Applying for a licence

If you want to apply for an alcohol licence or ask about an existing licence, you should contact your local council.

Find contact details for your local council.


This guide is a useful resource for people applying for any type of new or renewed licence. It provides information about the application and hearings process under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.

Guide to applying a licence to sell or supply alcohol (PDF, 952KB)

What are the criteria for assessing applications?

District Licensing Committees (DLCs) consider all applications for licences in each territorial authority. 

Both contested and uncontested applications are considered by a local DLC. A DLC can transfer an application to the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority (ARLA) for a decision if the chair of ARLA agrees.

When deciding whether to issue a licence, the DLC (or ARLA) must have regard to:

  • the object of the Act
  • the suitability of the applicant
  • any relevant local alcohol policy
  • the days and hours of sale
  • the design and layout of premises
  • the sale of goods other than alcohol and refreshments
  • the provision of other services not related to the sale of alcohol and refreshments
  • whether amenity and good order of the area would be substantially reduced
  • the undesirability of further licences where amenity and good order have already been reduced
  • whether the applicant has systems, staff and training to comply with the law
  • any matters reported by the Police, an inspector or the Medical Officer of Health.

Further information on criteria

The decision makers cannot take into account the impacts of the licence on business conducted under any other licence or other matters not covered by the criteria.

Note: District Plan consent requirements must be met before a licence is applied for.

Who can object?

People can object on the basis of any of the licensing criteria in the new Act. Objections to the granting of a licence may only be made if the objector has a greater interest than the general public.

A person with a ‘greater interest’ could, for example, be someone living or working in the same street as the proposed premises, or a member of a board of trustees of a school or marae that is located nearby.

A member of the public who is concerned about the general effects of alcohol in the community but who lives in another part of town and does not have a special interest in the application is unlikely to meet the criterion of having ‘greater interest’ than the general public.

What are the grounds for objection?

An objection can be made based on (but only on) any of the criteria in the Act. The decision makers cannot take into account the impacts of the licence on business conducted under any other licence or other matters not covered by the criteria.

Who decides whether a licence will be granted or renewed?

The bodies that make decisions about licences are:

  • District Licensing Committees (DLCs), which are administered by your local territorial authority, consider all licence applications. For more information
  • Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority (ARLA) is the national decision making body for licensing and deals with matters referred to it by a DLC, as well as appeals against decisions of DLCs. For more information on ARLA 

The following people also have input into the licensing process:

  • Inspectors work for each territorial authority but act independently to enforce the Act, monitor licences and advise the DLC and ARLA on applications. Inspectors must provide a report to on each licence application.
  • The Medical Officer of Health is located in the local district health board. Medical Officers of Health must inquire into the application and may provide a report on a licence application.
  • Local police must inquire into the application and may provide a report on a licence application.

How is the licensing decision made?

When you apply for a licence, you need to complete the required form, which is available from your local territorial authority. You will need to pay the appropriate risk-based fees (which will be set by regulation or bylaw) when you lodge your application. You will receive an acknowledgement of your application and may be contacted by a licensing inspector to discuss your application. You will also receive a copy of any objection.

Copies of your application and any objections are also sent to the Police, Medical Officer of Health and licensing inspector for investigation and reporting.

The DLC will consider and issue all licences and licence renewals. Provision is made for applications to be referred to ARLA for a decision but the Chair of ARLA must give leave for this to happen. If there are no objections the application may be granted without a public hearing. If there are objections a public hearing will be held unless the objection is deemed vexatious or the applicant does not require a hearing.

How do I appeal a decision?

If you disagree with the DLC’s decision you can appeal to ARLA. Appeals against ARLA decisions are dealt with by way of a rehearing. You need to give a notice of appeal to ARLA within 10 working days of the date of the decision being notified to you.

There is a cost for filing an appeal. For more information on appeals