Role of key authorities and agencies

You will often hear about a number of different agencies involved in alcohol licensing. There are a range of agencies or bodies involved in the licence application process, decision making on applications, and enforcement of licence conditions.

You will often hear about two levels of decision-making on licence applications; 1) the District Licensing Committee and 2) the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority.


District Licensing Committee

Commonly known as the DLC, this is the local body which makes the decisions regarding local licence applications. The core functions of the DLC are to consider and determine matters within the district they serve, such as:

  • Applications of licences and manager’s certificate;
  • Temporary authority applications (on/off licences);
  • Variation, suspension and cancellation of special licences;
  • Referral of applications to the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority (ARLA);
  • Conduct inquiries and provision of report required by ARLA;
  • Other functions conferred on it by any Act.

The Local council appoints the members of the DLC, which comprises of a chair and two other members.

Normally, DLC members serve a five-year term. Large councils may set up more than one DLC, depending on population size they serve. Smaller councils may also share a DLC with a neighbouring council. Your local council is required to publish a list of their DLC members to the public.

Please check out the following pages for more information: 

  • Visit Local Government NZ to find your local council - including relevant information on alcohol licensing and DLCs in your local council. 
  • More details information about DLCs on the website of Health Promotion Agency, please click here
  • Section 186-192 of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act –District Licensing Committees, please click here

Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority

Commonly known as ARLA, this body sits within the Ministry of Justice. They are a national body set up to ensure the Act is consistently and fairly applied by the District Licensing Committees (DLCs). Key statutory functions of ARLA are to consider and determine the following:

  • Matters referred by DLCs, e.g. application for licences or renewed licences and applications for manager’s certificates;
  • Appeals from decisions of DLCs;
  • Appeals against elements of Provisional Local Alcohol Policies;
  • Applications by inspectors and police constables for the variation, suspension, or cancellation of licences and manager’s certificates; and
  • Any other functions conferred on it by or under this Act or any other enactment.

In addition, ARLA provides guidance to DLCs by issuing practice notes, guidelines or suggestions.

ARLA comprises of up to three District Court judges and any number of other members. Currently, there is only one judge.

You can contact ARLA at ARLA@justice.govt.nz or 04 4626660.


Please check out the following pages for more information: 

  • If you are considering whether to object to a licence application, please visit our section on Objecting to a Liquor Licence
  • Find out the decisions made by ARLA, please click here
  • Section 169-185 of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act – Alcohol Regulatory Licensing Authority , please click here

The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 requires that the NZ Police, Licensing Inspector of local council and Medical Officer of Health to work together in the licence application process.

These three regulatory agencies play a key role in alcohol licensing in our country. They are also required to be consulted during the development of a Draft Local Alcohol Policy .

When a licence application is made, the three agencies need to inquire into licence applications and determine whether it meets the criteria of the Act. In most cases, they provide a report on a licence application (although there are different requirements for special licences). All reports are sent to the Council, and there are timelines around this, please click here for a flowchart of the licensing process. 

The three regulatory agencies have the duty to work together in order to:

  • Ensure ongoing monitoring of licences and enforcement of the Act; and
  • Develop and implement strategies for reducing alcohol-related harm.

Both NZ Police and Council licensing inspectors have the power to enter and inspect licensed premises. Maori wardens can also enter premises.

Click here for a factsheet  - Key statutory roles of the three regulatory agencies


Please visit the following pages for more information: