Local Regulations and Licences

Alcohol (Liquor 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 the laws and regulations that apply to alcohol.

You must ensure you have:

  • The correct licences
  • A host responsibility programme in place to care for your patrons

To apply for an alcohol licence, please call Council on 06 356 8199 and ask to speak to a licensing inspector, who will either send you the forms or arrange for a preliminary interview.

Alcohol licence application process

If you want to sell or supply alcohol, you must apply for the appropriate licence. Each licence has its own application form, a non-refundable fee and requirements for specific additional documentation.

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

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 by the applicant in the Manawatu Standard.

Once the above reports and supporting documents have been received, the Licensing Inspector will write a final report and forward this (including Police and MOH reports) to the DLC. The DLC will make a determination on whether an application is approved. If there is opposition from Police/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 proceed to a hearing.

Types of alcohol licences


An on-licence allows you to sell or supply alcohol for consumption on:

  • Premises - bar, pub, tavern, nightclub, hotel, restaurant, café
  • Conveyances - bus, boat, plane, train, vehicle
  • Endorsed premises - BYO


An off-licence allows you to sell, supply or deliver alcohol for consumption off the premises:

  • Premises - bottle stores, wine stores, supermarkets, grocery stores, gift baskets
  • Endorsed - caterers, auctioneers

Club licence

A club licence enables enables social, sport and corporate clubs to sell, supply and serve alcohol for consumption on club premises to club members, their authorised guests and authorised visitors (members of clubs with reciprocal visiting rights). If you are unsure about whether some clubs have reciprocal visiting rights, contact the clubs in question to confirm.

Special licence

A special licence enables you to sell or supply alcohol on a given premises or conveyance for the duration of a specific occasion or event:

  • Sporting event
  • Wine tasting
  • Bus trip
  • Party where alcohol is being sold
  • Public party where alcohol is being sold or supplied
  • Party on leased premises where alcohol is being sold or supplied
  • Event where tickets are being sold

What is a manager's certificate?

A certified general manager must be on duty at all times when alcohol is being sold or supplied to the public except in the case of most special licences and endorsed licences.

If the certified manager is ill, absent, dismissed or resigned, a licensee can appoint a temporary or acting manager. These people must be adequately trained with the DLC, the Alcohol Regulatory Licensing Authority (ARLA) and the Police notified. Clubs must appoint at least one manager who holds a general manager's certificate.

What is a temporary authority?

If you have purchased a licensed business, you must apply for temporary authority to operate until your own licence has been approved.

Alcohol licence application fees

The fee regime for the alcohol licensing system involves assessing the risk that an operation might create, including the type of premises, the hours of operation and any enforcement issues over the past 18 months.

The fees are set by the Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Fees) Regulations 2013, over which Council has no control.

Alcohol licence fee calculator

You can check what your licence will cost using the calculator on the Auckland Council website.

Calculate your alcohol licence fee

Compliance fees

  • Town Planning Certificate (Liquor): $300 deposit, then billed per hour at actual cost of officer's time per hour
  • Certificate of Compliance (Building - Liquor): $103 deposit, then billed at actual cost of officer's time per hour

Special licence fees

All special licences have to fit into one of three classes:

  • Class 1: one large event, more than three medium events, more than four small events
  • Class 2: three to 12 small events, one to three medium events
  • Class 3: one or two small events

Event size definitions

Large event - an event that PNCC believes on reasonable grounds will have patronage of more than 400 people

Medium event - an event that PNCC believes on reasonable grounds will have patronage of between 100 and 400 people

Small event - an event that PNCC believes on reasonable grounds will have patronage of fewer than 100 people.

Fees payable for special licences

Special Licence Class Fee (GST incl)
Class 1 $575
Class 2 $207
Class 3 $63.25

Object to an alcohol licence

Anyone over the age of 18 who has a 'greater interest' than the public in a licence application may object to the licence being granted or renewed.

A person with a greater interest may be a resident or business located in the same street as the 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 & Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 states:

a. The sale, supply and consumption of alcohol should be undertaken safely and responsibly; and

b. The harm caused by the excessive or inappropriate consumption of alcohol should be minimised.

It 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 on the premises to engage 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 about the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012, please see the Ministry of Justice website 

Make an objection

If you'd like to object to a new or renewed alcohol licence, you'll need to notify the District Licencing Committee in writing that you wish to object and the reasons why. You must refer to relevant criteria and make sure to include your full name, address and contact telephone number.

File your objection with the committee within 15 working days of the first public notice announcing an application has been made.

Send 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
  • send a copy of your objection to the applicant

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 have greater effect if you attend the hearing personally and speak in support of your submission.

Complain about existing licensed premises

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

Please contact the Palmerston North City Council on 06 356 8199 for further information.

Palmerston North Alcohol Control Bylaw

The Alcohol Control Bylaw aims to reduce the potential for public nuisance and offensive behaviour by people drinking and becoming intoxicated in a public place. It is to also promote a safe city environment for the use and enjoyment of the public, by reducing the potential for damage to public and private property caused by people drinking and becoming intoxicated in a public place.

If you require further information please contact a Licensing Inspector on 06 356 8199