Liquor Licensing in New Zealand
This page provides an overview of how liquor licensing in New Zealand is controlled.
Liquor licensing is controlled by legislation
The manufacture, sale and supply of liquor in New Zealand is controlled by the Sale of Liquor Act 1989.
You must have a licence to sell liquor and you require a manager's certificate to manage premises licensed under the Act.
City and District Councils, the Police and Regional Public Health Offices all have statutory responsibilities under the Act.
Application criteria, forms used and the procedures for processing and granting licences, manager’s certificates and enforcement are the same throughout the country.
The Liquor Licensing Authority is responsible for national liquor control
The Liquor Licensing Authority (LLA) administers the liquor licensing legislation nationally in New Zealand.
The LLA is a judicial body established within the Ministry of Justice that:
- Determines liquor licence and manager's certificate applications referred to it by a District Licensing Agency (DLA).
- May cancel, suspend or vary licence and manager's certificates.
- Determines appeals against DLA decisions.
- Gives directions, advice to DLA’s.
Councils administer liquor licensing in their territorial districts
City and District Councils throughout New Zealand are appointed under the Sale of Liquor Act 1989 as a District Licensing Agency (DLA) responsible for liquor licensing in their territorial districts.
Porirua City Council Officers appointed as Licensing Inspectors under the Act carry out Council’s District Licensing Agency functions.
These include the inspection and monitoring of licensed premises, legislation enforcement and the conduct of inquiries into and the determination of:
- Applications for liquor licences and manager's certificates.
- Applications for variation to liquor licence conditions.
- Applications for re-definition of licensed premises.
- Special Licence and Temporary Authority applications.
Councils may formulate liquor-licensing policies for the control of licensed premises trading hours and zone restrictions in their territorial district.
There are other agencies involved in liquor licensing
The Police and Regional Public Health Offices also have statutory liquor licensing responsibilities under the Sale of Liquor Act 1989.
Council and those two agencies work together on this. Acting alone or jointly they may:
- Inquire into and report on new liquor licence and renewal applications.
- Oppose new and renewal applications for licences and manager's certificates.
- Inspect and monitor licensed premises for legislative compliance.
- Apply to the Liquor Licensing Authority for cancellation, suspension or variation of licences and manager's certificates.
- Initiate District Court prosecution action under the Act.
You may appeal against liquor licence decisions
Liquor Licensing Authority and District Licensing Agency decisions may be appealed.
Appeals against Liquor Licensing Authority decisions are heard by the High Court and thereafter the Appeal and Supreme Court as applicable.
The Liquor Licensing Authority hears appeals against District Licensing Agency decisions and thereafter the High, Appeal and Supreme Courts.
There are seven licence options under the Sale of Liquor Act 1989
The Act provides for five permanent and two short-term licenses. The one you apply for will depend on the type of premises you intend to operate:
- BYO On-Licence
- Catering Off-Licence
- Club Licence
- Temporary Authority
- Special licence
All liquor licences are licensee (licence holder), premises and address specific.
They are not transferable from person to person or from premises to premises.
The public may make complaints about licensed premises
You may make a complaint or discuss your concerns about licensed premises with Council's Customer Services Centre, the Porirua Police or Regional Public Health Office.
Complaints may only relate to the operation of the licensed premises. You must direct complaints about service to the premises management.
Complaints about food hygiene standards can be made to Council's Customer Services Centre.
Information and advice on the use of alcohol is available
The Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand (ALAC) is an independent national organisation established to encourage the responsible use and minimisation of irresponsible use of alcohol in New Zealand.
ALAC provides alcohol use information and advice for both individuals and business operators alike.
Links to more liquor licensing information