Applying for a special alcohol licence for an event

You need to apply for a special licence at least 20 working days before your event if you want to sell or supply alcohol.

Special licences for Christmas Party events

All special licence applications for Christmas Party events held before or after Christmas received between 21st November and 16 January may not be processed in time.

When to apply

Apply for a special licence if you want to sell alcohol at a one-off event or series of events.

You need a special licence for:

  • ticketed events like festivals, concerts and sporting events where alcohol is included in the ticket price or sold at a bar
  • bus, train and limo trips where alcohol will be sold or included in the price of the ticket
  • an event at a licensed premises that's not covered by the normal licence – for example, a band playing outside your normal licensed hours
  • social club and community club events where membership fees go towards buying alcohol.

Under a special licence, customers must pay for the alcohol they consume – either over a bar or as part of the event entry fee or ticket price.

Note: If your event is being held in multiple locations, then you'll need a special licence for each location.

How to apply

You must apply at least 20 working days before your event starts.

If you haven't applied in time, you must provide a reason for why you didn't know you needed to lodge your application earlier. The DLC will consider the reason you give before deciding whether to allow your application to proceed. In some cases, a request to lodge a late application is declined.

If you have any questions during the process, you can meet with an alcohol licensing inspector for help or advice – it's free.

1. Find out which licence you need

The type of licence you need depends on whether you'll be selling alcohol to be consumed at the event (on-site) or taken away to drink later (off-site) – or both.

If customers will drink alcohol at the event

If customers will buy alcohol to take away

If customers will drink alcohol at the event and also buy alcohol to take away

2. Before you start your application

If you're hosting a large public event

You'll need to start your alcohol management plan before you apply. You might need to liaise with the Police and talk to your community, so allow plenty of time for this.

We also recommend letting your neighbours and the wider community know your plans in advance (for example, how you plan to control noise and how you'll promote responsible drinking) – this helps to prevent public objections if you're required to post a public notice.

Decide on your duty managers or nominated people

You'll need to provide the names of the people who will be responsible for managing the sale and supply of alcohol at the event.

If your event is large, high risk or high profile, these people should hold current manager's certificates. You can talk to an alcohol licensing inspector if you have any questions about whether your event needs certified managers.

Talk to your community

To avoid public objections, we recommend letting your neighbours and the wider community know your plans for the event. For example, how you plan to control noise and how you will promote responsible drinking.

Get permission to use a public footpath

To use a public road or footpath for your event, you'll need to apply for permission.

Organising an event

3. Talk to a licensing inspector about your plans

If this is your first application or you're hosting a large event, we recommend you meet with or phone an alcohol licensing inspector before you start.

Meet with an alcohol licensing inspector

4. Prepare your supporting documents

You must provide copies of all these documents with your application – if you don't, your application can be delayed or rejected.

Written consent from the building owner (and body corporate if required) or conveyance owner

Manager certificates

Menus and drinks lists

Other information you need to include in your application

Extra documents required for an event at a set location

Scale plan of the premises

Extra documents required for a large public event

Copies of promotional material and tickets

Alcohol management plan

Extra documents required if your event is being held on a moving vehicle

Map showing your travel route

5. Complete the form

There are two application forms, depending on where your event is being held.

If you are holding your event at a set location (for example, inside a building or at a public park), complete the special licence – premises form.

Apply online

Application for a special licence – premises (594KB PDF)

If you are holding your event in a moving vehicle (for example, on a ferry or a train), complete the special licence – conveyance form.

Application for a special licence – conveyance (590KB PDF)

6. What you need to pay

The fee you pay depends on the size and frequency of your event.

You'll pay $759.00 if your licence is for:

  • one large event (400+) people
  • more than three medium events (100–400 people)
  • more than 12 small events (fewer than 100 people).

You'll pay $273.00 if your licence is for:

  • one to three medium events (100–400 people)
  • three to 12 small events (fewer than 100 people).

You'll pay $83.00 if your licence is for:

  • one or two small events (fewer than 100 people).

7. Submit and pay for your application

Make sure you have all the supporting documents required and you've correctly calculated the fee you need to pay.

In person

By post or email

8. Post a public notice if required

After you've submitted your application, the District Licensing Committee will let you know if you need to notify the public about your licence application.

Notify the public of your alcohol licence application

9. Application assessment

Your application will be assessed by a Council licensing inspector (who might also visit your premises), as well as interested parties like the NZ Police, the Council's Noise officer and a medical officer of health from Capital & Coast DHB.

The process is the same as other alcohol licence applications, but is usually completed faster.

Alcohol licence application assessment process

10. If there's opposition or objection

Your application can be objected to by a member of the public, or opposed by the Police, the District Health Board (DHB) or a licensing inspector.

You may be able to resolve the issue through discussion or by making a change to your application (for example, reducing the hours of your event). If you can't, you'll need to present your case at a hearing.

If there's opposition or objection to your alcohol licence application

11. If your application is approved

You'll be notified by post or email.

After your licence is issued, you can sell alcohol at your event – as long as you meet all the requirements of being a licence holder.

Legal requirements for licence holders

Need help?

You can meet with an alcohol licensing inspector for free. They're available Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm.

Alcohol Licensing
Phone: 04 801 3760
Email: secretaryDLC@wcc.govt.nz

Meet with an alcohol licensing inspector