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Guide A guide to personal licences GN3

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1. Personal licences application guidance

What is a personal licence?

All sales of alcohol must be made by, or under the authority of, a personal licence holder. Not everyone who makes a sale has to hold a personal licence, so long as a personal licence holder has authorised the sale. This does not apply to qualifying clubs or premises operating under a temporary event notice (TEN).

You must normally apply for your personal licence to the council in whose district you ordinarily live.

You can have as many personal licence holders on one premises as you wish, providing there is only one designated premises supervisor (see below). You can also choose to become a personal licence holder if you wish to apply for more than five TENs a year, but otherwise would not require one.

Length of licence

The requirement to renew personal licences issued under the Licensing Act 2003 has been abolished with effect from 1 April 2015. 

While you no longer need to renew your licence you should remember that all personal licence holders have a duty to tell the licensing authority that issued their licence of any changes of name and address or if they are convicted of any relevant or foreign offences.

What is a designated premises supervisor (DPS)?

All premises operating under a premises licence to sell or supply alcohol must appoint a DPS for the premises. There can only be one DPS per premises. The DPS will be held as the person in overall charge of the premises. You should therefore choose this person with care.

Applicants for premises licences must nominate the DPS on their application form. This person does not have to be on the premises at all times but they must take responsibility for what happens there. This means the DPS should ensure any staff they appoint are appropriately trained in the requirements of the Licensing Act 2003 and of any specific conditions attached to the premises licence.

A person can't become a DPS unless he is also a personal licence holder.

Although qualifying clubs don’t need a DPS to sell alcohol to members and their guests, this exemption doesn't apply if the premises are hired out for wedding receptions and the like. You need a full premises licence for these activities (unless you are only holding a small number of events, which you can hold under a TEN) and therefore need to appoint a DPS.

Application for a personal licence

Requirements for an application for a personal licence:

  • Be over 18
  • Completed application form PEN01
  • Two photographs of the applicant, which shall be:
    1. Taken against a light background so that the applicant’s features are distinguishable and contrast against the background
    2. 45 millimetres by 35 millimetres
    3. Full face uncovered and without sunglasses and, unless the applicant wears a head covering due to his/her religious beliefs, without a head covering
    4. On photographic paper, and one of which is endorsed with a statement verifying the likeness of the photograph to the applicant by a solicitor, notary, a person of standing in the community or any individual with a professional qualification
  • Proof that you hold a licensing qualification that has been accredited by the Secretary of State, or proof that you are a person of prescribed description.
  • Either
    1. a criminal conviction certificate issued under section 112 of the Police Act 1997(a), or
    2. criminal record certificate issued under section 113A of the Police Act 1997, or
    3. the results of a subject access search under the Data Protection Act 1998(b) of the Police National Computer by the National Identification Service
    1. Currently a basic criminal conviction record can only be obtained from Disclosure Scotland on payment of a fee. Contact details are:
      Disclosure Scotland
      PO Box 250
      Glasgow G51 1YU
      Telephone 0870 609 6006
    2. Alternatively but less straight forward a subject access search can be obtained from a Police Station on payment of a fee. Experience has shown that the Disclosure Scotland avenue is generally quicker than a police subject access report
    Important Note:
    In all cases these certificates or subject access reports shall be issued no earlier than one calendar month before the giving of the application to the relevant licensing authority. This means that the certificate/subject access report must be less than one month old when we receive it together with the personal licence application.
  • a declaration by the applicant, in the form set out in form PEC02, that either he/she has not been convicted of a relevant offence or a foreign offence or that he/she has been convicted of a relevant offence or a foreign offence accompanied by details of the nature and date of the conviction and any sentence imposed on him in respect of it (see Appendix B). A relevant/foreign offence that is spent within the terms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 need not be declared. Further information on spent and unspent convictions, please see Appendix A.
  • Fee of £37.

If there are relevant offences, the Police can make a representation against the application on crime prevention grounds. If the police make a representation then there will be a hearing of the application as described above.

Making an application

  1. An application shall be made in writing.
  2. Notwithstanding the requirement in paragraph (1) and subject to paragraph (3), that requirement shall be satisfied in a case where-
    1. The text of the application:
      1. Is transmitted by electronic means
      2. Is capable of being accessed by the recipient
      3. Is legible in all material respects; and
      4. Is capable of being read and reproduced in legible written form and used for subsequent reference
      The person to whom the application is to be given has to agree in advance that an application may be given to them by those means, and;
    2. forthwith on sending the text of the application by electronic means, the application is given to the recipient in writing
  3. Where the text of the application is transmitted by electronic means, the giving of the application shall be effected at the time the requirements of paragraph 2(a) are satisfied, provided that where any application is required to be accompanied by a fee, or any document that application shall not be treated as given until the fee or document has been received by the relevant licensing authority.

The contents of these pages are provided as an information guide only. They are not a full and authoritative statement of the law and do not constitute professional or legal advice. Any statements on these pages do not replace, extend, amend or alter in any way the statutory provisions of the Licensing Act 2003 or any subordinate legislation made under it or statutory guidance issued in relation to it. No responsibility is accepted by us for any errors, omissions or misleading statements on these pages, or any site to which these pages refer. In particular, it must be noted that, although we have made every effort to ensure that the information in these pages is correct; changes in the law and the nature of implementation mean that the information in these pages cannot be guaranteed as accurate.