A special licence allows for the sale of alcohol at special occasions or events.
They are normally used to licence one-off events where no licence is currently held, such as a food and wine festival or a wedding. A Special Licence can also be used to extend the hours or area of a licensed premises for a special occasion or event.
A special licence is valid for the particular event, or series of events, or social gathering, specified in the licence. There are two types of special licence:
- On-site special licence - allows the licensee to sell or supply alcohol for consumption on the site to people attending an event.
- Off-site special licence - allows the licensee to sell the licensee's alcohol for consumption somewhere else and supply free samples.
Making an Application
Applications must be lodged at least 20 working days (generally four weeks) before the date of the function. This is to allow the Police and Public Health to comment on your application. Exceptions can be made for unforeseen events, such as funerals. It's important to note that a 'working day' does not include weekends, statutory holidays or any day between 20 December and 15 January (inclusive).
To apply for a Special Licence, complete the application form attached below and submit it to the Council with the appropriate fee. You must provide sufficient detail on the form for the District Licensing Committee to understand your event and how it will be managed.
You may be contacted by the Council Inspector, Police or Public Health to discuss your application in detail, especially for larger events.
Forms for licence applications have been updated. Please ensure you use the latest version on this website - they are different from previous years.
- Application Form for Special Licence [PDF, 315 KB]
- Guidelines for Special Licence Application [PDF, 86 KB]
An information sheet is available that explains more detail about Special Licences and how to make an application.
For events where over 400 people are expected, you should also submit an Alcohol Management Plan detailing how you will deal with security, monitoring, interaction with local residents, and public health concerns. You can use the attached guidance and template to help you:
- Download the Guidelines for Alcohol Management at Large Events [PDF, 2874 KB]
- Download the Guidelines for Hosting Wine Events [PDF, 489 KB]
- Download a Template and Example of an Alcohol Management Plan [DOCX, 305 KB]
Events involving children
If you are planning an event that is child-focused, or to be held on school property, you should contact the Medical Officer of Health, on 03 364 1777, prior to making an application for a special licence.
The Medical Officer of Health may oppose applications for alcohol at child-focused events, such as school fairs, children's sports events and children's prizegivings, so it's best to discuss the circumstances of your event prior to making an application.
Special Licences for Conveyances
If you want to consume alcohol on a hired bus, for example on a journey home from a sports match, you can apply for a special licence to supply or sell alcohol to the passengers. A special licence cannot be issued for a bus trip where each individual brings their own alcohol to consume. A person applying for a special licence to supply or sell alcohol must take responsibility for controlling intoxication, provide non-alcoholic alternatives and sometimes food.
Deciding on a Special Licence Application
All Special Licences have to be decided by the District Licensing Committee. If your licence is not opposed by the Inspector or Police or Public Health, the Chairman can decide it on his own, based on the information you have given on the application form. If there is any opposition to the application, or there is insufficient information in your application to make a decision, the Committee may have to hold a full hearing where you will be invited to attend and answer questions. This takes a lot longer to organise, and will take longer than 20 working days, so you are advised to apply 8 weeks in advance if you think a full hearing may be needed.
Local Alcohol Policy
Selwyn District Council is in the process of adopting a Provisional Local Alcohol Policy.