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Article by Guest Contributor

Liquor licenses are applied for and issued under the requirements of the i.t.o the liquor act applicable to each province. The requirements that must be complied with before a liquor license can be granted are clear and easy attainable. 

See Also: South African Liquor Licenses: The Basics

We have assisted hundreds venues with liquor license applications and have many years’ experience in it. There are a few mistakes that a lot of people make, and misinformation that exist. This article is a general discussion of things you should know when you apply for a liquor license, that can remove misunderstanding.

When you apply for a liquor license, you don’t want it to fail and you don’t want it to be turned down.  So what must you know to make sure your liquor license application is successful?  Here are few pointers:

1.       The premises must comply with the type of liquor license that is applied for

There are different types of liquor licenses and each type of liquor license has separate requirements for the premises it is applied for.  You must therefore know what the requirements are for the type of liquor license you are applying for and the make sure that your premises comply with these requirements.

2.       The zoning of the premises must be correct

You don’t want to obtain a liquor license from the Liquor Board, only to find out that the premises is not zoned for business according to Municipal By-Laws.  Here too, you need to know what type of zoning is available and what the possibilities and requirements of each one is.  You then need to ensure that your premises comply with those requirements.  If you have a liquor license but the incorrect zoning, you will not be able to trade and the expenses you incurred in obtaining the liquor license would have been a waste.

3.       You may apply for a liquor license even before the premises are finished

Once you have determined what the requirements are for your premises, and you start changing your premises, you do not have to wait for the changes to be complete before you can apply for a liquor license.  The Liquor Board has no problem to grant a liquor license before the premises are finished, so you don’t have to wait to start the application process.

4.       If the premises are expanded or changed after the liquor license was granted

You will have to also make application to the Liquor Board to expand the license.

5.       The person who applies for the liquor license must not have an alcohol related criminal record

In terms of the Liquor Act, persons with criminal records may apply for a liquor license.  Persons with an alcohol related criminal record may however not apply for a liquor license, or if such a person applies, it will be turned down.

6.       Objections that were lodged after the liquor license application can be addressed

One a liquor license application is lodged, objections will be invited from your area and also a police report from the liquor officer is delivered.  Don’t think that objections are the end of the world.  They can be addressed.  Sometimes the objections come from the opposition and are therefore not relevant. In principle, the objections can be successfully dealt with and your liquor license application can still be successful.

If the objections are addressed by you but the Liquor Board is of the opinion that the objections are of a serious nature, the Liquor Board will ask for evidence. This means that the Liquor Board will hold a hearing where we will represent you and any person that must give evidence, will do so in person on the day of the hearing.  About two-thirds of applications (in general) are normally successful after such a hearing, if you have good representation.

7.       Renewal periods of liquor licensesd

Remember to renew your liquor license once a year.  If you don’t renew the liquor license in time, it will lapse and once it has lapsed, you will have to apply for a new liquor license again.  It takes on average about four to five months to get a liquor license so you don’t want to put in a position where you can’t trade.

8.       Liquor license applications are advertised on the first Friday of each month in the Government Gazette

Therefore make sure that your timing for your liquor license application is good otherwise you may have to wait until a following month.

9.       Liquor licenses are not owned by individuals

A liquor license that is granted , is granted to the premises and not the person.  A liquor license can therefore not be transferred from one person to another to be used at a different premises than the one the liquor license was granted for. 

The Government would rather have licensed that unlicensed premises, so in general the Liquor Board considers liquor license applications with a positive attitude as they would rather grant the license, if they can, than not.  The more licensed premises there are, the better the premises that hold liquor licenses can be controlled.  So don’t delay in applying for your liquor license.