4. Special licence (for concerts, large events, special occasions, etc)

A special licence allows the sale or supply of alcohol to anyone attending an event, private function, street party, sporting event, etc. Special licences can be either ‘on-site’ for consumption on the premises, or ‘off-site’ for consumption elsewhere. Generally speaking, these licences relate to events where alcohol is sold (e.g. included in the ticket price, etc).

Applications for a special licence are also required to be publicly notified. This means placing a notice “in a conspicuous place on or adjacent to the site which the application relates”.

Applications for special licences must be submitted at least 20 working days prior to the event.

The licensing authority or licensing committee must consult with the Police and Medical Officer of Health before approving any special licence application. The Police and the licensing committee may require the applicants to put in place some preventative measures before granting the special licences, on a case-by-case approach.

The law does not specify the number of days the public has to object to special licences. Normally, regulatory agencies will set some conditions before granting the applicants a special licence. As well as determining their trading hours, the regulatory agencies may impose conditions such as the number of alcoholic drinks per purchase and/or what types of alcoholic beverages are allowed. In your objection letter, you may ask the DLC to impose conditions for the special event.

Applying for a licence to sell or supply alcohol: A guide to applications and hearings 

Requirements for special licences

All special licences must:

  • have non-alcoholic drinks and low-alcoholic drinks (2.5% ethanol by volume) available for sale.
  • Have a range of food available for sale at a reasonable price and provided within a reasonable time.
  • provide information about alternative transportation options from the premises or event location.

Other conditions can be placed on a special licence by the District Licensing Committee.

Large-scale events may be subject to additional requirements, such as a management plan, sign off from council under the resource management act and the building code, and to liaise with Police

Special licence hours

The national maximum trading hours are 8am to 4am the following day for on-licences, but special licences can exceed these hours, or the hours that a premise is usually licenced for.  However, a special licence cannot be granted for hours exceeding those permitted for special licences in a relevant local alcohol policy.

Supply of alcohol to minors (under 18 years)

At an event or premises with a special licence, 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.

Entry of minors

Some events or premises with special licences will be designated as restricted areas, which means that young people may not 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.

Intoxication at events or premises with a special licence

It is illegal for a special licence to serve someone who is intoxicated or 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.