Industry sector: Retail and wholesale

Off-licence: Licences


Alcohol licensing

In England and Wales, a premises licence is required for any premises where alcohol sales will take place, and a personal licence is required by anyone who wants to sell alcohol from premises which have a premises licence. You will have to comply with the conditions attached to your licence, some of which will be standard and some of which may be imposed as a condition of granting the licence. Licences are issued by local licensing authorities. The Gov.uk website contains more information.

In Scotland, alcohol licences are issued by local licensing boards, which grant personal and premises licences. You can read more about alcohol licensing in Scotland on the Scottish Government website.

In Northern Ireland, alcohol licences are granted by the county court. There is a set number of off-licences in Northern Ireland and new licences for alcohol off-sales are not currently granted. So you'll usually need to find someone who's giving up or selling their licence. You can read more about alcohol licensing in Northern Ireland on the NI Direct website.

Alcohol wholesaler registration

If you plan to sell alcoholic drinks to other businesses on anything other than an 'incidental' basis (sales that you don't solicit, or that you are not aware are trade sales) you will need to register with HMRC as an alcohol wholesaler. HMRC will make checks to ensure that you're a 'fit and proper' person to operate as an alcohol wholesaler - for example that you have never been involved in illicit trading of smuggled goods. There's more information about the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme on the HMRC website.

Other matters

If you plan to sell food products you will need to register as a food business with your local environmental health department. They will inspect your premises and help you to comply with the requirements of the food safety and hygiene regulations.

If you plan to use copyright music in your business you will need to obtain music licences from the PPL and PRS for Music. There is an annual fee for these licences, which is calculated according to the size of the premises where music is played.

If you use a CCTV system at your outlet then you may have to register with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). More information about privacy and data protection laws - including a Code of Practice for CCTV users - is available on the ICO website.

Bear in mind that if you place a sign on the pavement outside your shop - for example an advertising A-board - then you may well need a pavement sign permit or similar from your local council.

Any business in Scotland which sells tobacco products must be registered with the Scottish Tobacco Retailers Register. There is no fee for registration and this can be done online. A similar requirement applies in Northern Ireland, where registration is with Belfast City Council.