Reading time: 4 minutes

Wine connoisseurs are likely familiar with the Latin phrase ‘in vino, veritas’, meaning ‘in wine, truth’. While wine is believed to have first appeared in human civilisation around 7000 years ago, we’re moving towards more modern distribution channels, including online. In the interest of providing truth to wine sellers, we discuss liquor licensing requirements below and what permits you will require if you sell wine on the Internet.

Liquor Licence

Australia’s liquor licencing regime is designed to ensure that wine and other alcoholic products are available to adult members of the community in a manner that does not negatively affect public health and safety. Of particular concern to regulators is that alcohol is not sold to minors or in an unsafe and irresponsible way.

Anyone who sells wine in Australia must have a licence, including online retailers. Although online wine retailers do not have a physical store for customers, the public health and safety issues for which governments issue permits remains relevant. For example, online wine retailers are required to notify customers on their website that they cannot supply wine to anyone under 18.

Online wine retailers must abide by all terms of their licence. The application procedure is identical to retailers with a physical business address and store. For example, applicants who want to sell online must still be eligible and prove their good character.

Liquor licensing in Australia is not nationally regulated. Rather, state and territory governments determine what licences online retailers require, prescribe the attached conditions and the application procedure.

That means that anyone wanting to sell wine online will need to obtain a state or territory liquor licence prompting additional questions such as, “if I sell wine nationally, in which state am I required to apply for and hold a licence?” and “do I need one in each state and territory?”

Determining the Correct Jurisdiction for Your Liquor Licence

If you want to sell wine online, chances are you will want to structure your business as a company. As a company, you must abide by the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth). The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) regulate this Act.

Under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), all companies must inform ASIC of the following:

  • Address of their registered office and principal place of business;
  • Residential address of each officeholder;
  • Address of each member, if it is a proprietary company; and
  • Contact address if the company has one.

The registered address and principal place of business for your company determines the state or territory in which you should apply for your liquor licence. So, a company registered in Sydney will request a licence in the state of NSW. Similarly, if your principal place of business is Perth, you will apply for a liquor licence in Western Australia.

For example, the contact address for the successful wine delivery startup Vino MoFo is in Victoria. Their permit to sell wine is Victorian. Also, their website provides the statutorily mandated warnings about not serving alcohol to minors under the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 (Vic). Likewise, Cellarmaster’s website notes that the business delivers wine straight from the Barossa Valley, South Australia. Their licence is South Australian and their warning about selling to minors governed by the Liquor Licensing Act 1997 (SA).

Key Takeaways

This information means that if you want to trade as an online wine retailer, the first question that you have to answer is where you want to locate your principal place of business. For example, if you like warm weather and would like to set up your business in Queensland, you will need to apply for a liquor licence with the Office of Liquor and Gaming in that state.

If you require further information about which liquor licence you need and how to obtain it, the websites for the relevant state and territory government departments are a great starting point. However, if you are reaching the stage of opening your online wine cellar, you should speak with a qualified professional. Get in touch with our liquor licensing lawyers if you have any questions or need help with setting up your business.

Webinars

How Franchisors Can Avoid Misleading and Deceptive Conduct

Wednesday 18 May | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Ensure your franchise is not accused of misleading and deceptive conduct. Register for our free webinar today.
Register Now

New Kid on the Blockchain: Understanding the Proposed Laws for Crypto, NFT and Blockchain Projects

Wednesday 25 May | 10:00 - 10:45am

Online
If you operate in the crypto space, ensure you understand the Federal Government’s proposed licensing and regulation changes. Register today for our free webinar.
Register Now

How to Expand Your Business Into a Franchise

Thursday 26 May | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Drive rapid growth in your business by turning it into a franchise. To learn how, join our free webinar. Register today.
Register Now

Day in Court: What Happens When Your Business Goes to Court

Thursday 2 June | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
If your business is going to court, then you need to understand the process. Our free webinar will explain.
Register Now

How to Manage a Construction Dispute

Thursday 9 June | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Protect your construction firm from disputes. To understand how, join our free webinar.
Register Now

Startup Financing: Venture Debt 101

Thursday 23 June | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Learn how venture debt can help take your startup to the next level. Register for our free webinar today.
Register Now

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a commercial law firm that provides businesses with affordable and ongoing legal assistance through our industry-first membership.

By becoming a member, you'll have an experienced legal team ready to answer your questions, draft and review your contracts, and resolve your disputes. All the legal assistance your business needs, for a low monthly fee.

Learn more about our membership

Need Legal Help? Submit an Enquiry

If you would like to get in touch with our team and learn more about how our membership can help your business, fill out the form below.

Our Awards

  • 2020 Innovation Award 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice Award 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2020 Financial Times Award 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2021 Law Firm of the Year Award 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards
  • 2019 Most Innovative Firm - Australasian Lawyer