanied by plans and the fee, so will need to be in writing.

The information in this guidance was accurate when produced, but you are always advised to seek your own legal advice should you have any queries.


How do I report a problem?

Report a concern about:

  • an application
  • an issued licence
  • a registered premises