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Premises licence - guidance

You will need a premises licence if you intend to sell alcohol or provide ‘licensable activities’. Under the Licensing Act 2003, this includes a vehicle, vessel or moveable structure or any part of any premises.

Premises licences are valid for as long as the premises exists or until the licence is surrendered or revoked.

You need to pay an annual fee from the date your licence was granted and on the same date each year. The licence fee is set by central government and is based on the rateable value of the property.

Covid restrictions relating to marquees

For information regarding marquees and Covid restrictions, please see the 'further help and guidance' section below.

Activities that need a licence

Licensable activities include:

  • selling alcohol
  • serving hot food and drinks between 11pm and 5am

You’ll also need a licence if you provide the following types of entertainment:

  • theatrical performance
  • showing a film
  • indoor sporting event
  • boxing or wrestling (indoor or outdoor)
  • live music
  • recorded music
  • dance
  • facilities for making music
  • dancing facilities

You still need a licence even if the activities are for charity.

Gaming machines

You may have to pay Machine Games Duty on any gaming machines you have on your premises.

Do you run a members' club?

You can get a club premises certificate instead of a premises licence if you run a members' club.

You don’t need a licence for some types of entertainment, including:

  • educational or promotional films
  • films shown as part of an exhibition in a museum or gallery
  • incidental music (live or recorded).

You must be 18 or over to apply for a premises licence.

  • You must be, or appoint, a designated premises supervisor (DPS) when you apply for a licence. A DPS must have a personal licence to sell alcohol.
  • There may be other conditions added to your licence, eg having an age-checking policy if you sell alcohol.
  • Your licence should be kept safely at the premises. Police or council officers can ask to inspect them at any time.

If you fail to pay your annual licence fee on or before the required date, the Licensing Authority must suspend your premises licence or club premises certificate and you cannot carry out licensable activity until this fee is paid. It is a criminal offence to carry out or attempt to carry out licensable activities whilst a licence or certificate is suspended.


You’ll be charged a fee that’s based on the rateable value of the property and which is set by central Government.  If your premises doesn’t have a rateable value it will fall into the lowest fee band. Check:

Fees for entertainment and premises licensing


You can be fined up to £1,000 for failing to produce your licence on request.

If you carry out any licensable activities at your premises without a premises licence, you can be fined, sent to prison for up to 6 months, or both.

See the guidance (GOV.UK) (chapter 8) or email:

Marquees and Covid rules, regulations and guidance

What is considered to be an outside space is defined legally in the Health Act 2006 and the Smoke-free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulations 2006. The act introduced a ban on smoking in enclosed public places and the regulations define ‘enclosed’ and ‘substantially enclosed premises’ which apply in relation to inside and outside spaces under the Covid regulations.

A premises is considered enclosed if it has a ceiling or roof and except for doors, windows and passageways, is wholly enclosed whether on a permanent or temporary basis.

A premises is considered to be ‘substantially enclosed’ if it has a ceiling or roof but there are permanent openings in the walls which are less than half the total area of the walls including other structures which serve the purpose of walls (when covered or closed). When determining the area of an opening, no account can be taken of openings in which doors or windows can be opened or closed.

A roof includes any fixed or moveable structures, such as canvas awnings. Tents, marquees or similar will also be classed as enclosed premises if they fall within the definition.

A marquee can only be considered to be an outside space if over 50% of the sides have been removed (known as ‘the 50% rule’).

Openings to provide doors, windows, or other fittings which can be opened or closed do not count towards the 50% figure.