Applying for a
Premises Licence in the UK

Guide to UK Premises Licence Application

If you want to sell alcohol from premises in the UK, you need to apply for and obtain a Premises Licence. This comprehensive guide explains everything you need to know about applying for a new Premises Licence so you can legally sell alcohol in accordance with licensing laws. 

A Premises Licence authorises the licence holder to use premises for “licensable activities” like selling alcohol. Without a valid licence, it is illegal to sell alcohol from a premises. 

Determine if the Premises Needs a Licence to Sell Alcohol

Not all premises require a licence – some activities are exempt. Private dwellings, for example, do not need a licence for small private events.

Check if the activities you want to carry out at the premises are licensable and if any exemptions apply. Selling alcohol to the public will always require a licence.

Premises License

What is a Premises Licence and Why Do You Need One?

The Licensing Act 2003 states that it is illegal to sell alcohol from premises in England and Wales without holding a valid Premises Licence. This applies to businesses like pubs, bars, restaurants, cafes, concert venues, cinemas, hotels and more.

A Premises Licence holder is authorised to sell alcohol during the times specified on the licence, carry out other “licensable activities” and allow the public to consume alcohol on the licenced premises. Licensable activities include:

  • The sale of alcohol by retail
  • The supply of alcohol by or on behalf of a club
  • The provision of regulated entertainment like live music, recorded music, performances of dance or anything similar

The Premises Licence also specifies the licenced hours for alcohol sales and what conditions must be met by the licence holder.

The Critical Importance of Fire Safety

In addition to complying with the Licensing Act 2003, premises selling alcohol must also meet stringent fire safety regulations. This is crucial for public safety.

Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, businesses are legally required to:

  • Conduct a thorough Fire Risk Assessment identifying hazards
  • Implement appropriate fire precautions and management procedures
  • Ensure the premises and equipment comply with fire safety standards
  • Provide staff training on fire risks and responsibilities
  • Carry out fire drills and maintain safety systems/equipment

Failure to comply can result in prosecution, unlimited fines and even imprisonment if found guilty of an offence. Premises may also be forced to close until issues are addressed.

When applying for a Premises Licence, the licensing authority and fire service will thoroughly assess fire safety compliance. All requirements must be met before a licence can be granted.

Complete a Fire Risk Assessment

Before applying for a Premises Licence, you must complete a Fire Risk Assessment for the premises. This is a legal requirement for most public premises under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

A competent fire risk assessor will evaluate potential fire risks at your premises and advise you of any changes needed to comply with fire safety regulations. You can hire a company like Fire Risk Consultancy Services to undertake the Fire Risk Assessment on your behalf.

This assesses factors including:

The assessment will identify risks that must be addressed with appropriate control measures to reduce the risk of fire. Ongoing monitoring and review of fire safety is also required.

Fire Risk Consultancy Services can undertake an in-depth Fire Risk Assessment for your premises. Our experienced consultants help ensure compliance.

Consequences of Non-Compliance

It is critical to fully comply with fire regulations when operating licenced premises. Enforcement action may be taken for breaches, including:

  • Prohibition or restriction of licensable activities
  • Additional licensing conditions imposed
  • Reduction of licenced hours
  • Financial penalties up to £90,000
  • Licence review or suspension
  • Licence revocation

Criminal prosecution can also occur for serious offences potentially leading to imprisonment.

Applying to Vary an Existing Licence

If you already hold a Premises Licence, you can apply to vary it if you want to:

  • Change the name or address of someone specified on the licence
  • Extend your licenced hours for alcohol sales or live music
  • Add or remove licensable activities like recorded music
  • Amend the layout or boundaries of your premises
  • Change conditions on your licence

The process is similar to applying for a new Premises Licence but the consultation period is only 10 working days. You will need to explain why you want to vary the licence.

Applying for a new Premises Licence takes time but is vital to legally sell alcohol in the UK. Follow this guide including completing a Fire Risk Assessment to successfully apply for and obtain your Premises Licence.

Key Takeaways

  • Fire safety is paramount. A detailed Fire Risk Assessment must be completed before applying for a Premises Licence.
  • A Premises Licence issued under the Licensing Act 2003 authorises you to sell alcohol and carry out other licensable activities.
  • Ongoing compliance with fire regulations is legally required and will be enforced by authorities.
  • You need to submit an application to your local licensing authority providing details of the premises and your operating schedule.
  • The licence application must be advertised and there is a 28-day consultation period for objections.
  • If granted, display the licence summary on the premises when carrying out licensable activities.
  • Consider hiring a licensing lawyer and fire safety experts like Fire Risk Consultancy Services to assist with complying with regulations.
  • Failure to meet requirements can have severe consequences including suspension or revocation of your licence.

Fire Risk Consultancy Services offer a range of services, all designed to aid fire safety and awareness. Our expert consultants deliver fire risk assessments, fire safety training, fire safety awareness, fire marshal/warden courses, and fire extinguisher training. Our skills and experience also mean that we can help with fire door surveys and licensing applications. Head over to our fire safety solutions page to learn more about how we can help you today or take a moment to have a look at our Articles on Fire Safety Provisions or Top Fire Safety Tips, all provided to assist your business to comply with legal requirements surrounding fire safety and help keep your staff, clients, and visitors safe.


Most Frequently Asked Questions

An individual, business or organisation can apply for a new Premises Licence if they:

  • Intend to use the premises for licensable activities like selling alcohol
  • Will occupy or have control over the premises specified on the application
  • Have a legal right to occupy the premises and use it for licensable activities

The applicant does not need to own the premises outright, but they must have a legal right to use the premises for the licensable activities outlined in the application. This could include a leaseholder or tenant, for example.

The DPS will be responsible for authorising alcohol sales on the premises and ensuring compliance with the Licensing Act 2003. The DPS must be present at the premises for alcohol sales.

When applying for a Premises Licence, you need to provide:

  • Completed application form
  • Plan of the premises
  • Consent form from the premises supervisor, who must hold a personal licence
  • Application fee

No, selling alcohol without a Premises Licence is illegal in the UK.

To apply for a new Premises Licence, you do not necessarily need to hold a personal licence. However, you do need to specify a Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) who holds a valid personal licence.

If you want to be the DPS and directly authorise alcohol sales yourself, you will need to apply for a personal licence in addition to the Premises Licence.

The application process for a Premises Licence involves the following steps:

  • Complete the application form
  • Submit the form along with the required documents to the licensing authority
  • Inform the relevant responsible authorities about your application
  • Display a notice at the premises and advertise in a local newspaper
  • Wait for the 28-day consultation period
  • Once the licence is granted, pay the licence fee

The licensing objectives are:

  • Prevention of crime and disorder
  • Public safety
  • Prevention of public nuisance
  • Protection of children from harm