Alcohol licences

Who needs an alcohol licence?

If you are selling alcohol to the public, you need to get a liquor licence. There are four types of licence:

  • on-licence (eg, pub, restaurant, cafe, bar)
  • off-licence (eg, bottle store, supermarket)
  • club licence (eg, sports club, RSA, working men's club)
  • special licence (eg, for a food and wine festival, wedding in a council hall etc).

Each licence has specific conditions that include:

  • who alcohol can be sold to
  • the hours and days alcohol can be sold
  • who is allowed on the premises
  • the range of food, non-alcohol and low-alcohol drinks to be provided
  • provision of information about alternative transport arrangements.

It is against the law for a licensee or their staff to sell alcohol to anyone who is intoxicated, to allow a person to become intoxicated or serve alcohol to anyone under the age of 18 years. There are heavy penalties for these offences.

Local council consent

District Licensing Committees (DLCs) make decisions about alcohol licences.

If a local city or district council’s district plan allows for a licensee to operate in a particular location, the would-be licensee must then apply for a licence.

If there is no opposition, the DLC makes a decision. Objections to licence applications are forwarded to the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority (ARLA) in Wellington, who then investigate and make decisions on them.

Visit the ALAC section of the Health Promotion Agency's website for more information about liquor licences.