Special Licence FAQs
Who can apply for a special licence?
Any natural person (an individual) who has attained the age of 20 years, a company, or an incorporated society.
The holder of a special licence is responsible for ensuring that all directions and conditions on the licence are complied with.
A PTA, school board, unincorporated club or organisation cannot hold a special licence. We recommend that the licence is applied for in the name of a responsible individual associated with the school/club/organisation.
When do I need to apply for a special licence for my event?
We require your application to be lodged at least 20 working days prior to the event.
If your event is over the summer period (20 December to 15 January) the working days stop during this time. This means that special licences for events over this time period must be lodged prior to the 20th of November.
We're going on a bus trip - can I sell or supply alcohol on the bus?
If you are selling tickets for the trip on they conveyance (and alcohol is included) or directly selling alcohol on the conveyance (e.g. bus, coach, boat), then you need a special licence, to do so.
You cannot sell, supply, or consume alcohol on a conveyance without an appropriate special licence.
What are the food requirements for a special licence?
You must have substantial food available at all times while alcohol is being sold or consumed. You must have at least three substantial food offerings.
Substantial means foods such as pizza, pies, main meals, sandwiches. Cheese and crackers, chips or other nibbles type of food is not considered substantial.
What is a low-alcohol beverage?
The Act says that low-alcohol is defined as less than 2.5% ethanol by volume at room temperature (20 degrees celsius).
What that means is low alcohol beverage is between 1.15% - 2.5% alcohol strength.
Anything under 1.15% is regarded as non-alcoholic.
Low alcohol wine is misleading as it is generally around the 7% - 8% alcohol strength.
What is a responsible person?
A responsible person is nominated on the special licence application. This person is responsible for the conduct of the premises while the special licence is in effect and is responsible for the sale, supply and consumption of alcohol on the premises. This person must ensure that people drink responsibly, no person on the premise is intoxicated and no person under the age of 18 is permitted to consume alcohol. This person should ideally be a duty manager although that is not essential.
We expect the responsible person to make sure that food, water, low-alcohol, and non-alcoholic options are available in plentiful supply. We also expect the same person to oversee and control the event.
For larger events a certificated duty manager (plus additional staff) may be required.
What is a designated area?
A designated area is either a part or all of the licensed area where minors are not permitted to enter.
A restricted designated area does not allow any minors to enter at all.
A supervised designated area only permits minors to enter if they are accompanied by their parent or legal guardian.
A undesignated or unsupervised area allows minors to enter.
As a general rule any premises where the principal business is the sale of alcohol, would have a supervised designated area. There is no good reason why a minor (who is not old enough to purchase alcohol) needs to be on the premises.
Can I serve alcohol at my wedding/birthday?
As long as it a private event and you are not selling alcohol then you do not require a special licence; however, you must be careful as adequate controls must be in place to prevent intoxication. Under section 235 of the Act it is an offence to use an unlicensed premises as a place of resort for consumption of alcohol.
Please check with the venue to ensure you abide by any hire regulations.
Guidelines for hosts for the responsible consumption of alcohol can be found here: alcohol.org.nz
How do I do a sketch plan?
A sketch plan is required for a special licence (unless it is for a premise that is already licensed). This can be done by hand, or through computer software. You may also have access to a plan of the building through the owner/person you hired it from.
A sketch plan should encompass the entire area of the special licence (inside and outside) and include where the sale and consumption of alcohol will occur, seating arrangements, and location of the principal entrance.
What are the maximum hours for my licence?
There are a number of factors limiting the hours on a special licence:
Local Alcohol Policy - on licence hours (including special licences) are restricted to 9am to 1am the following day
Resource Consent - the location of the special licence may be restricted in trading hours due to a resource consent. Licence holders will be aware of this.
For a large event a resource consent may be required. The resource consent may limit the hours for the event.
I have convictions - can I still get a special licence?
Having convictions does not preclude you from obtaining a special licence. The application is reviewed by the Police, the Medical Officer of Health and the Alcohol Licensing Inspector.
What is the minimum age to obtain a special licence?
20 years of age.
How do I get my certificate of incorporation?
If you do not have it on record, please look up your company or society at either of the following and download the certificate of incorporation:
What happens if I need to postpone my event?
Under section 149 (2) a special licence will still have effect for the event if it is postponed. Please contact the Council and let them know the new date for their records.