Guide A guide to the Licensing Act 2003 GN1

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3. Late night refreshment

What is late night refreshment?

Late night refreshment means the supply of hot food or hot drink to the public, for consumption on or off the premises, between 11pm and 5am. It includes takeaways, cafés, fast food outlets and mobile catering vehicles. Premises that provide late night refreshment need to hold a premises licence.

The government believes it is necessary to protect local residents because premises, which serve late night refreshment, can be used by customers who may have been drinking at other premises earlier in the evening, thereby creating the potential for disorder on and near the premises. Also, because large numbers of customers may gather at places serving late night refreshments, there is a potential for nuisance and disturbance for local residents. The regulation of late night refreshment will tackle these issues and allow residents and other interested parties and responsible authorities to make representations about new applications, and seek reviews of existing licences where they are concerned that the four licensing objectives will be or have been affected.

If a supermarket or other business premises (for example, a garage) heats food or drink for customers between 11pm and 5am, or provides facilities for customers to heat food or drink above the ambient temperature, a premises licence is required. However, if the business is selling only cold food and drink, and not providing facilities to heat it, a premises licence is not required.

Are there exemptions for the requirement to obtain consent for late night refreshment?

The following are exempt from requiring a premises licence for the provision of late night refreshment:

  • Alcoholic hot drinks or hot drinks containing alcohol (although consent to sell alcohol will still be required)
  • Hot drinks distributed by a machine that is operated solely by the customer
  • Hot food or hot drink supplied free of charge, where there is also no charge for admission to any premises, or for some other item to obtain the hot food or hot drink
  • Hot food or hot drink supplied by a registered charity or by a person authorised by a registered charity (for example, a charity which is registered under the Charities Act 1993 or a charity not required by the Charities Act 1993 to be registered)
  • Hot food or hot drink supplied on a vehicle, which is not permanently or temporarily parked at the time
  • Hot food or hot drink supplied to members and guests of recognized clubs that hold a club certificate
  • Hot food or hot drink supplied to hotel and bed and breakfast guests
  • Refreshments in staff canteens where the staff are required to work between 11pm and 5am

So what happens with my application and how do I fill the form in?

Please see our pages on premises licences for full details of the application process.

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. We accept no responsibility 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.