Under the Licensing Act 2003, every sale of alcohol from licensed premises in England and Wales must be authorised by a personal licence holder.
The following guide looks at the eligibility criteria when making a personal licence application, as well as some of the practical challenges you might face when applying for a personal alcohol licence.
What are the eligibility criteria for a personal licence application?
The personal licence application is designed to ensure that successful applicants have the necessary skills and qualifications when authorising the sale of alcohol to be able to operate safely and responsibly within the confines of the law.
You will be granted a personal alcohol licence by the licensing authority if you satisfy the following criteria:
- You are aged 18 or over.
- You are entitled to work in the UK and are not subject to a condition preventing you from carrying on of a licensable activity, including the sale and supply of alcohol.
- You hold a relevant licensing qualification, such as the BIIAB Level 2 Personal Licence Holders Award, or similar accredited qualification.
- You have not held a personal licence that has been forfeited within the last 5 years of the date of your application.
- You have not been convicted of a relevant or foreign offence, including breach of licensing laws, or been required to pay a civil immigration penalty. A relevant offence includes any offence under the 2003 Act, as well as offences of dishonesty, firearm or drug-related offences.
In the event that you fail to meet the first four conditions, your personal licence application will be rejected. Having a criminal record, however, does not rule you out from making an application.
If you meet all the other conditions but have an unspent conviction, the licensing authority will notify the chief officer of the police for your local area to see if any objections will be raised on the basis of crime prevention grounds.
Where objections are raised, unless all parties agree it is unnecessary, the authority will hold a hearing to consider whether or not your personal licence application should be rejected.
Where no such objections are raised within a period of 14 days, the licensing authority must grant your application.
To whom do I make a personal licence application?
When making your personal licence application, you must do so to the licensing authority in the area in which you are ordinarily resident. If you are not “ordinarily resident” in a particular area, you may apply for the grant of a personal licence to any licensing authority in England and Wales.
Once granted, the issuing licensing authority will remain the relevant licensing authority, even if you move away or take employment elsewhere.
You may not make another personal licence application unless and until any initial application has been determined by the licensing authority, or has been withdrawn. You may only hold one personal licence at any one time.
How do I obtain an accredited licensing qualification?
Prior to making your personal licence application, you must first obtain a suitable accredited licensing qualification. The aim of the qualification is to ensure that all licence holders are aware of the legal and social responsibilities involved in the sale of alcohol.
The Level 2 Award for Personal Licence Holders is a one-day training course, assessed by way of a multiple-choice exam. The course covers topics such as unauthorised licensable activities, police powers and rights of entry, as well as the effects of alcohol on the human body.
It may be advisable, however, to first obtain your DBS check prior to investing any time and money in obtaining the necessary licensing qualification.
Do I need a DBS check for a personal licence application?
When making a personal licence application, you will need to undergo what’s known as a Disclosure and Barring Service check, or DBS check.
Previously known as a CRB check, this provides a record of any unspent convictions that may be relevant to your application. Needless to say, any relevant unspent convictions may negatively impact on whether or not you are found to be suitable as a personal licence holder.
You will also need to declare to the licensing authority any relevant criminal convictions and civil immigration penalties using a disclosure of convictions & declaration form.
What documents must I provide with my personal licence application?
When making a personal licence application you will need to submit the following documentation:
- Your personal licence application form. This can be obtained from the licensing section on the website of your local authority.
- Your accredited licensing qualification certificate.
- Your recent DBS criminal background check and, where relevant, a disclosure of convictions & declaration form.
- Two passport size photographs, countersigned by a solicitor or notary, a person of good standing in the community or any individual with a professional qualification.
- Where subject to immigration control, documentation to demonstrate your entitlement to work in the UK, for example, a passport or biometric residence permit.
You will also need to pay the non-refundable application fee of £37. This is in addition to any fees payable to obtain your accredited licensing qualification and recent DBS check.
How long will my personal alcohol licence last?
Your personal alcohol licence has no expiry date and, unless suspended, revoked or surrendered, will remain valid indefinitely. If you are convicted of a relevant offence a court may order that your personal licence be suspended or forfeited.
The licensing authority also has a discretionary power to revoke or suspend your personal licence for a period of up to 6 months in circumstances where it is made aware that you have been convicted of a relevant or foreign offence, or you have been required to pay a civil immigration penalty.
This applies to convictions received, or civil immigration penalties that you have been required to pay, at any time before or after your licence was granted.
Can I become a designated premises supervisor?
All licensed premises, with the exception of community premises where this requirement has been waived, must have an allocated personal licence holder known as the Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS).
The DPS is the person who has day-to-day responsibility for the running of the business, and is required to authorise every sale of alcohol.
Once you receive your personal licence, you can be nominated to act as the DPS for any business that sells or supplies alcohol. However, licensed premises only need one personal licence holder to authorise the sale of alcohol.
You are not required to hold a personal licence to be employed in a pub or other business that sells alcohol. However, anyone who does not hold a personal licence must be authorised to sell alcohol by a personal licence holder.
Can the designated premises supervisor be varied?
Although licensed premises can only have one premises supervisor, the premises licence holder can apply to vary a DPS. This may be necessary where the existing premises supervisor has had, or has threatened to have, their personal licence suspended or revoked.
Whilst the premises licence holder is required to inform the existing premises supervisor of any application, care must be taken not to breach the Data Protection Act 2018 by disclosing a copy of the application containing personal information about the proposed new DPS.
A copy of this application must, however, still be sent to the police.
The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.