Local Regulations and Licences

Alcohol licensing

If you’re a bar owner or operator, club manager, restaurateur or manager of a venue where alcohol is sold or supplied, you need to know about the alcohol laws and regulations.

Alcohol licence applications and the process

You must have the correct licences and a host responsibility programme to sell and supply alcohol. To apply for any alcohol licence, call a Licensing Inspector on 06 356 8199. They will talk you through the application process and post or email you the applicable forms. The application checklist will help you to lodge a complete application. Once you have completed the application form, contact an inspector to arrange a pre-lodgement meeting. Your application won’t be accepted without this. 

Each licence has its own application form, a non-refundable fee and documentation requirements.

Applications for a licence must be made to the Palmerston North District Licensing Committee (DLC) on the appropriate form with supporting information.

Once lodged, applications are forwarded to the Police and, in some cases, the Medical Officer of Health (MoH) who then forwards a report to the DLC. All applications are required to be publicly notified.

The licensing inspector then writes a final report and forwards it, along with the other reports, to the DLC. The DLC decides whether an application is approved. If there is opposition from Police or the MoH, or objections from the public, it will be heard at a DLC hearing.

If the application is within Council policy and no objections are received, a licence will be issued. Otherwise, the application will go to a hearing.

If you have convictions

You can discuss any potential impact on your application with a licensing inspector to see if it is likely that your application may be opposed. This will give you a reasonable indication before you apply and pay the fee.

Types of alcohol licences

On-licence

An on-licence allows you to sell and supply alcohol for consumption on these types of premises:

  • restaurant, café, hotel, tavern, nightclub, BYO premises or caterers.

Off-licence

An off-licence allows you to sell, supply or deliver alcohol for consumption (not serve it) off the premises such as:

  • bottle stores, wine shops, supermarkets, grocery stores, through internet distribution or auctioneer.

Club licence

A club licence enables social, sport and corporate clubs to sell, supply and serve alcohol for consumption on club premises to club members, authorised guests and visitors. 

All clubs must:

  • be incorporated
  • have an appointed duty manager who is responsible for the sale and supply of alcohol
  • have a secretary, and
  • proceeds from the sale of alcohol must belong to the club.

An alcohol licence is specific to the licensee and the premises, and temporary authorities can’t be granted to club licensed premises. If the licensee moves their business to other premises they need to apply for a new licence for the new premises. Or, if the owner of the business changes, a new licence needs to be applied for by the new owner.

Special licence (on/off)

With a special licence you can sell and supply alcohol for a specific occasion or event, such as:

  • sporting event
  • wine tasting
  • bus trip
  • party where alcohol is being sold
  • public party where alcohol is being sold and supplied
  • party on leased premises where alcohol is being sold and supplied
  • event where tickets are being sold.

Temporary authority

If you buy an existing licensed premises and wish to continue selling alcohol, you need to apply for a temporary authority to operate until your own licence has been granted. A temporary authority is valid for up to three months and will only be issued if the existing licence for the premises is still current. You need to apply for the temporary authority at least 20 working days before the takeover date.

Manager’s certificate (new and renewal)

Someone holding a manager's certificate must be on duty at all times alcohol is being sold or supplied on licensed premises. The manager is responsible for compliance with the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act and the conditions of the licence.

If it is a club licence, a certified manager isn’t required to be onsite, but must be easily contactable at all times.

New manager's certificate

You must be over the age of 20 before you can apply for a manager’s certificate. You also need to be currently working in licensed premises and have a minimum of five months’ experience working in licensed premises.

You’ll need to provide the following with your application:

  • a copy of your licence controller qualification (LCQ)
  • a photocopy of your ID (photo driver's licence or passport or Housing New Zealand 18+ card)
  • a reference from your current employer supporting your application and confirming your suitability to be a certified manager
  • a character reference attesting to your character and reputation

How to get a licence controller qualification

A licence controller qualification (LCQ) is a prescribed qualification referred to in the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 that demonstrates you have had relevant training. All applicants for a manager’s certificate are required to hold an LCQ certificate. To get a licence controller qualification you can contact ServiceIQ on 0800 863 693 or the following approved course providers.

