Personal licence

A personal license authorises the holder to supply alcohol or authorise the supply of alcohol in accordance with a premises licence. A personal license is a requirement for any person wishing to become the designated premises supervisor (DPS) of a premises licensed to sell alcohol.

The sale and supply of alcohol carries with it a greater responsibility than other licensable activities. This is why sales of alcohol may not be made under a premises license unless there is a DPS in respect of the premises, who must hold a premises license and must authorise, verbally in person or in writing, every sale of alcohol. The only exception is for those community premises which have successfully applied to remove the DPS requirement.

Who can apply for a personal licence?

In order to apply for a personal license the applicant must be over 18 years of age and must possess a licensing qualification from an accredited provider. Only the applicant or an agent acting on their behalf may apply to the Licensing Authority for a personal license. Further, the applicant must apply to the licensing authority where they reside for a personal license. If applicants have previously held a personal license they must not have forfeited the personal license within the last five years.

Applications for a personal license may be refused in circumstances where the applicant has an unspent conviction for a relevant offence or a foreign offence. Such applications will be subject to consultation with the police and the applicant will be entitled to a hearing before the licensing committee.

How do I apply for a personal licence?

To apply for a personal license the applicant must submit an application to the licensing authority where the personal licence applicant is resident. For the application to be valid the submission must include the correct fee, a basic criminal convictions certificate, a qualification certificate, a completed disclosure of criminal convictions and declaration form and two endorsed passport sized photographs of the applicant.

What do I need to consider when completing my application?

Any premises at which alcohol is sold or supplied, where the requirement for a personal license holder does apply, may employ one or more personal license holders. For example, there may be one owner or senior manager and several junior managers holding a personal license. It is recommended as good practice to have multiple personal license holders employed at a premises licensed to sell alcohol to ensure proper supervisory control.

If you are obtaining your personal licence in order to become the DPS at a licensed premise please be aware that you cannot be named as DPS until such a time as your personal licence has been granted. A change to the designated premises supervisor can only be requested by the premises licence holder. Further information on how to apply to vary the DPS or transfer a premises licence can be found by visiting our premises application guidance page.

On making such an application the premises licence holder should request evidence from the incoming DPS to ensure that they are satisfied a valid personal licence is held before submitting an application. Details of the personal licence held must be provided within the application form and DPS consent form.

Immigration Act 2016

From 6 April 2017, immigration safeguards are being introduced for alcohol and late night refreshment in England and Wales. The Licensing Act 2003 has been amended by Section 36 and Schedule 4 of the Immigration Act 2016 to incorporate these changes.

The new provisions mean that licensing authorities are prohibited from issuing premises and personal licences for the sale of alcohol or provision of late night refreshment to anyone who is illegally present in the UK or not permitted to carry out work in a licensable activity.

For all such applications made on or after 6 April 2017, applicants should submit one of a number of specified copy documents which show that they are in the UK lawfully (if they are resident here) and permitted to carry out work in a licensable activity.

Premises or personal licences granted as a consequence of applications made on or after 6 April will lapse if a licence holder’s permission to be in the UK and work is time-limited, and comes to an end.

From 6 April 2017, Immigration Enforcement, acting on behalf of the Secretary of State, is added to the list of responsible authorities. It will be consulted for any new premises licence applications or variations for the sale of alcohol and late night refreshment. In some limited circumstances, also personal licence applications.

Please see the document below entitled List of acceptable documents to show entitlement to work. You must submit an acceptable document with a new personal license application for it to be valid.

What happens if I declare I have been convicted of a relevant offence on application?

Licensing authorities are required to notify the police when an applicant for a personal license is found to have an unspent conviction for a relevant offence defined in the 2003 Act or for a foreign offence. Where an applicant has an unspent conviction for a relevant or foreign offence, and the police object to the application on crime prevention grounds, the applicant is then entitled to a hearing before the licensing authority. If the police do not issue an objection notice and the application otherwise meets the requirements of the 2003 Act, the licensing authority must grant the personal license.

If you are convicted of any relevant or foreign offence during the period between when your application is made and when your application is determined or withdrawn, you must notify the authority to which your application was made. Failure to do so without reasonable excuse could lead to prosecution and a fine.

Who can endorse the photographs?

