Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about alcohol

Find answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about alcohol.

Alcohol licensing and sales - FAQs
I need an alcohol licence.
What should I do?

Contact your local council and ask for ‘alcohol licensing’. Councils are responsible for processing alcohol licence applications.

Find information on this website about applying for an alcohol licence or download an information booklet (PDF, 952KB)

I want to sell alcohol online.
What do I need to do?

Read HPA’s information resource - National guidance on remote sales of alcohol (PDF, 141KB).

If you have further questions, contact to your local council and ask for ‘alcohol licensing’.

I want to import alcohol.
What do I need to do?
Contact the New Zealand Customs Service on 0800 428 786 or go to their website.
I want to manufacture alcohol.
Who should I contact?
Contact the New Zealand Customs Service on 0800 428 786 or go to their website.
I am hiring a hall for a function (birthday party, wedding anniversary) and want to serve alcohol.
Do I need a licence?
You may need a licence. Contact your local council and ask for ‘alcohol licensing’. Council staff will tell you if you need a licence and what to do.
I am organising after works drinks or a works party.
Do I need a licence?

In some cases, you may need a licence. Contact your local council and ask for ‘alcohol licensing’. Council staff will tell you if you need a licence and what to do.

Find information on this website about managing alcohol in the workplace or download an information booklet about licensing (PDF, 141KB).

What is the maximum strength alcohol beverage that can be sold?

The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act does not set a maximum strength alcohol beverage above which alcohol may not be sold. However, it does state that alcohol beverages must not be served in a way that may cause excessive consumption which may lead to intoxication.

Find information on this website about host responsibility in licensed premises or download a host responsibility guideline booklet (PDF, 1.62MB).

What is the maximum size container that spirits can be sold or supplied in?

The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act states that licensed premises cannot sell or supply spirits in any container exceeding 500 ml. A Manager or licensee or bar staff could be fined $2000 if they do.

You can sell or supply beer in a jug.

Can I take my bottle of wine home from a bar or restaurant if there is some wine left?

If the bar or restaurant allows BYO and you took the wine or beer to the premises then you can take any leftover drink with you, provided it is sealed in its container.

If you purchased the alcohol from the bar or restaurant then you cannot take leftover drink with you. 

Does a bar or restaurant have to provide free drinking water?

Yes - it is required by law. Drinking water must be freely available at all times, with clean drinking vessels.

If you want more information, contact your local council and ask for ‘alcohol licensing’.

How do I get a Manager’s licence or Manager’s certificate? Contact your local council and ask for ‘alcohol licensing’. Council staff will help you.
How do I get a Licence Controller Qualification (LCQ)?

Contact Service IQ on 0800 863 693 or go to the Service IQ website.

Find a list of local LCQ training providers on their website - here.

Alcohol as gifts and in raffles - FAQs
Can I offer alcohol as a gift or as a general giveaway in a licensed premise?

The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act states that you can only do this inside premises licensed to sell alcohol.

For more information, download National guidance on alcohol promotions in on-licensed premises (PDF, 157KB).

If you have further questions, contact your local council and ask for ‘alcohol licensing’.

Can I put a bottle of wine in a gift basket or food hamper which I sell online?

You can but you will need an alcohol licence.

Read HPA’s information resource - National guidance on remote sales of alcohol (PDF, 141KB).

If you have further questions, contact your local council and ask for ‘alcohol licensing’. Councils are responsible for processing alcohol licence applications.

Can I raffle alcohol for a fundraising event?

No. Under the Gambling Act 2003 it is an offence to offer alcohol as a prize for gambling activities, such as a raffle, sweepstake or prize competition.

For more information about prohibited prizes, go to the Department of Internal Affairs’ website.

Can I offer my customers/visitors (eg at hairdressers, B&Bs, charter boats) a complimentary alcoholic drink?

You may need an alcohol licence.

Contact your local council and ask for ‘alcohol licensing’. Council staff will tell you if you need a licence and what to do.

Alcohol and minors (under 18 year olds) - FAQs
I am over 18 but I was unable to buy alcohol in a supermarket (or bottle store) because my friend who is under 18 was with me. Why did this happen? The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act states that it is an offence for someone to sell alcohol to a person over the age of 18 who has a minor with them and that they believe may supply the alcohol to that minor, unless the person purchasing the alcohol is their parent or legal guardian.
Can minors (under-18s) work in licensed premises, including selling and serving alcohol? What work a person under 18 years can be employed to do depends on the type (or designated areas) of a licensed premises. They can be employed to sell and serve alcohol in some types (or designated areas) of licensed premises but not others.  Find information on this website about under-18s in designated areas of licensed premises.
Making a complaint or an objection - FAQs
How do I object to a licensed premises opening or renewal of a licence?

Contact your local council and ask for ‘alcohol licensing’. Council staff can tell you what to do.

Find information on this website about objecting to a licence or download or order an information booklet about objecting to a licence (PDF, 311KB).

I have a complaint about alcohol sales at a licensed premises (eg bar, restaurant, club, bottle store or supermarket). What do I do? Contact your local council and ask for ‘alcohol licensing’. They will investigate.
I am concerned about some alcohol advertising (TV, radio, billboard, etc). What can I do? Find information on this website about how to make a complaint about alcohol advertising.
Proof of age and accepted ID - FAQs
What are the acceptable forms of age verification to purchase alcohol?

The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act states that only approved forms of age verification identification (ID) are:

  • a current passport
  • a current New Zealand driver licence; or
  • a current Hospitality NZ 18+ Card Evidence of Age Document.

Find more information on this website about approved ID and how to apply for a Hospitality NZ 18+ Card.

Can I use an overseas driver licence to prove my age? No. The law states that only a current New Zealand driver licence can be accepted as an approved form of ID. However, you can use your current overseas passport or a Hospitality NZ 18+ Card. Find more information on this website about approved ID and how to apply for a Hospitality NZ 18+ Card.
Can I use an expired driver’s licence or an expired passport to prove my age? The law states that approved forms of ID must be current.
Alcohol and driving - FAQs
How much can I drink and still drive? Our advice is simple. If you are going to drink alcohol, then don’t drive. Find more information on this website about drinking alcohol and driving.
What are New Zealand’s drink driving limits?

The legal drink drive limit for drivers under 20 years of age is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of zero.

The legal drink drive limits for drivers 20 years and over are a breath alcohol limit of 250 micrograms (mcg) of alcohol per litre of breath and a blood alcohol limit of 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

Find more information on this website about drinking alcohol and driving.

Other FAQs
I am having problems completing ServeWise or have a general enquiry about the ServeWise training. Please email support@hpa.org.nz
How do I order HPA’s resources? You can order print resources from HPA’s resource ordering website.