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Personal Licence

Bartending Licence Requirements In The UK

Tuba Tasneem

March 27, 2023

Read time : 5 mins

Table of contents

Premises Licence Personal Licence Supervisors Conclusion


For hundreds of years, pub culture has played a significant role in the U.K. society, with cities teeming with everything from independent gastropubs and trendy bar chains to little towns with pubs that can barely hold fifteen patrons. The laws governing the consumption and sale of alcohol have been altered over time, most notably in 2005, to fight perceived ‘binge drinking’ to take into account changes in how society regards alcohol, or “booze,” as the Brits call it. Many restaurants now stay open until the wee hours, with some not even closing, replacing the traditional ‘eleven p.m. last orders’ with the striking of the bell behind the bar and subsequent ‘closing time’.

Premises Licence

Under the previous Licencing Act of 1964, pubs and clubs in the United Kingdom had to possess a Justice Licence in order to serve alcohol to patrons inside the establishment. Everything was changed by the Licencing Act of 2003, which went into effect in 2005. Now, to serve alcohol or conduct ‘licensable activities’, such as selling food between eleven p.m. and five a.m., you need a ‘Premises Licence.’ A premises licence is also required for many entertainment activities, such as staging a play, hosting a wrestling match, or hosting a dance or live music event, even if they are being done for charitable reasons.

A Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) must be appointed, or the applicant must have completed the necessary training to have a Personal Licence (described below). The Premises Licence, which must be prominently displayed inside the institution in question, shall list this DPS by name. There is no time limit on these premises licences. But renewal is frequently subject to an annual price, ranging from £100 to £2,000 every year, depending on what the local council determines to be the ‘fee band’ (i.e., the worth) of the property where alcohol is being sold.

You may be asked to grant the police, including members of their licencing department or council members, access to your premises at any time to inspect your licence and related documents. The penalties for violating licencing laws can be severe: not producing your licence when asked for will result in a maximum fine of £1,000; engaging in activities on your property that are not permitted by your licence will result in a substantial fine, a jail sentence of up to six months, or both.

Personal Licence

A personal licence permits the owner to sell alcoholic beverages from designated locations. Once it gets its premises licence, it is required to have at least one employee who is licenced personally working. This indicates that the personal licence holder (PLH) authorises sale or supply of alcohol. No matter how many employees are under them, the PLH is entirely in charge of selling alcohol in a location (most, if not all, of whom will have no qualifications or licence). You can work and sell booze anywhere with a licence, including casinos, supermarkets, sports facilities, and amusement parks, if you have a PLH qualification. For one of these licences, you must be eighteen or older.

You must take the APLH (Award for Personal Licence Holders) course, a multiple-choice exam with a pass level of 70% administered by local authorities. If you pass, thorough background checks are done to investigate criminal offences. You will receive the licence once this is finished and it is evident you have no unfinished convictions (for instance, you are no longer performing community service or are not out on bail for an offence). The local police force will receive notification of your application from the licencing body and will have the opportunity to object to you receiving a Personal Licence if it turns out that you have any convictions left on your record. If this happens, you can present your argument with the licencing authorities at a hearing.

A Personal Licence is valid for ten years in England and Wales. To maintain the licence, the licence holder must succeed in a refresher course after five years.

The authorities treat anyone who doesn’t follow the law quite harshly. For instance, you need to submit an application to the licencing body for the region where you typically live. It is illegal to fail to notify them of any change in your personal information, such as moving out of the area. Additionally, you must inform the court that you have a personal licence at your first court appearance if you are accused of any other crime while designated as a PLH; failing to do so is, once again, a crime. A conviction could result in suspension or possibly the loss of your personal licence.


According to the U.K. Licencing Act 2003, every licenced location must have a Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) who is listed on the premises licence and who owns a current Personal Licence. It’s possible that this isn’t the owner of the company or property but rather a manager or supervisor that the owner has hired to handle the day-to-day management of the pub, bar, club, etc. The sale and service of alcohol is prohibited at a licenced business if it lacks a DPS or a personal licence that is still in effect. It’s crucial to remember that when a fully licenced establishment has a designated premises supervisor (DPS) who owns a Personal Licence, the DPS is not obliged to be present when alcohol is served.

The Designated Premises Supervisors (DPS) of licenced properties are also periodically reviewed by the licencing authority, who can revoke the DPS’s licence at any time. Every candidate for a DPS position must pass a rigorous screening process. The police have the right to oppose if they have any concerns about a candidate’s behaviour in the past or present or their criminal history. The licencing authority considers these issues to decide whether to approve or deny the DPS application.


A premises must have a current premises licence to identify the designated premises supervisor (DPS) (not necessarily the owner), who must also hold a personal licence to sell or serve alcohol or host events like live music. However, the DPS does not need to be constantly present as long as one employee on duty has a Personal Licence.