Getting your UK Pub Licences

Visiting the pub is seen as one of the great British pastimes, but what if you wanted to run your own, with your own pub licences? Alongside considerations like whether you will serve food, keeping on top of budgetary restrictions, and attracting people to the pub, you also need to ensure that you have the right licences to legally run it.

Below, we discuss a number of the licences you will need to successfully open and operate your own pub in the UK. If you’re in urgent need of licensing advice, consider getting in touch by phone, email, or by filling out our contact form today.

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What UK pub licences do you need?

When opening up a pub in the UK, your customers are most likely expecting your pub to provide good quality beers and spirits, and potentially wines and non-alcoholic drinks as well. They may also expect food to be available, either prepared fresh or from a supplier, alongside music, television and other licensable activities.

In order to provide entertainment, or sell food and alcohol, you must have a number of licences to do so. 

Below, we share the top 8 licences and actions that are essential for operating a pub. Please bear in mind that some of these licences are legally required for you to operate.

1. Register your pub as a food business 

Registering your pub as a food business with the local authority is a vital first step to opening your new business.

To register, visit the council website for whichever council oversees the area where your business is located. For instance, if you are based in Portsmouth, you should find the Portsmouth county council website and register through that.

Please make sure to register your business with the local licensing authority for the location that your business is based. If you are unsure which local authority catchment you fall under, please use the local council finder available.

Please be sure to register your food business with your local council at least 28 days before opening, or you may face delays. Please contact our team today if you need assistance.

2. Premises licence

The premises licence is the first licence you will need to sell alcohol in your pub, and licensable activities like entertainment fall under this licence as well.

This licence is perhaps the most important licence that your business will need, and as such, making sure you understand each step of the application process is necessary to running your licensed premises in the way that you want to. 

Your Operating Schedule

Making sure your operating schedule is completed to your specific needs is absolutely vital, as it forms the basis of your licensing agreement.

To begin, you should detail how you will promote each of these licensing objectives:

  • The prevention of crime and disorder
  • Public safety
  • The prevention of public nuisance
  • The protection of children from harm

This section of your licence is highly important, and these licensing objectives will form the basis of your premises licence for your pub.

If you require any assistance with understanding or filling out this section of the application, please get in touch with John Gaunt & Partners today. Our team of licensing experts are on hand to ensure that your end licence is fit for purpose.


Hours of operation

As you complete your application, you will be required to decide on the hours of operation. This can be a very contentious part of the application process, as all of your licensable activities must be considered.

If you are unsure how to proceed with your hours of operation in conjunction with your licensable activities, speak to John Gaunt & Partners today. We can suggest ways that can help you maximise your potential success, by offering insight into the pros and cons of your suggested hours.

Proving that you are entitled to work in the UK

If you wish to acquire a premises licence, you must prove that you are eligible to work in the UK, and subject to any conditions that may prevent you from obtaining a premises licence. Please be aware that immigration status checks may be performed during this part of the application process.

Acquire DPS consent

You will need to assign a Designated Premises Supervisor as part of your licensing applications, who must hold a personal licence. When completing the application for your premises licence you must have their consent, as they will most likely handle any licensing communications.

Plan of your Premises

Providing a plan for your pub is vital. Consider these elements:

  • What are your pub’s property boundaries?
  • Where are the entrances and exits to your pub located?
  • Where are the toilets in your pub?
  • Does your pub have any staircases or steps?
  • Do you have any gaming machines in your pub?
  • Where are the fire escapes and other exit routes for your pub?
  • Does your pub have designated areas for licensable activities (for instance a stage)
  • Are there any raised areas in your pub or on the property?
  • If there is any safety equipment in your pub, where is it located?
  • Is there any part of your premises that requires special attention?

Be sure to outline any licensable areas in red on the plan. Please also consider carefully where you will outline your trading area against your licensable activities areas, or you could risk the success of your application. If you require some aid with your premises plan, speak to John Gaunt & Partners today, who can offer experienced advice on successful pub premises plans.

Use of outdoor spaces

If you plan to make use of a beer garden as a part of your pub, you must consider the implications behind it and apply them to your Premises Licence application if needed.

Elements you must consider include:

  • What counts as an outdoor space around your premises?
  • What do I need to consider if I wish to implement temporary shelters or awnings?
  • What rules for customers do I need to consider when running my pub and beer garden?
  • What noise levels do I need to comply with?

For more information surrounding beer gardens as a part of your business, view our Beer Garden page during the application process.

Pub premises licence advice from the experts

It is not recommended that you attempt to complete every section of the premises licence without previous experience, or the help of a licensing solicitor:

  • Completing the licence application incorrectly can leave it open to objection from the Local Licensing Committee, which could see your pub opening delayed
  • Accepted licence applications with missing licensable activities can also be a risk. If your business is found to be acting outside of what your licence permits, you could have your licence revoked, and business shut down.
  • Responsible Authorities like the Police, Environmental Health, and Fire Office will provide feedback on your application. Sometimes that feedback can go against what you consider to be within the best interests of you or your new pub.

John Gaunt & Partners can help you avoid each of these issues through years of experience licensing public houses and other pub premises. We can also act as representation, and will argue for your premises licence application to the Responsible Authorities.

Do I need a Premises Licence for non-alcoholic and low alcohol pubs and bars?

There is currently a trend for non-alcoholic and low-alcohol drinks venues.

While it may seem counterintuitive to need a licence for non-alcoholic drinks (0.5% alcohol and below), venues should take into account the range of benefits that a Premises Licence provides beyond simply allowing the sale of alcohol. These benefits include selling hot food beyond 11pm and playing music that is more than just background, as well allowing the venue to host a range of entertainment.

