Do you operate a trendy city bar or an online business that provides alcohol? If your business offers or sells alcohol, you will usually need to have a liquor licence. In Victoria, any person or organisation that offers or sells alcohol without a licence may be guilty of an offence and find themselves with a hefty fine or in prison. This article outlines the steps involved in getting a liquor licence in Victoria for your business.
Do I Need a Licence?
First, check to see if your business is exempt from requiring a liquor licence in Victoria. This may be the case if:
- you are supplying liquor without accepting money for it, directly or indirectly. An example of an indirect sale is purchasing a ticket to a music event where a drink is included in your ticket.
- the supply of liquor is only a small part of the service your business offers and is ancillary to your main goal. For example, some hairdressers, florists and hospitals are exempt from holding a liquor licence.
What Type of Licence Do I Need?
If your business is not exempt, there are a wide range of liquor licences available to suit different businesses. It is important you apply for the correct licence to save time and money. It will also help you get your business off the ground as quick as you can.
Before applying for your liquor licence, think about:
- where your customers will consume the alcohol you are supplying;
- what hours you wish to be open;
- how your business will be run; and
- where the premises are located.
Common licences include:
- general licence and late night general licence;
- BYO permits;
- full club, restricted club licences and renewable limited club licence;
- restaurant and cafe licence;
- packaged liquor licence and late night packaged liquor licence; and
- wine and beer producer’s licence.
Temporary licences allow you to supply alcohol only at specific times and according to the conditions specified in a licence. If you are organising a one-off events, such as a food and wine festival, you should apply for a temporary licence.
You can also use temporary licences to extend the trading hours of your business or to expand the scope of your current licence for a one-off event. For example, say you normally operate a licensed cafe from 7am-4pm but want to host your business’ five year anniversary by having a celebratory event in the evening. You can apply for a temporary licence to extend your trading hours for serving alcohol that night.
Tip: If you are creating a huge event that will attract more than 5,000 people, your event may be considered a ‘major event’ and you may require a major event licence.
Online Liquor Sales
A booming area of trade for many businesses is online sales. To determine what type of licence you need to sell alcohol online, you will need to consider where:
- the alcohol is produced;
- you are distributing it from; and
- your customers are based.
Online businesses that require a liquor licence include internet vendors and food vendors that wish to supply alcohol with their delivery of meals. They would generally apply for a renewable limited licence.
Before preparing your liquor licence application, you should be aware of a few key issues.
- Training: A licence application will not be considered unless the licensee has attended New Entrant Training (NET). NET is a training program which ensures licence applicants properly understand the relevant liquor laws. You should attend this prior to submitting an application, unless you are applying for a BYO permit or pre-retail licence.
- Council Approval: You should also consider whether you have council approval or planning permission to use the premises for the consumption of alcohol. Councils may also impose regulatory requirements unrelated to the supply of liquor, such as noise requirements.
- Lease Conditions: If you have a lease, you should also ensure that the supply of alcohol is a permitted use under the lease.
How Do I Apply?
You can apply for a liquor licence in Victoria online through the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation’s website. Each application package has a list of required documents and checklists you will need to prepare before lodging.
After preparing the documents and paying the fee, you can submit the application. Most licences will require annual renewal fees.
Before you start operating a business that provides or sells alcohol, you should apply for a liquor licence in Victoria. Make sure you carefully consider which licence to apply for and get ready for your application by attending the NET and talking to your local council.
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