1. On-licences

On-licensed premises include pubs, taverns, hotels, restaurants, cafés and bars, entertainment venues, and conveyances such as trains, planes, and ferries etc. An on-licence allows the sale and supply of alcohol for consumption on the premises.

There are also on-licences whereby customers can bring their own (BYO) alcohol to consume on the premises. However, the alcohol content of the beverage should not be more than 14.33% (i.e. you cannot bring a bottle of vodka (37.5% alcohol) to a BYO restaurant). BYO premises can also sell and supply other alcohol for consumption in the restaurant by any person who is there to dine. There are also on-licences for caterers.

Requirements for on-licences

All on-licences must:

Other conditions can be placed on an on-licence by the District Licensing Committee. Read the section of the law here.

On-licence hours

If your Local Council has not yet adopted a Local Alcohol Policy, then the default maximum national hours permitted for trading are 8am to 4am.

Entry of minors

Some licensed premises are designated as restricted areas, which means that young people are not allowed to enter. Others may be designated as supervised areas, which young people can enter if they are accompanied by a legal parent or guardian. See the young people section for more information.

Supply of alcohol to minors (under 18 years) (e.g. bars, restaurants)

At on-licensed premises that minors are permitted to enter, minors can only be supplied with alcohol if:

  1. The minor is accompanied by his or her parent or guardian; and
  2. the alcohol is supplied by his or her parent or guardian.

Minors are not permitted to buy alcohol. A guardian to a minor is a person who is considered as a guardian according to the Care of Children Act 2004. See the young people section for more information.

Intoxication in on-licence premises

It is illegal for on-licences to serve someone who is intoxicated. It is also against the law to allow someone who is intoxicated to remain on the premises.

Someone is intoxicated when showing two or more of the following signs, after consuming alcohol, other drugs or substances. The Health Promotion Agency has created an easy way for people to remember – S C A B

  • Speech is impaired
  • Coordination is impaired
  • Appearance is affected
  • Behaviour is impaired

For more information, see the definition of intoxication in section 5 of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.

On-licence promotions

It is against the law for on-licences to do anything that encourages people, or is likely to encourage people, to consume alcohol to an excessive extent.

It is also against the law for on-licences to:

  • Promote or advertise discounts on alcohol of 25% or more that can be seen or heard from the outside of the premises;
    • This section does not include promotions at/in the licensed premises
    • This section does not include promotions in a catalogue or similar price list of an on-licence
  • Promote or advertise free alcohol except for promotion inside the premises that cannot be viewed from outside and do not encourage excessive consumption;
  • Offer any goods or services or the opportunity to win a prize when purchasing alcohol;
  • Promote or advertise alcohol in a way that aimed at or is likely to have special appeal to young people aged under 18.

For more information go to the promotion section of this website, or check out the tools below.

National guidance on alcohol promotions – On-licensed premises (Health Promotion Agency)

Host responsibility for Licensed Premises (Health Promotion Agency)

The Manager’s Guide 2014 (Health Promotion Agency)