Applicants for a personal licence must enclose two passport sized photographs of themselves, one of which is endorsed as a true likeness of them by a solicitor or notary, a person of standing in the community or any individual with a professional qualification.

If I hold a personal licence do I need to supervise each sale of alcohol in person?

The requirement that every sale of alcohol must at least be authorised by a personal license holder does not mean that only personal license holders can make sales or that they must be personally present at every transaction. A personal licence holder may authorise members of staff to make sales of alcohol but may be absent at times from the premises when a transaction takes place. However, the responsible personal licence holder may not be able to escape responsibility for the actions of anyone authorised to make sales.

It is strongly recommended that personal licence holders give specific written authorisations to individuals whom they are authorising to sell alcohol. A single written authorisation would be sufficient to cover multiple sales over an unlimited period. This would assist personal license holders in demonstrating due diligence should issues arise with enforcement authorities; and would protect employees if they themselves are challenged in respect of their authority to sell alcohol.

Who can make a representation?

In circumstances where the applicant has an unspent criminal conviction for a relevant or foreign offence defined in the 2003 Act and the Chief Officer of police believes that the granting of the personal license would undermine the crime prevention objective the police may object to the granting of a personal license.

Such objections must be received within the 14 day consultation period. Where the police submit an objection notice on crime prevention grounds, the applicant is entitled to a hearing before the licensing authority.

How long will my application take to be decided?

Where a valid application has been received and no consultation is required the Licensing team will aim to issue the personal license within 10 working days. Where consultation is required and the police do not issue an objection notice and the application otherwise meets the requirements of the 2003 Act, the licensing authority must grant the personal license.

Where a relevant objection is received, the application will be referred to the Licensing Sub-Committee for decision within 21 days.

What happens at the licensing sub-committee hearing?

The sub-committee will consider the representation submitted by the Chief of Police and a presentation from the applicant should they wish to make one. The sub-committee will then determine the application at the hearing or within 5 working days, and provide a written decision notice. The committee may only consider relevant matters and must consider each application on its individual merits. If someone wishes to appeal against a council’s licensing decision, they will have the right to do so to the Magistrates’ court.

Will I be asked to produce my personal licence when I am at work?

Personal licence holders are issued with a paper counterpart and photo card personal licence. Under the act personal licence holders have a duty to have their personal licence available when on the premises from which they will be making or authorising the supply of alcohol. A constable or authorised officer my require you to produce the licence (both the photocard and paper licence) on request. Failure to do so is an offence and conviction can result in a fine.

What if I am convicted of a relevant offence following the issue of my personal licence?

If you are convicted of a relevant offence whilst holding a personal licence, you are legally required to notify the court at your first appearance that you hold a personal license. You must produce your personal license to the court or if that is not possible you must tell the court why you cannot produce the licence. It is an offence not to notify the court and conviction can result in a fine.

The act also requires a personal license holder to notify the licensing authority of any offences during the lifetime of their license. The personal license holder must provide the licensing authority with details of the nature and date of the conviction and any sentence imposed by a court in respect of such a conviction. It is an offence not to notify the Licensing Authority and conviction can result in a fine.

Do I have to renew my personal licence?

The requirement to renew a personal license was removed from the Licensing Act 2003 by the Deregulation Act 2015. Personal licenses will remain valid unless surrendered, suspended, revoked or declared forfeit by the courts.

Once granted, the licensing authority which issued the license remains the “relevant licensing authority” for it and its holder, even though the individual may move out of the area or take employment elsewhere.

What do I need to do if I move address?

Under the act, personal licence holders are required to notify their relevant licensing authority if there are any changes in the name or address shown on the face of the licence (ie if the license holder moves address or changes name).

A form is available which may be used to fulfil this requirement. Upon receipt of this completed form, an administration fee, and return of both parts of the personal licence (paper licence and photocard), the Licensing Team will reissue the licence to show the updated details.

What if I require further advice?

The licensing team are able to offer general advice on completing application forms, and the process but are not able to complete your application for you. If you require detailed advice on your application it is recommended that you seek independent legal advice. Should you require further advice once you have completed your application form, please contact the licensing team by phone or email.

Contact details


Licensing team

Telephone: 01256 844844

Contact us

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