Licensing Act 2003 (alcohol & entertainment licences)

The Licensing Act 2003 provides a system of regulation the sale or supply of alcohol, regulated entertainment and late night refreshment. The Home Office has responsibility for this legislation.

Women's Night Safety Toolkit

This toolkit is about taking practical steps together to make our area safer for women at night. Everyone should feel empowered to play their part in creating positive change and whatever your area of work, we encourage you to pledge your commitment to women’s safety.

(COVID-19) - How the rules change on 19 July 2021

Businesses and venues

All remaining closed businesses and venues such as nightclubs and adult entertainment venues will be able to reopen.

All capacity limits at sporting, entertainment, or business events will be lifted.

Hospitality venues such as pubs, restaurants and bars will no longer be required to provide table service or follow other social distancing rules.

All businesses should follow the principles set out in the working safely guidance. Whilst the Government is no longer instructing people to work from home if they can, the Government would expect and recommend a gradual return over the summer.

Employers will still have a legal duty to manage risks to those affected by their business. The way to do this is to carry out a health and safety risk assessment, including the risk of COVID-19, and to take reasonable steps to mitigate the risks you identify. Working Safely guidance sets out a range of mitigations employers should consider including:

  • cleaning surfaces that people touch regularly;
  • identifying poorly-ventilated areas in the venue and taking steps to improve air flow;
  • ensuring that staff and customers who are unwell do not attend the workplace or venue;
  • communicating to staff and customers the measures you have put in place.

We encourage organisations in higher risk settings to use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry, in order to reduce the risk of COVID-19. This will especially be the case in large crowded settings where people are likely to be in close proximity to others outside their household. The Government reserves the right to mandate certification in certain venues at a later date if necessary.

To support organisations and individuals in these settings, the NHS COVID Pass will be made available through the NHS App, NHS.UK, or as a letter that can be requested by ringing NHS 119. Visitors will also be able to show text or email confirmation of test results. Organisations should ensure they are in compliance with all legal obligations, including on equalities.

There are some settings where the NHS COVID Pass should not be used as a condition of entry, in order to ensure access for all. This includes essential services and essential retailers which have been able to stay open throughout the pandemic.

Businesses are also encouraged to continue displaying QR codes for customers wishing to check in using the NHS COVID-19 app, or to continue collecting customer contact details to support NHS Test and Trace, however this will no longer be a legal requirement.

Business and Planning Act 2020

The latest information including the Section 172F statement template

The Licensing Authority is aware many licensed premises are considering a possible extension of outside areas for the consumption of alcohol. Please be advised any extension to the outside area may require permission from Table & Chairs Licensing

Currently it is likely this area is not covered on your premises licence for the supply by retail of alcohol without a variation of the premises licence.

We are keen to work and support the licensed trade at this very difficult time, we must remain focused on the licensing objectives and have some concerns relating to noise issues with reference to the prevention of public nuisance. There are also added concerns with street drinking and drinking in public places.

It is therefore recommended that any changes being considered to any outside areas for the consumption of alcohol is highlighted to the Licensing Authority and the Police Licensing Team at the earliest opportunity.

Licence fees

Licensing Act 2003 fees are set centrally. The Licensing Authority does not have flexibility on this matter and the Act does not provide any mechanism to refund licence fees. Reminder letters shall be sent when this is due.

We are keen to support and work with the licensed trade during these ongoing challenging times and are fully aware some licence holders may currently have difficulty with this payment at this time. If your business has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions, please make contact with us by emailing While there is a requirement for the payment to be made, on a case by case basis, we will consider delaying the imposition of any suspension of the premises licence.

Late Night Levy

Southampton City Council introduced the late night levy in 2015. After consultation the matter was brought back before the council on 18 November 2020 when members unanimously voted to end the levy. The levy will therefore cease as of 1 April 2021. This is the earliest date it can be stopped. Despite the restriction placed on the hospitality trade through 2020, the late night levy still has to be charged by the authority. If, as a result of coronavirus restrictions, paying the levy is difficult, contact the licensing team to discuss. Any monies collected from the levy will be put to one side ready to support services in the night time economy once restrictions are lifted.

