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Whether you want to finally start selling that craft beer you have brewing, or open your dream restaurant that pairs food and wine, you must have a liquor licence to sell or supply alcohol. This article outlines the steps you need to take to obtaing a liquor licence in the Northern Territory so you can get your business up and running.

Who Can Apply for a Liquor Licence?

You do not have to be a company to apply for a liquor licence. Licences can be granted to individuals, registered companies and partnerships. However you must meet the eligibility criteria to apply. This includes being over the age of 18 and passing a compulsory police check. All directors, shareholders and individual applicants must undergo this check.

What Licence Do I Need?

Before preparing your application, you will need to decide what type of licence your business needs. This will depend on:

  • how you are supplying the alcohol;
  • where it is being consumed; and
  • when you are open for business.

The four licence types are described below.

1. Full Liquor Licence

The full liquor licence is appropriate for businesses that want to sell liquor on their premises. Examples include operating a pub, restaurant or a hotel.

This licence requires a $200 application fee. Note that your operating times will be restricted to the terms of your licence.

2. Special Liquor Licence

The special liquor licence is designed for supplying liquor at one-off events, such as concerts or sporting events. This licence is typically used by community organisations, but may also be useful to existing licensees if they are operating outside of their normal business hours for a special event. A special liquor licence application costs $20.

3. Continuing Special Licence

This licence is ideal for social clubs, sporting groups and not-for-profit associations. You will need to ensure your hours of liquor service do not exceed 30 hours a week, otherwise you may need to apply for a full liquor licence. The continuing special licence has a $20 fee.

4. Wholesale Liquor Licence

A wholesaling licence is suitable for businesses that will supply liquor to other licensed premises to sell. You may choose from a one, three or five year licence, with fees ranging from $20 to $100. This licence imposes the requirement to report quarterly on the amount of liquor supplied to licensed premises.

How Do I Prepare My Application?

You can download a copy of the application form from the Northern Territory Government website.  Each application requires a number of supporting documents, so leave yourself plenty of time to prepare. These documents include:

  • professionally drawn plans of the nominated site;
  • council approval(s);
  • company documents and details of directors, partners and nominees;
  • proof of title or lease; and
  • relevant certificates, permits and records of inspections.

You must also advertise your proposed licence in a local newspaper for 30 days and provide copies of your advertisement with your application.

Once this time period has elapsed, you can submit your application with the relevant fee to a Territory Business Centre.

Do I Have Any Ongoing Obligations?

There are limitations around promoting liquor that you must adhere to in order to retain your licence. For example, there are particular rules around offering happy hours. Happy hours must finish by 8pm, and you cannot advertise:

  • happy hour prices; or
  • both the start and finish time of happy hour (i.e. you can only advertise one of these times).

You can see the full list of the acceptable practices here. You must be comfortable with following these rules if you want to obtain a liquor licence.

Your supply of liquor must also comply with the Licensing Commission’s regulations. You will need to identify a nominee from your business who will be responsible for the day-to-day management of your licensed premises. The nominee must complete a Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) course and understand how to promote alcohol responsibly.

Key Takeaways

Applying for a liquor licence in the Northern Territory should be a key priority of yours if you plan to supply alcohol as part of your business. It is important to start the process early so you have time to get the requisite police checks, training, plans and approval before you start serving alcohol.


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