Alcohol licences

Who needs an alcohol licence?

If you are selling or supplying alcohol to the public, you need to get a liquor licence.

There are four types of licence:

  • on-licence (eg, pub, restaurant, cafe, bar, including BYO)
  • 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, or concert).

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.

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.

The regulatory agencies may object to the issue of a licence if there are concerns about alcohol related harm.  A member of the public may also object if they can show that they have a special interest in the application.  District Licensing Committees make the final decision about licence applications. 

Visit the Health Promotion Agency’s for more information about alcohol licensing.

If you want to apply for an alcohol licence or ask about an existing licence, you should contact your local council.

Find contact details for your local council.