Alcohol licensing: guidance

Guidance on alcohol licensing, personal licences and alcohol byelaws.


When selling alcohol on licensed premises, the sale must be authorised generally or specifically by a Personal Licence Holder. The designated premises manager must possess a personal licence. In many premises, other members of staff also attain personal licences so that they can also authorise sales, conduct staff training, and as a matter of general best practice.

Personal Licence Holders therefore have a vital job within the licensed trade. They authorise the sale of alcohol in both on and off sales businesses and ensure that each and every sale is legal. This is a considerable responsibility and, as such, Personal Licence Holders have two important obligations:-

1. They must undergo refresher training every 5 years to refresh their knowledge of the licensing regime, and send the training certificate to the relevant Licensing Board; and

2. They must apply to renew their personal licence every ten years, and lodge the renewal application no later than 3 months before expiry date of the licence.

Personal licence renewal – important information

The Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 came into full effect in September 2009. As such, Personal Licence Holders who first obtained their licence at the introduction of the existing regime need to renew their personal licence for the first time.

It is strongly recommended that these Personal Licence Holders take immediate action to undergo training and renew their licence.

In August 2018 we issued a communications document for personal licence holders, the trade and Licensing Boards to assist with the effective communication of arrangements to all stakeholders.

The Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005: liquor personal licence holder training accreditation document sets out the appropriate training qualifications for Personal Licence Holders.

This is issued by Scottish Ministers using powers under regulation 2 of the Licensing Qualification (Scotland) Regulations 2007, accrediting the appropriate qualification (past or present), of which one must be held; in order to renew a personal licence.

The accreditation document also makes clear what current qualifications must be held when applying now for a personal licence for the first time under the same power.

It also sets out which course is to be taken in order to demonstrate compliance with the law on refresher training using powers under regulation 2 of the Personal Licence (Training) (Scotland) Regulations 2013.

Personal licence refresher training

The holder of a personal licence must also undergo refresher training every 5 years to ensure their licence remains valid.

Gaining the refresher qualification is not sufficient in itself. Personal Licence Holders are obliged to provide evidence to the Board that they have complied with the requirement to undertake training, in the form of the original or copy of the Scottish Certificate for Personal Licence Holders (Refresher) at SCQF Level 6, together with their full name, address, date of birth and licence number.

Personal Licence Holders must submit such evidence to the Board after they have completed the training. This evidence may be submitted to the Board at any time afterwards, up to 3 months after the expiry of the 5 year period during which they undertook the training. If a personal licence holder fails to submit the required evidence to the Board, the Board must revoke the licence holder’s personal licence.

It is important therefore that Personal Licence Holders undertake the refresher training in good time and submit their course certificate to the Licensing Board that issued their personal licence. The refresher training is a half day course offered by a wide variety of commercial trainers at a reasonable cost. There is no fee for submitting your refresher training certificate to your local authority Licensing Board.

Further information

Find further information on how to get a personal licence or refresher training by contacting one of the following awarding bodies:

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