If you’re planning a large event, no matter what it is, there’s a lot to take on. Whether it’s the logistics, the guest list or the venue, the list of things to sort out can seem endless and one thing which often gets forgotten about is whether or not you’ll need an alcohol licence.

The reason for this is that most people really don’t know that much about licences, so in this post, we’re going to take a quick look at the basics to make things a little bit simpler.

Do I Need One?

The main question that you need to ask yourself is whether or not you’re actually going to be selling alcohol, or just giving it away.

If you’re going to be selling alcohol, then you’ll need to apply for what is known as a “Temporary Event Notice” (TEN), under the Licensing Act of 2003.

A couple of things to note about TENs; your event must have fewer than 500 people at all times and must last no more than a week (168 hours).

You can also only apply for up to five TENs a year unless you already have a personal alcohol licence, in which case you can apply for up to 50, and a single premises can only have 15 TENs in one year.

How Do I Get One?

If you’re going to be selling alcohol and need a licence, then you’ll have to apply to your local council to get one (you can find the right authority for you at gov.uk).

Example of a California alcohol permit

Make sure that you have all of this sorted well in advance, as you need to apply for the licence at least ten clear working days before the event takes place.

Unfortunately, TEN’s aren’t free, and you’ll have to pay a fee of £21. Once the TEN has been served, you have to send a copy to the police at least ten working days before the event, although if you’ve applied online, the council will do this for you.

If you’ve only realised that you need a licence at the last minute, it is possible to apply for a “Late TEN”, five working days before the event, although this isn’t recommended!

If all of this sounds like a bit too much hassle on top of everything else that needs sorting for your event, you can always turn to a licensing service such as Hospitality Training Solutions, who can arrange your licence for you!


In the vast majority of cases, a TEN will be passed with no problems, but there are a couple of grounds on which the police or Environmental Health can make an objection.

The main reason that licences are denied are when the authorities decide that the event could lead to crime and disorder, create a public nuisance or be a threat to public safety.

In the unlikely event that your licence is rejected, you can appeal to your local magistrate’s court.

It might all seem like a lot to take in, but applying for an alcohol licence is actually a lot more straightforward than you might think, and it’s also really important, and can lead to heavy fines if you don’t have one, so be sure to get it sorted well ahead of the big event!