Are you thinking about combining your love of alcohol with your ambitions as a business owner? Whether it’s a nice drop for your customers to enjoy over your latest culinary masterpiece, opening a nightclub that only plays Destiny’s Child, selling craft beer online like the startup Boozebud or, anything in between – you will require a liquor licence to serve alcohol in NSW.

Choosing the Right Liquor Licence for Your Business

The type of licence you’ll require will depend on what activities your business intends to conduct. There are seven liquor licence types in NSW:

  • Club
  • Hotel
  • On-premises
  • Limited
  • Packaged
  • Producer/wholesaler, and
  • Small bar (room for less than 60 people).

You can customise the conditions of these licence types to suit how you’d like to run your business – within reason. Factors that will impact on your licence’s conditions include:

  • When you intend to serve alcohol;
  • The capacity of your business venue;
  • If drinks will be consumed on your business’ premises or taken elsewhere; and
  • If you are producing or wholesaling alcohol.

If you’d like to situate your business in the Sydney CBD or King’s Cross, you may need to wait to apply until after 19 February 2017. There is currently a freeze on some licence applications due to ongoing problems with alcohol-fuelled violence.

Steps to Take Before Lodging Your Application

To apply for a liquor licence in NSW, you will require a National Police Certificate no older than three months. If you are applying on behalf of a corporation, the manager must present a Certificate. The purpose of this Certificate is to ensure you are a suitable candidate and will enforce the Responsible Service of Alcohol.

Some licence applications will also require you to complete a Community Impact Statement (CIS) before lodgement. A CIS will help the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) determine whether your business is going to cause problems for the local council and existing residents, businesses or the police.

Applications will generally need to have received development consent from the local council. Your local council’s website or the Australian Business Licence and Information Service are a good place to find out how you can start this independent approval process.

Lodging Your Application

Completed the pre-lodgment steps? Now you must lodge your CIS (if required) with your application, National Police Certificate and the relevant fee with the ILGA. After you’ve lodged these documents, the community will be notified of your application. The community then has a period when they may lodge their submissions. You are then given the opportunity to respond to the submissions and explain why your awesome business should go ahead. Once this process of investigation is completed, a report is prepared for the Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing (OLGR) who then conduct a risk assessment.

The outcome of this report and assessment will determine whether your liquor licence application is granted and what conditions are to be imposed on the liquor licence if any.

Has Your Application Been Approved?

Congratulations! You may now get your dream business up and running. What happens from here? First off, you’ll need to consider the ongoing requirements of a liquor licensee. This includes the display of signs notifying patrons and staff of the consequences of non-compliance with liquor laws and other requirements regarding the Responsible Service of Alcohol, limiting violence and ensuring your venue complies with all the conditions your licence was granted under.

Another thing to remember is the ongoing cost of a liquor licence – your fees are calculated on the perceived risk of your business so the bigger it is, the higher they are likely to be.

Questions about applying for your liquor licence in NSW? Let us know.

Thomas Richman
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