Liquor licences

What is a liquor licence?

Sale of alcohol to the public requires the seller to have a liquor licence. There are four types of licence:

  • On-licence (eg, pub, restaurant, cafe, bar)

  • Off-licence (eg, bottle store, supermarket)

  • Club licence (eg, sports club, RSA, working men's club)

  • Special licence (eg, for a food and wine festival, wedding in a council hall etc.).

An on-licence, off-licence, or club licence is granted initially for one year and then can be renewed every three years. Special licences are granted per event or for a series of events.

What does a liquor licence allow?

It allows the licensee to sell alcohol according to the conditions of the licence.
Conditions cover such things as:

  • who alcohol can be sold to

  • the hours and days alcohol can be sold

  • who is allowed on the premises

  • the range of food, non-alcohol and low-alcohol drinks to be provided

  • provision of information about alternative transport arrangements.

It is against the law for a licensee or their staff to sell alcohol to anyone who is intoxicated, to allow a person to become intoxicated, or serve alcohol to anyone under the age of 18 years. There are heavy penalties for these offences.


If you're working in the alcohol industry as a licensee, manager or bar staff, we have plenty of useful resources as well as general information you may find handy.