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Obtaining A Business Liquor Licence? The Needs To Know – Lawpath

Obtaining A Business Liquor Licence? The Needs To Know – Lawpath

A condensed guide to liquor licences

26th October 2018
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Providing alcohol can really help mix up the atmosphere of your business whether it is providing seasonal cocktails along with food or moving from a small bar into a large bar. Regardless, the process can seem dizzying with all the fees and different types of applications. Here is a concise guide to entering the world of liquor licences.

Type of Business

There are 14 different types of liquor licences in NSW that one could apply for so here are the most common situations where you would apply for a licence. The break down includes

  1. Cafe/Restaurant = on-premise licence
  2. Bar with less than 100 Patrons = small bar
  3. Pub/Large bar = hotel or general bar
  4. Nightclub = on premises
  5. Registered club e.g RSL = club

The liquor licence selector tool allows you to quickly work out which licence will suit you best. This comes down to a few questions such as whether you would be serving mainly alcohol like a bar or with meals such as in a restaurant. Things to consider include your location, trading hours, gaming machines and the size of the venue.


Adam owns a small restaurant so he would be serving alcohol at his venue the restaurant. The main business Adam carries out is selling food to his customers with occasional servings of wine and beer to accompany. In this case, he would apply for an on-premise licence of the restaurant class

Liquor licence restrictions

The first thing to consider is of course to obtain a responsible service of alcohol (RSA). However, for a licensee there are additional qualifications required, they are the licensee training and the advanced licensing training. To work out how the licence restrictions will impact your business it is best to first formulate a business plan that way you can decide for example if serving food is a priority or being in the CBD is critical for your idea.  You can always consult one of our business lawyers as well to work out which licence will give you the best value and the right amount of restrictions on trading.

Cost of a liquor licence

The costs of the licence vary from licencee to licencee and are similar in price from $385 for a small bar to $770 for a general hotel. This should be factored into your startup costs as there are additional costs for example a full hotel class is $2752. Those prices are just the application prices inclusive of fees, there is also an annual renewal fee which may include risks.


Elizabeth plans to open a small bar in the Sydney CBD that can serve under 100 customers. There are no gaming machines and there is no takeaway alcohol. This means she will have to pay $385 for the application including fees and a $213 base payment annually for the liquor licence along with $2000 for being in a high-risk area of Sydney CBD or Kings Cross. Elizabeth will not have to pay the $5,000 risk fee annually for trading past 1:30 am as her small bar licence means she can serve alcohol from 12pm-2am and be exempt from those fees.


In the end, it is important to have a realistic and practical expectation of what your business is and where you see it heading. Not having a licence or acting outside of your current licence and selling alcohol can land you a fine of either $110,000 or 12months in jail and in some circumstances as much as $44,000, so being aware of the costs that you may encounter and the restrictions on trading should all be factored in when deciding which licence is right for you.

Need further advice? Contact a LawPath Consultant on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest legal marketplace.

Justin Pasqualino

Justin is a legal intern at Lawpath as part of the content team. He is currently studying a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Economics at UTS.