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If you operate a BYO restaurant in New South Wales, you do not need a liquor licence. However, you may still need approval from your local council. Furthermore, similar to a licensed restaurant, you must also ensure the responsible use of alcohol, including preventing service to minors. This article explains your obligations when serving alcohol in a New South Wales BYO restaurant.

Check With Your Local Council

In NSW, a liquor licence is not required to operate a BYO restaurant. However, your local council may still require you to obtain development or building approvals. Before signing a restaurant lease, check with your council and ensure that you receive all necessary approvals.

Other states will have their own requirements. For example, BYO restaurants in Victoria must obtain a BYO permit.

Encourage Responsible Use of Alcohol

Even though running a BYO restaurant means that you do not need a liquor licence, you still have similar overall responsibilities as licensed restaurants. Liquor and Gaming NSW states that you must minimise liquor abuse through the way alcohol is consumed on your premises. For example, you should:

  • provide water to all patrons who consume alcohol;
  • discourage irresponsible drinking behaviours; and
  • have a plan for ejecting patrons who are intoxicated and disruptive.

Servers and waiters in a BYO restaurant do not need to have a responsible service of alcohol certificate or training. However, this is still a good idea, as it will ensure that your staff understand their legal obligations. 

Encouraging responsible use of alcohol also means that you will find it easier to acquire a liquor licence in the future. For example, if you decide that you would like to sell bottles of wine or spirits (even online), or if you would like to install a bar in your restaurant. In these cases, you will then need to obtain a liquor licence, even if the rest of the restaurant remains BYO.

Do Not Serve Alcohol to Minors

The laws prohibiting serving alcohol to a minor (anyone under 18) still apply to a BYO restaurant. For example, it is illegal for a waiter to serve alcohol to a minor who brought it in. The only person who may serve alcohol to a minor is their parent or guardian.

Furthermore, it is also illegal for a minor to drink alcohol in a BYO restaurant unless authorised by their accompanying parent or guardian. If an unaccompanied minor starts drinking alcohol in your restaurant, your staff must stop them. For example, by removing bottles at tables where unattended minors are present.

Key Takeaways

You do not need a liquor licence to operate a BYO restaurant in NSW. However, you still have a duty to serve alcohol responsibly. Therefore, you should ensure that your staff understand their legal obligations. In particular, they cannot serve alcohol to minors, even if those minors brought the alcohol into the restaurant themselves.

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


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