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Liquor License Applications in South Africa

In South Africa, a liquor license is applied for and is issued under the prerequisites of the Liquor Act applicable to each province.

There are a number of mistakes that many people make with liquor license applications. This article will help explain a few of the things you should know before you apply for a license to sell liquor.

Liquor License Applications

Complying with the type of liquor license applied for

In South Africa, liquor licenses are available in a number of different types. Each type has its own separate requirements for the premises it is applied for.

It is therefore important to be aware of the requirements for the specific type of liquor license you are applying for and to ensure that your premises conforms to these requirements.

Having the correct zoning for your premises

  • It is important to ensure that your premises is correctly zoned.
  • Each zone has its own requirements.
  • Therefore it is also important to ensure that your premises complies with its zone requirements.
  • If your property is incorrectly zoned, you will not be permitted to trade and the expenses incurred trying to obtain your license will be wasted.
Applying for a liquor license before completion of premises

You may apply for your license before the completion of your premises.

Before doing so, you have to determine what the license requirements are for your premises and begin to make changes according to these requirements.

What happens if the premises are modified after the liquor license was granted?

If your premises are expanded or changed after your license is granted, you will have to apply to the Liquor Board to expand your license.

What happens if the person applying for the liquor license has an alcohol related criminal record?

In terms of the Liquor Act, a person with a criminal record may apply for a liquor license.

However, people with alcohol-related criminal records may not apply for a liquor license.

Addressing objections that were lodged after the liquor license application was approved

After a license application is lodged, any objections from the surrounding community as well as a police report from the liquor officer will be delivered.

Although there may be objections to your license application, these objections can be dealt with effectively and your application can still be successful.

In this case, the Liquor Board will ask for more evidence if the board feels that the objections are serious.

The Liquor Board will then hold a hearing where you will need legal representation. Any person providing evidence will do so in person on the day of the hearing.

It is crucial to have good legal representation in order to ensure a successful hearing.

Renewing a liquor license

A liquor license must be renewed every year. If a license is not renewed, it will lapse, after which a new liquor license will have to be applied for.

How long does it take to apply for a liquor license?

It takes on average about 4 to 5 months to apply for a new license. Therefore, it is vital make sure that you renew your license each year.

When are liquor license applications advertised?

Liquor license applications are advertised in the Government Gazette on the first Friday of each month.

Ensure that you apply on time otherwise you may have to wait until the following month. This may possibly result in the lapsing of your current license.

Are liquor licenses owned by individuals?

When a license is granted, it is granted to the premises and not to an individual person.

Therefore it is not possible to transfer a license from one person to another for it to be used for a different premises.

The Liquor Board would prefer to assess and license each premises individually. This is because the more licensed premises there are, the better control the Liquor Board has.

Liquor License considerations

The following aspects often carry substantial weight in the consideration of each application (these may vary from province to province):

  • It must be shown that the granting of the liquor license is in the public interest.
  • The applicant must be of good character.
  • The premises for which the license is to be obtained must be suitable for use by the applicant for the purpose of the license. Land use rights and the zoning of your property (whether or not you are prohibited from carrying on certain business etc.) are crucial. 
  • The applicant must also show that the granting of the license does not prejudice –
    • residents of a residential area;
    • older persons or the frail;
    • school children under the age of 18; and
    • congregants of a religious institution located in the vicinity of the proposed premises.

Van Deventer & Van Deventer Incorporated - Attorneys Sandton

For assistance with your liquor license application, please contact us.

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