This allows for the sale or drinking of alcohol at events. It is normally used to temporarily extend the hours or the area of a premises currently licensed, or to licence one-off events where no licence is currently held.

A special licence is valid for a particular event, a series of linked events, or a social gathering specified in the licence.

Apply for a special licence

Download and complete a special licence (on-site and off-site) application form [PDF, 890KB](external link) before you apply.

Please ensure you have read and understood the privacy statement, signed and dated your application. 

Applications must be lodged at least 20 working days(external link) before the event. Applications received outside this deadline may not be accepted by the District Licensing Committee (DLC) for consideration.

If you wish to apply for a number of events on one application, these events must be linked in some way, such as a series of related meetings, a series of related match dates for a club's sports season.

Special licence trading days information, dates and deadlines.(external link)

Temporary venue applications

We issue temporary venue agreements for one-off events that affect the established compliance of a building. 

You will need to prove that it is safe to host your event and that you can employ reasonable management procedures and/or temporary fire safety features.  

Applications will also require approval from Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ)(external link).

Apply for a temporary venue agreement(external link).

Who needs a special licence

A special licence may be required if alcohol is part of your event, e.g. if alcohol is being sold, or if your event is ticketed, whether cover charge, donations, payment for a meal, etc. and alcohol is consumed at the event. 

Remember, unlike tavern licences, there is no additional drink-up time permitted outside the trading hours granted for a special licence and must be incorporated within the hours you request in your application.  

The flowchart [PDF, 39 KB] guides you through the preliminary questions to ask when planning your event. We also have an information sheet [PDF, 262 KB]that provides useful information for planning your event.  

Please ensure you talk with Alcohol Licensing for specific advice about your event and to confirm whether your event needs a special licence.

BYO events

In general, BYO is permitted at private functions such as weddings and birthdays. A special licence generally is not required for this type of function.

For other events, BYO may not be a permitted activity (i.e. is unlawful). An alcohol licence might be required. Find out more about whether you require a special licence by referring to the flow chart link above.

Please note that a special licence does not authorise BYO.

Please ensure that you check licensing requirements with the Alcohol Licensing Team and lodge your applications well in advance of your event date and before you advertise your event, because:

  • we need to enquire into how you will be running and managing your event, and
  • you will want the security of knowing whether you will have a special licence granted.

Hiring a Christchurch City Council facility for your event

Please note that if you are hiring a Council facility and are required to have a special licence for alcohol but do not apply for one and have it granted, you risk having your facility's booking cancelled.

Holding an event in a public space

If you are planning to hold an event in a public place (park, reserve, road or square), an Event Permit will most likely be required.

For more information please contact the Events Partnerships & Development Team on or contact the Council on 03 941 8999.

The events team can also advise you on whether there are any other consents or approvals you might require, including:

If you are seeking to lease a footpath area outside your licenced premises as part of your event, please discuss with Alcohol Licensing and we can make a referral to the leasing team to arrange approval.

If your event is on private land and you are erecting a marquee or stage over a certain size you will still need to obtain a building consent. Contact us and ask to talk with the Duty Building Consent Officer.


  • Approvals and timelines for these approvals and consents are separate from Alcohol Licensing.  Some of the above permits and approvals need to be applied for well in advance (e.g. as early as 60 days) in advance of the event date.
  • Alcohol Licensing may not be able to assess your special licence application or issue your licence until we have received confirmation that other approvals and consents required for your event have been granted.

Short notice applications

Short notice applications (filing of application documents and payment of fee, less than 20 working days before the event date) must be accompanied by a letter explaining the reason for lateness for District Licensing Committee (DLC) consideration. 

You need to have a good reason as the Act refers to the reason for the lateness 'could not reasonably have been foreseen earlier'. 

If your reason for lateness is not accepted by the DLC your application will not proceed further. Please note that application fees are non-refundable.

Regardless of when your paperwork was filed, failure to make the payment (on the invoice issued to you) of the fee due for your application 20 working days before the event date will mean that your application is treated as a short-notice application. You will need to provide a letter explaining the reason for the late payment before your application can proceed any further. 

Please note that three statutory reporting agencies have the role of making inquiries, assessing and reporting on applications.

The Act gives both the Police and Medical Officer of Health 15 working days to report before your application can be referred to the DLC for consideration and a decision.

Please note that the Shop Trading Hours Act 1990, referring to Easter Sunday trading, does not override the requirements for the sale of alcohol under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 and the requirements for a special licence on sacrosanct days.

Payment of fees

The fees for processing your application are non-refundable and must be paid when you apply for your licence. Refer to the alcohol licence fees for all fees and any other charges related to alcohol licensing.

Most alcohol licensing fees are set by regulations.  However, any fees set by Council may be subject to annual review and any changes take effect on 1 July each year.

You will need to have an invoice from us before you can make your payment. This will be provided to you (in person or by email) when you file your application documents.

Payments can be made by cash or EFTPOS/Credit Card at a service desk or by internet banking. Internet banking payment account and reference details can be found on your invoice. 

We no longer accept cheque payments.

For internet banking, you will need to provide proof of payment that includes confirmation of the payment details (e.g. screenshot of the completed transaction). 

We can only process your application once we have both the proof of payment of fees and the required application form and documents. 

Failure to make the payment of the fee 20 working days before the event date will mean that your application is treated as a short-notice application, and you will need to provide a letter explaining the reason for the late payment before your application can proceed any further.  Please refer to the information about short notice applications on this page.

Host responsibility and alcohol at events

As a Host, regardless of whether your event requires a special licence or not, you still have a responsibility to ensure that you're providing a safe drinking environment at your event.

This means creating a responsible drinking environment and looking out for your guests, by ensuring the planning for the management of how you're going to run your event includes:

  • Setting drinking expectations in advance with those attending.
  • Keeping an eye on alcohol intake of guests.
  • Providing food and water.
  • Focusing activity on the social aspect of the occasion.
  • Looking after your guests.

Tips on good host responsibility can be found at:

Fundraising activities and alcohol as a prize

Are you planning a raffle, sweepstake, bingo, prize competition, a game of chance, or an instant game like scratch and win, where alcohol is the prize?

Alcohol is prohibited as a prize.

All these activities are regulated as Gambling Activities. The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) has the rules for running a gambling activity(external link) fact sheet for these various types of activities and promotions. Any questions about these types of activities should be directed to DIA.