Guide A guide to personal licences (GN3) and renewals

Show all parts of this guide

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 and changes you must tell us about

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 if:

  • you change your name or address
  • you are convicted of any relevant offence, foreign offence, immigration offence or if you are required to pay an immigration penalty. You'll need to give a notice containing details of the nature and date of the conviction and any sentence imposed

If you are charged with a relevant offence, you must produce your personal licence to the court. If that is not practical, you must tell the court that you have a personal licence, which licensing authority issued it, and why you can't produce the licence. The court may order the forfeiture or suspension of your licence and will notify the licensing authority of this.

If you are convicted of a relevant offence, foreign offence or are required to pay an immigration penalty (and you have not appealed against the conviction) the licensing authority may suspend your licence for a period not exceeding six months, or, revoke your licence.  If the licensing authority is considering suspending or revoking your licence you will be given notice of this and will be invited to make representations.

It is an offence to fail to notify the court or licensing authority of any of the above.

Please be aware that if your licence was issued after the 6th April 2017 it will lapse if you cease to be entitled to work in the UK.

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

To apply for a personal licence you need to be over 18.  You will need to send us the following documents: 

  • 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. All personal licence holders must hold an accredited personal licence qualification  obtained through an accredited qualification provider.

  • 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 GOV.UK on payment of a fee.
    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 GOV.UK 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, foreign offence or required to pay a civil immigration penalty or; that he/she has been convicted of a relevant offence, foreign offence or has been required to pay a civil immigration penalty accompanied by details of the nature and date of the conviction or penalty and any sentence imposed on him in respect of it. A relevant/foreign offence that is spent within the terms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 need not be declared.

  • copies of a document or documents which demonstrate your right to work in the UK.  A list of the documents that are acceptable for this are shown at note 2.

  • Fee of £37.

Please note that if there are any relevant offences, we will have to share this information with the Police and the Home Office (Immigration Enforcement). 

Please also note that your right to work in the UK will be checked as part of your licensing application and this could involve us checking your immigration status.

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.

Similarly, if there are relevant immigration offences or penalties, the Home Office (Immigration Enforcement) can serve the licensing authority with an immigration objection notice. If an immigration objection notice is received then there will be a hearing of the application as described above.

Meaning of "relevant offence" and "foreign offence"

  1. In this Part "relevant offence" means an offence listed in Schedule 4 of the Licensing Act 2003
  2. The Secretary of State may by order amend that list so as to add, modify or omit any entry
  3. In this Part "foreign offence" means an offence (other than a relevant offence) under the law of any place outside England and Wales

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.