Licensing issues in Northern Ireland are quite complex, so if you’re the owner of a bar, hotel, club or bookmaker, it’s always in your best interests to check with a solicitor about what legislation is relevant to you, to ensure you operate on the right side of the law. We understand that this is an area many of our clients have questions about, so if you too have questions about licensing, find your answers here in our latest post which addresses some of the more frequent queries we receive.
What is an entertainment license?
If you want to provide entertainment at an indoor or outdoor venue in Northern Ireland, you need to have a valid entertainment license in place before hand. Entertainment licenses cover everything from theatrical performances, dancing and circuses, or public contests, matches, exhibitions or displays of boxing, snooker, billiards, wrestling, judo and karate. These licenses range from annual licenses to occasional licenses, which normally cover 14 days of entertainment within a 12 month period. Before applying for an entertainment license, you will need to provide proof of all your insurances as well as safety documents – such as a fire extinguisher certificate, emergency lighting certificate and fire alarm certificate, to name just a few. For more information on entertainment licensing, contact us and one of our team can advise you.
Do I need a permit for a gaming machine?
If you have gaming machines where a player can potentially win money, you may need an amusement permit. Firstly, you should establish the type of gaming machine you have and what the maximum cash pay out of it is, however as the law differs here depending on the type of premises the gaming machine is located in, you should check with a solicitor about whether or not you will need a separate permit for this.
Who can apply for a license to sell alcohol?
In Northern Ireland, the business owner should apply for the license to sell alcohol. The owner will need to prove they are fit to hold the license, which means that a number of factors will be considered – criminal convictions, reputation, experience and you will also need proof that your premises is a suitable venue for the sale of alcohol. It is illegal to sell alcohol without a license, and if convicted, you could be fined or face prison time.
Is there specific alcohol licensing legislation in Northern Ireland?
Yes, licensing law differs in Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK, and outlines when you can sell alcohol (times of the day), days you can sell alcohol, conditions of sale and drinks promotions. There will be different legislation and regulations for licensed premises, off licenses and businesses providing entertainment at a specified venue, so if you’re not sure which rules apply to you, check with our team.
How long will my alcohol license last?
Your license, once approved, can last for up to 5 years, and if you plan to renew your license you must do so before the deadline. Belfast’s Crown Bar famously made the headlines a few years ago for forgetting to renew its license, which resulted in it being unable to sell alcohol for a week, so don’t get caught out like this.