Are you interested in opening a small bar in NSW? If so, you’ll need a small bar licence which allows you, the licensee, to sell liquor on a licensed premises. Below, we step you through what conditions attach to a small bar licence.

Who Can I Serve Alcohol To?

Licensees cannot sell alcohol if there are more than 60 people present in the bar (this is separate from capacity). A small bar licence differs from a hotel or general bar licence as they don’t permit the following: 

  • Gambling (including pokies or other gaming machines);
  • Takeaway sales; or
  • Children during liquor serving hours.

Small bars must also be open to the general public, and cannot restrict the supply of alcohol to those they have invited or are a particular class of person. For example, a members-only club would fall foul of this rule. You can apply for a temporary exception from the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority.

There must be food made available consistent with the responsible sale, supply and service of alcohol. A separate condition requires drinking water to be available free of charge whenever liquor is served.

What are the Trading Hours?

The standard trading hours for small bars are 12pm to 12am any day of the week. Additionally, for small bars outside the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross precincts, a small bar licence automatically includes granting extended trading authorisation which permits the sale of liquor between midnight and 2am.

Unlike hotel and club licences, no provisions restrict the sale of liquor on Good Friday and Christmas Day. A small bar licence may, of course, be subject to specific conditions that vary these hours.

How Do I Apply for a Liquor Licence?

The freeze on new liquor licences in Kings Cross and Sydney CBD districts does not apply to small bars. You can apply online for a small bar liquor licence through the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority. Before applying for a liquor licence, you should confirm whether you need any development consent or other approval from your local council. Unless the premises were already involved in the sale of alcohol, you will likely need permission.

Provided you meet certain conditions, you won’t require a Community Impact Statement. If you notify the police and the Secretary of the Department of Justice within two days of submitting your application, you will not need to submit the (larger) Category B Community Impact Statement.

The application is then made available on the online liquor application noticeboard for 30 days to allow the general public to make representations.

How Much Does a Liquor Licence Cost and How Long Does it Take?

Currently, the application fee is $350 or $1,600 if you apply for the extended trading to 2am (or some other time). There are also annual licence fees to pay. The base fee is currently $204. Unlike club and hotel licences, there are currently no loadings on the annual licence fee for small bars for extended hours or other risk factors.

The outcome of your application will be determined within four months from the end of the public advertising period.


If you have any questions about setting up your small bar anywhere in Australia, get in touch with our liquor licence lawyers on 1300 544 755.

Daniel Ah-Sun
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