Selling alcohol in licensed premises and registered clubs

In Northern Ireland, you can only sell alcohol in licensed premises and registered clubs. To sell alcohol, you need to apply to a County Court for a licence. There are 13 types of premises eligible to hold a licence to sell alcohol to the public.

Liquor licence

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.

Licensed premises

There are different licensing conditions attached to each type of premises. The premises are:

  • pubs
  • off-licences
  • hotels
  • guest houses
  • restaurants
  • conference centres
  • higher education institutions
  • places of public entertainment (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

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 the existing licence for the premises 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. You need to apply to the magistrate's court to renew your licence.

It is an offence to sell alcohol without a current licence. 

Registered clubs

A private members club needs a certificate of registration to sell 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. Before the court grants a certificate of registration to a club,  they must show they'll run the club honestly and in good faith.

For club registration fees, go to section three  in the list of County Court fees:

Renewing a certificate to sell alcohol

If a club has a certificate to sell alcohol, they must apply to a magistrate's court when their registration expires. 

It's an offence for a club to sell alcohol to members and guests without a current certificate of registration. 

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