Special alcohol licence

You need to apply for a special licence if you are:

  • Selling alcohol at an event
  • Including alcohol in a ticket price or as part of a service
  • Supplying alcohol free of charge, at either a ticketed event or one where donations are being collected
  • Private event such as a wedding or birthday celebration

Do you need a special alcohol licence?

You do not need to apply for a special license if alcohol is being supplied free of charge, or guests are bringing their own to a private event, as long as the event is not open to the public, and there is no cover/door charge for the private event.

In this instance, complete the Notification of Social Event form and submit it to us at least 10 days before the event.

If your event, or part of your event, is being held in a Public Place where alcohol is to be consumed, dispensation from Council is required to allow for this. 

Form: Notification for a BYO Event

We send your completed notification form to the New Zealand Police (Far North District) who may carry out monitoring of the event. There is no fee for this and no license is issued.  

If you also apply for dispensation for alcohol to be consumed in a Public Place, this application is forwarded to our Council's District Facilities Department. You will be notified if your application has been approved or not. There is no fee for this.

There are some restrictions on when BYO is permitted at events. Our special license flowchart can assist you, if you are unsure of the requirements.

Special license flowchart(PDF, 288KB)

Apply for a special alcohol licence

Step 1.Determine event size

  • Large event – attended by more than 400 people
  • Medium event – attended by 100 to 400 people
  • Small event – attended by less than 100 people

If you are planning a large-scale event, additional information is required including an Alcohol Management Plan.

Alcohol Management Plan Template

For event guidelines, visit The Health Promotion Agency’s website.

Guidelines for managing alcohol at large events

Step 2.Check applicable fee

The fee depends on the size of your event, and how many events (of similar nature) are applied for on one application. Further information is on the application form.

Step 4.Timeframe

Application must be made at least 20 working days prior to the event, or 40 working days for a large-scale event. 

Under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012, weekends, statutory holidays and any days from 20 December through to and including 15 January, are not considered working days. 

Summer holiday period

Please take the summer holiday period into consideration if you are applying for a special licence for an event between late December and mid-February.

Generally, an application for this period needs to be lodged by 18 November for a small or medium-scale event, to ensure it can be processed in time.

Step 5.Waiting for decision

The application is reviewed and reported on by the Alcohol Harm Reduction Officer at the New Zealand Police (Far North District), Medical Officer of Health at the Northland District Health Board, and one of our Licensing Inspectors.

If there are any issues or concerns with the application, or it is opposed by any of those mentioned above, you will be contacted.

The application is forwarded to the District Licensing Committee to consider. If your application is granted, we will issue the licence.  If declined, you will not receive a refund.

On-site special alcohol licence allows for the sale and supply of alcohol for consumption on the premises (or in a designated area) where the event is being held. This includes on a bus, train, ferry or other vehicle – called a conveyance style special licence.

Off-site special alcohol licence allows for the sale of alcohol to people to take away for consumption elsewhere. The licence holder may also supply samples of alcohol free of charge, for consumption on the premises.