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Licensing Act 2003

You need a licence to supply alcohol, regulated entertainment, or late night refreshments. These are known as licensable activities.

Common places that need a licence include pubs, supermarkets, hotels, and restaurants.

Events or private functions that include licensable activities also need a licence.

On this page:

Licensing Act 2003 policy

The Licensing Act 2003 covers any premises that wishes to provide licensable activities.

Our statement of licensing policy is a legally required document and is reviewed every five years. It outlines the steps we take to promote the licensing objectives which are:

  • prevention of crime and disorder
  • public safety
  • prevention of public nuisance
  • protection of children from harm.

It also advises how we will administer licences and what we consider important in an application.

You should be familiar with our policy before applying for a licence.

Read our Licensing Act 2003 policy (PDF) [1MB]

Licensable activities and exemptions

A licence will be needed for any of the following activities, unless they are in an exempt category.

Sale or supply of alcohol

This is the sale or supply by retail of alcohol.

It includes:

  • the supply of alcohol by a club or to a member of a club
  • alcohol to be consumed on site
  • alcohol to be consumed off site
  • alcohol supplied with a meal
  • online alcohol sales
  • alcohol included within the price of a ticket.

Regulated entertainment

This is certain types of entertainment provided in the presence of an audience. It includes:

  • the performance of a play
  • the exhibition of a film
  • an indoor sporting event
  • boxing or wrestling
  • a performance of live music
  • any playing of recorded music
  • performance of dance
  • entertainment of a similar description, such as karaoke.

Exemptions from regulated entertainment

Some common exemptions include:

  • the performance of live music or the playing of recorded music if it is incidental to another activity which is not regulated entertainment
  • amplified live or recorded music between 8am and 11pm in premises licensed to sell alcohol for consumption on site provided the audience is no more than 500 people
  • unamplified live or recorded music, plays, dance performances and film exhibitions between 8am and 11pm in any premises provided the audience is no more than 500 people
  • morris dancing or dancing of a similar nature.

This list is not exhaustive.

Further general guidance on exempt regulated entertainment, is available below:

Read our  deregulated entertainment guide (PDF) [8KB] . You can also read the full Deregulation Act 2015 online.

Read our  Live Music Act 2012 summary (PDF) [44KB] . You can also read the full Live Music Act 2012 online.

Read our  incidental music summary (PDF) [38KB]

Read the Entertainment Amendment Order 2013 and Entertainment Amendment Order 2014.

Late night refreshment

This is hot food or hot drink supplied to members of the public between 11pm and 5am.

Hot food or drink is food or drink heated above ambient air temperature.

It includes hot food or drink which is delivered to a customer.

Exemptions from late night refreshment

Some common exemptions include hot food and drink that is:

  • supplied free of charge, which includes no entry fee or qualifying purchase
  • supplied by a registered charity or by a person authorised by a registered charity
  • supplied on a vehicle that is not parked (even just temporarily)
  • supplied from hotels, or similar premises, to residents and guests
  • supplied from a staff canteen to staff
  • supplied from a vending machine which is coin operated by the customer with no staff involvement (this applies only to hot drinks, not hot food).

Types of licences

There are three main types of licence.

They are:

  • a premises licence which covers a single defined and fixed area or an event that does not meet the criteria for a Temporary Event Notice. If selling alcohol you will also need a Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) who must hold a Personal Licence
  • a club premises certificate which covers certain types of members clubs
  • Temporary Event Notice (TEN) which covers short term licensable activities.

The application forms and process to apply for these licences is defined by law.

For further information and how to apply please choose from one of the licences above.

Contact us

You can contact us if you have any questions about licensable activities.


Phone: 023 8028 5505

Licensing Services
New Forest District Council
Appletree Court
Beaulieu Road
SO43 7PA

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