Venues focusing on low-alcohol drinks (any drink between 0.5% and 1.2% alcohol) will still require a premises licence to sell their drinks.

Contact John Gaunt & Partners for representation

If your application is due to appear before a Local Licensing Committee and you require a representative, our team can help. We will support your application on your behalf and give it the best possible chance of acceptance.

If you are experiencing any of the above premises licensing issues, or would like to speak to a specialist to mitigate them, please get in touch with us today through our contact form, or reach out directly through 0114 266 8664 or


3. Personal Licence

The personal licence is the second licence needed to serve alcohol on your premises.

This licence allows the holder to authorise the sale of alcohol, and to sell alcohol themselves, in a licensed venue or premises. Commonly, most pubs have one or two personal licence holders to oversee the sale of alcohol and authorise it. Not all staff members at your pub need to hold a personal licence.

If you have a team that requires personal licences, or wish to become a personal licence holder yourself, we provide a straightforward process for applying which you can follow. 

A couple of important points to note when filling out your personal licence application:

The person or persons attempting to get a personal licence must pass a DBS check, and must not have forfeited a personal licence within the past 5 years.

You should ensure that all applicants pass an APLH course or receive a similar accreditation, or their personal licence application will be rejected.

As a potential provider of foods as well, you should also consider taking John Gaunt & Partners Allergen AwarenessCustomer Service and Food Safety (Levels 1 to 3 available in Catering, Retail and Supervising Food Safety) eLearning Courses, which can help prepare your teams for a range of situations.

View our Training Courses today

4. Pavement licence and A-Board Permits

You may wish to use an a-board to advertise your pub or promote any special offers on food and drinks. It is common practice to do this, but you will run into problems if you do not have the correct licence to allow this activity.

To place A-boards or unfixed furniture on the pavement outside your premises, you must have a pavement licence designated to your business. These licences are granted by the local authority, and allow businesses to place a range of items around their premises, as long as it is within the boundaries of the licence and the items are removable.

The application fee amount for pavement licences is currently capped at £100, but applicants should be aware that pavement licence fees are set by whichever local authority oversees their pub location.

This area of licensing law can be incredibly complex, with each region having varying restrictions and pricing. It is recommended that you speak to a licensing expert to achieve the most optimal pavement licence for your pub.

5. Gaming machine licences

If you plan to have gaming machines in your pub, you should consider this as a part of your premises licence. In general, gaming machines found in pubs or bars tend to be category C machines, which means they have a jackpot of £100 or less.

Premises licence holders are entitled to install up to two category C machines, once the proper notice is given and fees are paid to the local authority. This notification is called a Licensed Premises Notification (LPN), and is absolutely necessary if you intend to install gaming machines.

If you’d like to install gaming machines with higher jackpot values, or wish to install more than two machines in general, you will need to gain a Licenced Premises Gaming Machine Permit (LPGMP) from your local authority.

Accessing the LPGMP in particular can be difficult, so making sure to utilise the expertise of professionals is highly recommended. Get in touch with our team today to discuss acquiring your LPGMP, or visit our gaming machine category page for more information on the different types of gaming machines available.

6. Become a registered company

If you plan to set up your pub as a limited company, you must do this through Companies House early into your applications.

If you are running your pub as a sole trader (for instance, if you plan to run a micropub), you will need to register your business with the HMRC.

7. Music licence

You may wish to play music in your pub. To legally do so, it is a requirement that you apply for a music licence from PPL PRS.

Please bear in mind that this covers recorded music played on CD, Spotify, radio or music channels, as well as live music events.

8. TV Licence

Some pubs like to share live sporting events or other major events on televisions on the premises. 

To ensure that you are doing this legally, it is advised that you request a tv licence for your property.

What pub licence costs are there to consider?

Pub licence costs will be affected by the licensable activities that will take place in your pub.

Premises Licence Fees

Premises licence fees revolve largely around the fee band of your business property, as well as the application fees payable to local authorities, which usually range between £100 to £635. If you have a ‘Wet Led’ business (where 50% of your income comes from drinks and doesn’t rely on food sales), you may be subject to a multiplier. Please keep this in mind when budgeting for licence fees.

Premises licence applications will also need to be advertised both at the premises and within the local press. At John Gaunt & Partners, we work with an agent who specialises in securing discounts with the press. Get in touch today to see how our agent can help you, and if you need any support in understanding your pub premises licence fees.

Personal Licence Fees

Initial costs to apply for a personal licence are £37 each. Consider also that you will be required to complete a DBS check, which currently costs £36 + VAT. 

APLH qualifications must also factor into your personal licence fees. If you use John Gaunt & Partners to acquire an APLH, it will only cost £120 per person, and thanks to the eLearning nature of the courses, your team will find them straightforward to use and easy to access.

You should also consider our APLH Combined option when applying for your personal licence and APLH. This option allows you to combine the APLH course with expert advice and support filling out the personal licence application. This method streamlines the personal licence process, so you can focus on other licensing needs and the success of your business.

If you are acquiring a Personal Licence in Scotland, we also offer SCPLH and SCPLH Combined options too. These courses are also necessary for completing your Personal Licence application.

Talk to one of our team if you would like to discuss our APLH or SCPLH options.

Pavement or Street Display Licence Cost

Application fees are currently capped at £100 for pavement and street display licences, although depending on your location, the cost of the licence itself could come to around £400.

Do you need help getting the best licences for your pub?

It can be difficult navigating the world of licensing, especially when your business revolves heavily around alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink sales.

At John Gaunt & Partners, we specialise in getting the best possible licences for you, and will represent if your applications are objected to. To work with our team of licensing specialists, get in touch today, or reach out directly by calling our Head Offices on 0114 266 8664, or emailing our team at

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