Selling alcohol in licensed premises and registered clubs
In Northern Ireland, you can only sell alcohol in licensed premises and supply alcohol to members and guests in registered clubs. To sell alcohol to the public or supply alcohol to members and guests, you need to apply to a County Court for a licence or a Certificate of Registration.
A guide to changes made to the Licensing (NI) Order 1996 and the Registration of Clubs (NI) Order 1996 is on the Department for Communities website..
Legislation controls the sale of alcohol to the public in different licensed premises. The County Court is responsible for issuing liquor licences in their area.
There are different licensing conditions attached to each type of premises. The premises are:
- guest houses
- conference centres
- higher education institutions
- places of public entertainment (cinemas, theatres, ballrooms, race tracks)
- refreshment rooms in public transport premises (railway or bus stations, airports and harbours)
- seamen’s canteens
- indoor arenas
- outdoor stadia
- non-seagoing vessels
- local producer's premises
Applying for a liquor licence
To sell alcohol, you must apply to the local County Court for a liquor licence and pay an application fee. The court grants a licence for a licensing period.
For alcohol licensing fees, go to section three in the list of County Court fees:
The court can grant a licence for up to five years. Before the court can grant a licence, you need to show that certain conditions are met:
- you are fit to hold a licence
- the premises are suitable for selling alcohol
Off-licence or pub licence
When applying for an off-licence or pub licence, you must give up an existing licence for either an off-licence or pub to the court.
The court won't grant a licence if they think the area has enough pubs or off-licences.
Renewing a licence to sell alcohol
If you have a licence to sell alcohol, you must renew your licence when the licensing period expires. The current five year licensing period ends on 30 September 2027.
If your licence has been granted for a period lesser that the current licensing period, renewal applications must be submitted to the magistrates’ court by 9 August in the year your licence is due to run out.
It is an offence to sell alcohol without a current licence.
A private members club needs a certificate of registration to supply alcohol to members and guests. The club must apply to the County Court for a certificate and pay an application fee.
A court can grant a certificate of registration for up to five years. The current five year registration period ends on 31 March 2028.
Before the court grants a certificate of registration, it must be satisfied the club will be run honestly and in good faith.
For club registration fees, go to section three in the list of County Court fees:
Renewing a certificate of registration to supply alcohol
If a club has a certificate of registration to supply alcohol to members and guests, they must apply to a magistrates' court when their certificate of registration expires.
Renewal applications must be submitted to the magistrates’ court not less than four weeks before the renewal date of 1 March in the year your registration is due to run out.
It's an offence for a club to sell alcohol to members and guests without a current certificate of registration.