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Permits, Food, Licensing
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Special Licence

This licence is only valid for the timeframe permitted by the special licence. It can apply to a property, location or conveyance (e.g. boat or train).

The special licence holder must control the liquor at the event and ensure statutory responsibilities are observed. This cannot be achieved if guests bring their own liquor therefore special licences do not permit BYO functions.

When is a special licence needed?

You can take a bottle of wine to the beach or park for a picnic and consume it on public property without the need for a liquor licence. It is only when you book public property for a function, and it is cordoned off or under cover, eg a marquee or band rotunda, that you must apply for a special licence for the sale or supply of liquor.

A special licence is required if liquor is sold or supplied to any people attending any "particular" occasion or event or series of occasions or events. It is required at any function where:

  • no on licence or club licence exists
  • the caterer does not have an endorsed off licence
  • there are non-club members present on club licensed premises
  • the function is outside the hours or area authorised on an existing on licence or club licence

Examples of these functions include birthdays, weddings, social gatherings, client functions and other temporary bar set-ups.

Examples of a series of 'one-off' functions would be:

  • a three day event where you may wish to sell or supply liquor, and will be required to apply for one special licence for a series of days
  • a social club that holds drinks on the last Friday of each month can apply for all of these Fridays on the one special licence application
  • you can apply 12 months in advance for these occasions/events if the event dates are known
  • the event MUST be held on the same premises

 You are not required to hold a special licence

  • if you are supplying liquor to your guests in your own private residence
  • if your guests are bringing liquor to your own private residence

Applying for a special licence

Special licences cannot be renewed. However, if you know the dates of future events to be held at the same venue, you can obtain a special licence for future events on the one application.

  • There is an application fee structure for a special licenses based on the level of associated risk (how many people attend etc). This fee is non-refundable
  • if you do not own the premises, the owner's consent must be included with the application
  • a floor plan of the premises must be included in the application
  • the minimum processing time for an application for a special licence is 20 working days
  • the company or person taking the profit from the sale of liquor should be the applicant.
  • you must be 20 years or older to apply.

The processing time includes a period of 20 working days required by the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 for the Police and District Health Board staff to supply reports. Controversial applications or profit oriented commercial applications may need to be advertised through a public notice. Consequently, additional time is required to process these. In these cases 40 working days notice may be required.

If you are applying for a special licence, you need to provide all the required information when you lodge the application to avoid a delay in processing.

The special licence application forms and guidelines provide details on the information you are required to provide.

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