Alcohol licensing: guidance

Guidance on alcohol licensing, personal licences and alcohol byelaws.

Personal Licence Holders


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 the expiry date of the licence.

Personal licence application forms and associated guidance notes can be downloaded from Licensing Boards’ website pages. Which can be found by consulting the website of your local authority.

Personal licence renewal – important information

The ‘Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005: liquor personal licence holder training accreditation’ document, published on 23 December 2022, sets out the appropriate training qualifications for Personal Licence Holders.

The intention of the accreditation document is to clarify which qualifications are accredited by Scottish Ministers as a “licensing qualification” in terms of regulation 2 of the Licensing Qualification (Scotland) Regulations 2007 for the purposes of any application for a personal licence under section 74 of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005, and for the purposes of a renewal application under section 78 of that Act.

It also sets out clearly which course is accredited as a “course of training” by the Scottish Ministers for the purposes of regulation 2 of the Personal Licence (Training) (Scotland) Regulations 2013 relating to “refresher” training.

There is a £50 fee for submitting your personal licence renewal application to your local Licensing Board.

If a Personal Licence Holder has any questions about their personal licence they should contact the Licensing Board that issued the licence. Contact details will be available on the relevant local authority website.

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 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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