Special licence

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

Changes to special alcohol licence

If you are hosting an event and providing alcohol, make sure that alcohol provided is paid for. A special licence won't be issued unless there is a sale of alcohol as part of the event.

According to recent changes to the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012, we can only issue a special licence for an event where alcohol is sold and supplied. This includes ‘alcohol inclusive’ events where the ticket, admission price or donation for the event covers the supply of ‘free’ alcohol. 

The changes to the Act mean that some events which previously needed a licence can no longer be given one. For example, an event where alcohol is supplied to guests for no payments.

Types of special licence

There are two types of special licence:

  • an on-site special licence allows you to sell and supply alcohol for people to drink at the place where the event is being held (including on a bus, train, ferry or other vehicle – in which case you need a ‘conveyance’ style on-site special licence)
  • an off-site special licence allows you to sell alcohol for people to take and drink somewhere else, including small tastings at the event site. It can only be issued tto manufacturers, distributors, importers or wholesalers of the alcohol being sold.

Examples of events that need a special licence

  • Ticketed events like festivals, concerts and sporting events where the sale and supply of alcohol is included in the ticket price or sold over a bar.
  • Bus, train and limo trips (conveyance) where alcohol will be sold and supplied or included in the price of the ticket.
  • Licensed premises where the event is not covered by the normal licence.
  • Social club and community club events where membership fees go towards buying alcohol.

It’s important that you make sure your event doesn’t cause problems for you, your guests or your neighbours. The Health Promotion Agency has some useful information about planning and managing a fun and safe event. 


Have these things on hand to make applying easier:

  • copy of the plan of the premises, layout for the event, or location of stand or stall
  • a letter from the owner of the building giving consent to sell and supply alcohol at your event if you are using someone else's venue
  • copy of the tickets, if you are using them
  • evidence of promotional material (flyers, radio and newspaper advertising, posters)
  • copy of food and alcohol menus
  • details of any criminal convictions. 

How to apply for a special licence for a premises

Use the PDF application form below for events that will be taking place in a premises, either licensed or unlicensed, and post or drop it in to the Service Centre.

Special licence (premises) application (130KB PDF)

If your event is on a licensed premises you need to show:

  • how the event is different from normal trading activity
  • why you want to hold the event outside normal trading hours
  • dates and times for the period of the event - not just an extension of normal licence trading hours.

If the event is private, you will need to describe your guests, eg “family and friends of the birthday boy”, or “members of the Harry Potter Appreciation Club”.

How to apply for a special licence for a conveyance

Special licence (conveyance) application (117KB PDF)

Use this form for events that will be on a moving vehicle, such as a bus, train or limo.

Download the PDF and post or drop it into the Service Centre, and wait for us to get in touch.


You need to pay a fee when you lodge your application. Find out more about our fees.

What happens next?

Your application will be sent to the New Zealand Police, Medical Office of Health and our Licensing Inspector. These authorities may submit a report on your application. When your application and the reports are complete, we'll send these to the District Licensing Committee for a decision.

Late applications

To comply with s137 of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 you need to apply for a special licence at least 20 working days before the event. 

If your application is late, you'll need to tell us why. We will ask the District Licensing Committee if they will accept your late application, but we can't guarantee a positive outcome.

How are special licences granted?

Under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012, the District Licensing Committee (DLC) considers all special licence applications. Usually a DLC chairperson will consider and make a decision “on the papers”. In some cases, the committee might need to hold a public hearing.

Application process flow diagram.


This timeframes diagram (248KB PDF) illustrates what you can expect during the application process.

Remember, the timeline is a guide. Your application might take longer if:

  • you haven't provided all the information we need
  • your application is opposed and has to go to a public hearing.

More information

Alcohol Licensing Services

Phone 04 801 3760
Email secretaryDLC@wcc.govt.nz
Postal address Alcohol Licensing, PO Box 2199, Wellington 6140
Physical address Service Centre, 101 Wakefield Street, Wellington