Dealing with non-compliance

If you are operational but struggling with specific conditions due to the pandemic, please contact us and make us aware you may be breaching conditions. We will consider each case on its own merits and weigh up the impact of potential breaches on the licensing objectives to establish if there is a need for flexibility.

If it is determined that non-compliance with a licence condition cannot be temporarily disregarded, licence holders would be required to rectify any breaches as soon as reasonably practicable and with communications be maintained with your designated officer.

New emergency premises closure requirements brought in by the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closure) (England) Regulations 2020 (‘the Business Closure Regulations’) gives councils powers to close certain businesses and other venues that involve social contact without essential grounds for this to take place. These powers are also held by the Police and other Local Authority officers.

Licensed premises found to be breaching the legislative framework in place to prevent coronavirus may face formal action with consideration towards a premises licence review application with a view to revoking the licence.

Alcohol Delivery Service

Information relating to an alcohol delivery service is available.


Detailed information and copies of forms for applications for premises licences, personal licences and club premises certificates and the city council's guidance notes are available from the individual page links in the general guidance section.

Please note that all forms are prescribed by law, and the city council has no control or discretion over their format.


If valid representations are made in respect of an application, a hearing by the Licensing (Licensing and Gambling) Sub-Committee may be necessary. The agendas and papers for these hearings will be published by the Democratic Services team prior to the hearing.


The sale or supply of alcohol, provision of regulated entertainment or late night refreshment must be authorised by a premises licence, club premises certificate or Temporary Event Notice (TEN). The penalty for doing so without an authorisation is severe - an unlimited fine and/or up to six months' imprisonment. In addition, anyone authorising alcohol sales must hold a personal licence (or have given a TEN).

Businesses buying alcohol from wholesalers: provisions from 1 April 2017

From 1 April 2017 all businesses selling alcohol to the public will need to ensure that the UK wholesalers they buy alcohol from have been approved by HMRC under the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (AWRS). They will need to check the wholesaler’s Unique Registration Number (URN) against the HMRC online database

More information is available from the Home Office.

If a business is found to have purchased alcohol from an unapproved wholesaler, they may be liable to a penalty or could even face criminal prosecution and have their alcohol stock seized.

Tables and chairs outside premises

If you wish to place tables and chairs on the highway outside your premises, you will need permission from the highways team

Movie and music licensing

Whether not the authority of a premises licence, club premises certificate or temporary event notice is required, the performance or reproduction of any copyright sound or visual work will need permission from the copyright owner. For more information contact PRS for Music Ltd. and Phonographic Performance Ltd. in respect of performances of music and recorded music or the Motion Picture Licensing Company Ltd. (trading as MPLC) and Filmbank Distributors Ltd. (t/a Filmbank Media) in respect of film or video works. The Independent Cinema Office may be able to advise in respect of the showing of copyright film or video recordings in a community setting.

Please note that the licensing authority has no involvement in these processes.

Brewing alcohol

You will need authority under the Licensing Act 2003 (premises licence, club premises certificate or temporary event notice) to sell alcohol, but you may also need to be licensed by HM Revenue and Customs, if you want to brew alcohol or distil alcohol and duty may need to be paid on any alcohol that you produce. In such circumstances you should also to contact Environmental Health and Trading Standards for advice.

Drinking in public places/Tables and chairs outside premises

Southampton has five Drinking Control Areas under Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPO). This may affect your business if you serve alcohol or permit your customers to consume alcohol outside your premises in a public place and you do not have either that area clearly indicated in your premises licence or do not have permission from the Highways teams for tables and chairs on the highway.

The 5 locations are listed below. These are all in place to assist in reducing anti-social behaviour associated with street drinking. It provides the police with a power to require alcohol to be surrendered. With the exception of Shirley they are the commercial areas:

  • City centre
  • Bitterne
  • Portswood
  • Shirley (Extends West from Hill Lane to Millbrook Road)
  • Woolston

Other information