Special Licences

What is a Special Licence?

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 fundraising event.  A special licence can also be used to extend the hours or area of licensed premises for a special occasion or event.

Which events require a Special Licence?

If you are holding an event where alcohol will be for sale then a Special Licence is required. Alcohol is deemed to be for sale if:

A Special Licence is intended for an event or activity which is outside the usual or regular activities of the applicant, i.e. has some ‘Speciality’ and is not just normal business.

Can a Special Licence cover several events?

A Special Licence can cover a series of related events or activities outside the usual activities of the applicant.  The events must be located in the same place, e.g. community hall.

Types of Special Licence

There are two types of special licence:

When should a Special Licence be applied for?

Applications must be lodged at least 20 working days before the date of the function.  This is to allow for the processing of the application (Special Licence Flow Chart). The earlier the application is received, the better.  Exceptions can be made for unforeseen events, such as funerals.

It is important to note that a ‘working day’ does not include weekends, statutory holidays or any day between 20 December and 15 January (inclusive).

Special Licence applications must be received with payment by 21 November 2018 for any event between 19 December 2018 to 14 February 2019.

How much does a Special Licence cost?

The Special Licence application fee varies depending on the size of your event and the number of events.

Events involving children

If you are planning to have alcohol at an event that is child-focussed, such as school fairs, children’s sports events and children’s prize giving’s, it is advisable to discuss the event (prior to lodging the application) with an Alcohol Licensing Officer at Canterbury District Health Board (03) 364 1777.

Applying for a Special Licence

The organisation or individual selling the alcohol and receiving the profit must apply for the Special Licence.  The application form must be completed fully with all the required information. The more information you provide the easier the process will be.  The flow chart for issuing a Special Licence outlines the process your application will go through. 

You will be contacted by the Licensing Inspector, Police or Public Health to discuss your application in detail, especially for larger events.

All Special Licences are decided by the District Licensing Committee based on criteria in the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act. Your application will need to show that your event will meet the Object of the Act.

If there is opposition to your application, or there is insufficient information in your application to make a decision, the Committee may hold a full hearing where you will be invited to attend and answer questions.  This takes a lot longer to organise so apply well in advance of the event.

Application Form of Special Licence

Large Events

For events where over 400 people are expected, you must also submit an Alcohol Management Plan detailing how you will deal with managing alcohol across the site, security, monitoring, interaction with local residents, and public health concerns.  You can use the attached guidance information to help you.

Guidelines for Hosting Wine Events

Guidelines for Alcohol Management at Large Events