Owning a bar sounds glamorous. However, you must ensure that you hold the bar liquor licence. In New South Wales, you cannot sell or supply liquor without a licence. For small bars, this will generally be a small bar licence. 

Unlike opening a new bar, an existing bar should already have a current licensee who holds a liquor licence for the premises. Therefore, you do not need to apply to Liquor and Gaming NSW for a new licence. Instead, you will have the existing licence transferred to you. This article explains how to get a bar liquor licence transferred in NSW. 

Transferring With Consent

If you have the consent of the outgoing licence holder, it is fairly straightforward to get the bar liquor licence transferred to you. You must submit several documents to Liquor and Gaming NSW, including:

  • evidence of responsible service of alcohol qualifications;
  • a copy of a National Police Certificate from NSW Police less than three months old; and
  • a current ASIC extract showing directors and officeholders, if the licence will be held by a company.

If all documents are satisfactory, Liquor and Gaming NSW will confirm the transfer within 60 days.

Transferring Without Consent

You may also transfer a bar liquor licence without the consent of the outgoing licence holder. You may need to do this if the current licence holder has:

  • not agreed to transfer the current licence;
  • vacated the premises; or
  • been evicted.

In this situation, you must still give notice to the outgoing licence holder that you require a transfer by sending a notice in writing, by registered mail, to their last known address. This notice should let them know that they have three days to consent to the transfer.

If three days pass without a response, this letter must then be included in the licence transfer application to Liquor and Gaming NSW. However, the premises owner should make this application. If you are not the premises owner, you should ensure that the sale of business agreement includes making this application as a special condition.

If the Landlord Holds the Licence They Must Get Approval

In most cases, it will be the previous tenant and not the landlord who holds the bar liquor licence. However, sometimes the landlord will hold the licence. For example, if the landlord were themselves operating a bar, or if the previous tenant transferred the licence to the landlord. 

In this case, the landlord must first gain approval from Liquor and Gaming NSW before leasing the premises to you. If they do not, the lease is still valid. However, Liquor and Gaming NSW may take action. For example, it may:

  • transfer the licence;
  • revoke the licence; or
  • issue fines and take action to enforce the licence conditions.

Before signing the lease, you should make sure that it includes a condition that the landlord transfers over to you any liquor licence they hold.

Key Takeaways

You must hold a valid liquor licence to operate a bar in NSW. If you are purchasing a bar, rather than starting one in a new location, you will need to have the existing licence transferred to you. This requires you to send several documents to Liquor and Gaming NSW. Should the landlord hold the licence, they will need to apply to Liquor and Gaming NSW for approval to lease you the premises. You should ensure that they do this before you sign the lease.

If you need further advice on obtaining a bar liquor licence, call LegalVision’s liquor licence lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

Lianne Tan
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