Licensing in Scotland – Time to get Personal!

United Kingdom

Liquor licensing in Scotland is governed by The Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 (“the Act”). Every premises needs a Premises Licence to sell alcohol. The sale of alcohol also requires to be authorised by a personal licence holder.

Personal licence holders are therefore a key part of the sale of any alcohol in Scotland. Without them no legal sales can be made. Any personal licences obtained on or before the Act came into force will expire on 31 August 2019 unless renewed. The deadline for submitting a personal licence renewal application is 31 May 2019.

It’s essential that all businesses involved in the sale of alcohol in Scotland, including but not limited to restaurants, bars, pubs, hotels and off-licences ensure their staff take action as soon as possible to renew their personal licences.

What action needs to be taken?

All personal licence holders are required by the legislation to:

  • undergo refresher training every 5 years during which the licence has effect; and
  • apply to renew their personal licence every ten years, and lodge the renewal application no later than 3 months before expiry date of the licence.

The Scottish Government has recommended that personal licence holders should take the further refresher training course and send the certificate to the relevant Licensing Board along with the renewal application. This would deal with the above processes at the same time.

For full guidance from the Scottish Government:

When should action be taken?

The key dates to note are:

  • 31 May 2019 – absolute deadline for submitting your personal licence renewal application, but if you leave it this late you may risk being stuck in the anticipated backlog of last minute applications.
  • 1 September 2019 – expiry date for personal licences granted up to 1 September 2009.

The application process for renewal is already open and all affected personal licence holders should prepare and submit the renewal application as soon as possible.

Why the urgency?

It is important to bear in mind that once an application is submitted, it will take time for the licensing board to process it. If the application is not processed by 1 September 2019, there is no provision in the legislation to allow a personal licence to remain in force. As such, it will expire if it is not processed regardless of whether an application has been made.

If the a large proportion of personal licence holders submit their renewal applications close to 31 May 2019, there will be a flood of applications for licensing boards to deal with and some applications may not be processed in time.

To avoid a shortage of personal licence holders and the impact that could have on business throughout Scotland, everyone affected should be taking action now!