Renewing your manager’s certificate

A manager’s certificate lasts one year from the date of issue for the first application and three years after that. If you let the certificate expire you’ll need to apply for a new manager's certificate. It is your responsibility to ensure you renew your certificate on time. The process is the same as for filing a new manager's certificate application.

Council sends out renewal applications about six weeks before your certificate expires. If you haven’t received a renewal application pack please call a licensing inspector on 06 356 8199 to get an application posted or emailed to you.

Complete the application form and contact an inspector to arrange a pre-lodgement check. Your application won’t be accepted without an appointment with an inspector.

You must provide the following with your application:

  • a copy of your licence controller qualification
  • a photocopy of your ID (photo driver's licence or passport or Housing New Zealand 18+ card)
  • if your manager’s certificate wasn’t issued in Palmerston North, submit a copy of your manager’s certificate or most recent renewal.

Building and planning compliance

For a new on-licence, off-licence or club licence, you need to apply for both of the certificates below. The licensing inspector will supply requirements when sending you the application forms.

Town Planning Certificate

This certificate is required to ensure that the premises comply with Resource Management Act and District Plan requirements.

  • once the application is received it takes approximately 20 working days to process
  • applications should include all supporting information and documentation, particularly planned usage of floor areas for all buildings on site, proposed or existing opening hours and parking requirements for each activity on site. Details of what's required are included on the application form
  • Fee – Town Planning Certificate (Liquor): $300 deposit, then billed per hour at actual cost of officer's time per hour

Certificate of Compliance (Building)

This compliance certificate is required to ensure that the premises comply with the Building Code.

  • Fee – Certificate of Compliance (Building – Liquor): $103 deposit then billed at actual cost of officer's time per hour

Alcohol licence application fees

To find out about fees call a licensing inspector on 06 356 8199 or see the Ministry of Justice website for the fee system for alcohol licensing (external site)

How to object to an alcohol licence

Anyone over the age of 18 who has a ‘greater interest’ than the public in a licence application can object to the licence being granted or renewed. For example, a resident or business located in the same street as a premises applying for a licence.

Someone who is concerned about the effects of alcohol on the community but lives in a different area may not meet the criteria for 'greater interest'.

Criteria for objecting

The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act lists the following criteria as the only grounds for objecting to an application for an alcohol licence:

  • suitability of the applicant
  • any relevant local alcohol policy
  • days and hours when alcohol will be sold
  • the design and layout of any proposed premises
  • whether the applicant is engaged in, or proposes to engage on the premises in, the sale of goods other than alcohol, low-alcohol refreshments, non-alcoholic refreshments and food; and if so, which goods
  • whether the applicant is engaged in, or proposes on the premises to engage in, the provision of services other than those directly related to the sale of alcohol, low-alcohol refreshments, non-alcoholic refreshments and food; and if so, which services
  • whether the amenity and good order of the locality would likely be reduced, to more than a minor extent, by the effects of the issue of the licence
  • whether the amenity and good order of the locality are already so badly affected by existing licences that it is not desirable to issue any further licences
  • whether the applicant has appropriate systems, staff and training to comply with the law.

Trade-related objections from other licensed businesses are not valid grounds for objection under the Act.

For more information see the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 (external site)

Make an objection

If you'd like to object to a new or renewed alcohol licence, you'll need to write to the District Licencing Committee with your reasons. Make sure you refer to relevant criteria and include your full name, address and contact phone number.

File your objection with the committee within 15 working days of the first public notice announcing an application has been made, by sending your letter to:

The Secretary
District Licensing Committee
Palmerston North City Council
Private Bag 11034
Palmerston North

What happens next?

When the committee receives your objection, they will send you an acknowledgement letter, and send the applicant a copy of your objection.

If the committee believes your objection meets the criteria of section 105 of the Act, they will notify all involved parties of a date and time for a hearing.

You can choose not to attend the hearing, but your objection will be stronger if you attend and speak in support of your submission.

How to make a complaint about existing licensed premises

To make a complaint about an existing licensed premise or the terms of a licence, contact us on 06 356 8199 and provide specific details about your concerns.