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 the particular event, or series of linked events, or social gathering, specified in the 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 and alcohol is consumed at the event.
Use our Special Licence flowchart [PDF, 29 KB] to check if you need a Special Licence for your event.
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:
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 facilities booking cancelled.
Applications must be lodged at least 20 working days before the date of the event. Applications received outside this deadline may not be accepted by the District Licensing Committee (DLC) for consideration.
Please read the checklist on the form to make sure you include all the extra documents we need with your application. Incomplete applications will be returned.
Series of events: If you wish to apply for a number of events on one application, these events must be linked in some way, e.g. a series of related meetings; a series of related match dates for a club's sports season.
Also check the timelines and trading days information for alcohol licensing.
Short notice applications (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.
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 requeiremtns for a special licence on sacrosanct days.
View the Alcohol licensing fees [PDF, 1.5 MB]. The fees for processing your application are non-refundable, and must be paid when you apply for your licence. Please note that application fees are non-refundable.
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 our for your guests, by ensuring the planning for management of how you're going to run your event includes:
Tips on good host responsibility can be found at:
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.
These documents give more information about applying for and holding a special licence: