Skip to content

Special licenses are issued for specific events or occasions and are valid only over the timeframe specified in the license. A series of related events can be specified on the one license. The license can be issued for up to 12 months.

The holder of the special license must control the sale and consumption of alcohol at the event and ensure statutory responsibilities are observed. It is a requirement that a person holding a manager's certificate is appointed although this requirement may be exempted by the DLC at its discretion and will depend on the type of event. If exempted, a person must be nominated to manage the conduct of the sale of alcohol under the license.

A special license may also be issued for off sales in situations such as market days.

For 'BYO' and 'place of resort' guidance please see the NZ Police website for more information.

When is a special license required?

A special license is required if alcohol is being sold. Sale includes situations where the alcohol is being provided as part of an inclusive charge for any service or gathering – eg cover charges for entry which include a “free glass of wine” etc.

Situations where a special license is required include:

  • No on or club license is held
  • A caterer does not hold an endorsed on-license
  • Club licensed premises are hired out for private functions and either the club or the person hiring the premises is selling alcohol to attendees
  • The function is outside the hours or area authorised on an existing on-license or club license
  • A special license is not required for private functions where all the alcohol is provided free of any charge to attendees such as 21st birthday parties, wedding functions etc.

Applying for a special license

  • Application must be made at least 20 working days before the first event. The 20 working days does not include the  working day application is received and the event date. The only time that applications may be accepted in a shorter timeframe is where the event could not have reasonably been foreseen - such as a funeral.
  • The expected processing time for an application for a special license is up to 18 working days since the Police and Medical Officer of Health have 15 working days to report on the application.  This processing time should be regarded as a minimum for applications where no issues are identified.  The time period will be longer if a hearing is required.  Applications should therefore be received as early as possible.  If a hearing is required the minimum 20 working days is likely to be insufficient to allow the application to be determined before the event is due to take place.  It is recommended that applications are received at least 40 working days before the event.
  • The company or person taking the profit from the sale of alcohol should be the applicant
  • You must be 20 years or older to apply
  • If you do not own the premises, the owner's consent must be included with the application
  • A floor plan of the premises must be included in the application

An application form can be sent to you by contacting us or downloaded using the link below.

Related documents