What is a Special Licence?
A special licence allows the sale of alcohol at special occasions or events. This is normally used to licence one-off events where no licence is currently held or when a licensee wishes to extend the area or hours of a current licensed premises. This is intended for an event or an activity which is outside the usual activities of the licensee and not just for normal business trading.
Examples of when you need a Special Licence
- Where alcohol is being sold at a venue that does not hold a licence
- Sporting, fundraising or social events with a cash bar
- Ticketed events where alcohol is being supplied as part of the ticket price
- Licensed premises where a licence is held but the event is not covered by the normal licence hours or the area that is licensed
Examples of when you do not need a Special Licence
- You are using a caterer who holds an endorsed Caterer's Licence to sell or supply alcohol at events
- A BYO event – an event where no alcohol is sold
- You are supplying alcohol to your guests in your home or your guests are bringing alcohol to your home
There are two types of Special Licences
- On site special - where alcohol is sold and drunk at the venue, eg; festivals, concerts, quiz evenings, fundraising dinners, sporting events.
- Off site special - when alcohol is purchased to be taken away unopened to drink somewhere else, e.g; farmers' market or auction. The off site licence also allows the supply of complimentary samples (tastings). Please note: Under Section 42 of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012, an off site special licence can only be granted to a person who is a manufacturer, distributor, importer or wholesaler of alcohol.
How much does a Special Licence cost?
It varies depending on the number of events. Fees are set by the Ministry of
The chart below shows which category your special licence fits into. All fees are GST inclusive and are non-refundable once you lodge your application.
|Class 1||One large event or more than three medium events; or more than 12 small events||$575.00|
|Class 2||Three to 12 small events; or one to three medium events||$207.00|
|Class 3||one or two small events||$63.25|
Large event means - more than 400 people will be attending the event
Medium event means - between 100 and 400 people will be attending the event
Small event means - fewer than 100 people will be attending the event
Can I apply for one Special Licence to cover several events?
You can have up to 12 events on the same licence. The events must be related or one event that runs over several days, eg; horse race meetings, bowling club tournaments. If the events are unrelated then separate applications will be required.
Do I need a certified manager on-site during my function?
You will need a person who holds a current Manager’s Certificate if the event is a large alcohol related event, eg; wine/beer festival (more than 400 people attending) or the Alcohol Licensing Inspector determines you need a person with a Manager’s Certificate to be present on site and responsible for the sale of alcohol at the event.
How to apply for a Special Licence
You must apply at least 20 working days before the event.
Special Licences take time to process. Applications received less than 20 working days may be considered if due to unforeseen events. The District Licensing Committee cannot guarantee the granting of a Special Licence lodged within the 20 working day timeframe.
Use the checklist on the front of the form to help you complete the application.
Please include the following:
- The required fee
- Detailed A4 site plan of the premises/site showing:
- Those areas that are to be used for the sale and supply of alcohol
- Those areas (if any) that are to be designated as restricted or supervised areas. (Restricted means no-one under 18 is to be present. Supervised means anyone under 18 will be present with their parent or legal guardian)
- The principal entrance
- Location of food outlets and other relevant activities
- A copy of any promotional material supporting the event, eg; flyers, copy of ticket, etc
- Alcohol management plan if your event is large (more than 400 people attending). A template and other resources can be downloaded for free at Alcohol.org.
How are Special Licences granted?
Under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 the District Licensing Committee considers all Special Licence applications. Usually a chairperson will consider and make a decision “on the papers'. If the reporting agencies or the Licensing Inspector objects to the application then the District Licensing Committee may hold a public hearing.
Where do I send my application?
It can be delivered to:
Council offices, 15 Seymour Square, Blenheim or High Street, Picton; or post to PO Box 443, Blenheim 7240; or email: email@example.com.
What happens to my application after I have sent it in?
- Application received - checked and processing begins
- Application referred to Medical Officer of Health and Police - 15 working days to respond
- Application referred to Licensing Inspector for reporting
- Application referred to District Licensing Committee - decision made to approve or decline
- Licence issued to applicant if approved
- Incomplete applications will be returned to the applicant which can cause delays in processing
Note: public holidays
There is special criteria for Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Christmas Day and before 1.00 pm on Anzac Day. Parliament has specifically prohibited normal trading activity for hotels, taverns and off licences on these statutory days.
This prohibition excludes cellar doors, which may sell grape wine or fruit wine on Easter Sunday if the grape wine or fruit wine is made:
(i) on the premises; or
(ii) from grapes or fruit harvested from land on which the premises is situated
Licensees wanting to apply for special licences to trade on these statutory days will need to meet the standard criteria for special licence applications and convince the reporting authorities that:
- They have a compelling reason for the event, eg; wedding, cultural celebration (evidence of arrangements or cultural significance will be required)
- The event is date specific and there is a good reason why the event could not be held on any other day, eg; 21st birthday (evidence of birth day will be required)
- The duration of the event is clearly justified