Guidelines for issuing and administration of liquor licences – 1-3

  1. Obtaining a Licence
  2. Considering an Application
  3. Issuing or Transferring a Licence
  4. Variation of Licences
  5. Surrender, Suspension and Cancellation of Licences
  6. Guidelines for Appointment of Nominees
  7. Guidelines for Holders or Passenger Terminal Licences
  8. Annual Compliance Return
  9. Forms

Further Information

1. Obtaining a Licence

All licences that were operating at the time the Regulations commenced were automatically transferred into the new system. These licences will stay in place until the leases/sub-leases on the properties occupied by the licensees/sub-licensees expire.

A person can obtain a liquor licence by either applying for the grant of a new licence, or for the transfer of an existing licence. The person must in either circumstance lodge an application with the Secretary. The application must be made in a form approved by the Secretary, which can be obtained from the forms section of this page, or by request from:

The General Manager
Airports Branch
Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development
GPO Box 594
Canberra ACT 2601

Ph: 02 6274 7111
In order to be accepted by the Secretary for consideration, an application for a licence must contain the information requested in the application form. It must also be accompanied by the following:

  1. If the application is for a passenger terminal licence, a plan that shows the floor plan of the Terminal with all of the sites on which alcohol is sold or served highlighted; and
  2. If the application is for a general or function licence, the written consent of the airport lessee or the passenger terminal lessee to the granting of the licence.

The Regulations state that the Secretary has 30 days from the day on which an application is received in which to consider an application. The 30 day period commences from the date the application is received by the Department.

1.1 When is a licence required?

A passenger terminal licence is required wherever a landlord proposes to provide facilities for the sale and consumption of liquor for the public at Sydney Airport. It may be provided either directly by the landlord e.g. in a Club Lounge (like the Qantas Club), or by sub-licensing someone else to serve alcohol, e.g. in a trattoria or café inside a terminal. The holder of a passenger terminal licence has reasonable flexibility in the manner in which it issues and administers these sub-licenses, subject to its obligations under the Regulations and the conditions of the passenger terminal licence itself.

A general licence is required for any other site on an airport where it is envisaged to sell or supply alcohol on a regular basis. Persons at a general aviation airport who wish to be able to hold functions involving the sale or consumption of alcohol on a regular basis should also apply for a general licence.

A function licence should be applied for where it is proposed, to hold a one-off function, such as an air show or a publicity launch. Function licences are not normally required where alcohol is served privately to a small number of persons, e.g. where the Board of a general aviation airport meets and has a few drinks afterwards, or staff enjoy a regular Friday night get-together at close of business and have a drink together before leaving for the weekend.

Staff parties held on site would not generally require a licence, provided members of the public (except family) do not attend. For example an annual staff Christmas party would not require a licence, even if staff are required to pay for their own drinks.

It should be pointed out, however, that the provisions of the criminal law still apply where illegal activities occur. Also, any liquor licence holder that deliberately flouts the spirit of the Regulations, or permits illegal or irresponsible behaviour to occur on a regular basis risks the loss of its licence to sell or supply liquor altogether.

1.2 Additional requirements for general licences

Additional processes apply to the issue and maintenance of a general licence. The reason for this is that licensed premises outside the terminals at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport and all premises at Bankstown and Camden Airports are more likely to be close to, and in competition with, off-airport liquor supply outlets. They are also more likely to affect the amenity of local residents.

There are also social issues to be taken into consideration relating to the objects of the Regulations. The general aviation airports, including Bankstown at this stage, differ in their function from the Regular Public Transport Airports. There is limited or no commuter traffic and therefore less need to be concerned about providing facilities for use by the travelling public. This is not to say that liquor will not be consumed from time to time in these airports, however, Commonwealth policy is to ensure that the Department keeps a direct check on activities at the general aviation airports and ensures that they do not become pockets for the unchecked and unregulated consumption of alcohol in New South Wales.

The Commonwealth also considers that in these circumstances, the local community should be notified about applications seeking permission for the sale and service of alcohol at the general aviation airports.


An applicant for a general licence is required to prominently advertise the fact that the application is being made. The advertisement must appear in a newspaper circulating generally within the state of New South Wales. An advertisement must also appear in the local newspaper in the area in which the airport is situated. Both the advertisements must appear 28 days before the application for the licence is actually submitted to the Secretary.

The advertisement must give the following information:

  • where it is proposed to establish the licensed premises;
  • the purpose of the establishment; and
  • the proposed trading hours.

Written comments are to be invited for a 21-day period. Copies of any comments received must be included with the application for the licence accompanied by a written statement from the applicant declaring that all of the statements received have been forwarded to the Secretary. The applicant must also inform the Secretary of the steps taken to take account of the public comments in preparing the application.

Submissions for general licences should not be forwarded to the Secretary unless these requirements have been met.

Public display of general licence applications

A notice that the application has been made must be continuously displayed on the proposed premises for 28 days before the application for a licence is lodged with the Secretary. The notice must be prominently displayed and invite public comment on the application. If the notice cannot be displayed on the premises itself, it can be displayed on an adjoining premises. An applicant will be deemed to have complied with these requirements if the Secretary is satisfied that:

  • the applicant took all reasonable steps to ensure that the application was prominently displayed on the premises, for the 28 day period; and
  • any failure to keep the notice displayed was not the fault of the applicant.

The notice must contain the following information:

  • the name of the applicant;
  • the address of the premises to which the application relates;
  • the purpose of the establishment (e.g. sports bar etc); and
  • the times proposed to supply liquor.

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2. Considering an Application

It is important to bear in mind that a decision must be communicated to the applicant by the due date. If more information is required to consider the application, that information must be sought as soon as possible after the Secretary receives the application. As soon as the request for more information is sent out, the 30-day decision period is suspended.

The 30 day decision period resumes as soon as the Secretary receives the information. The Secretary then has the remainder of the original 30-day decision period to make his decision concerning the licence.

Whether the application is for a grant of a new licence or for the transfer of an existing licence, the Secretary must take into account a number of factors. When submitting an application for the Secretary to consider, the submission must refer to the following:

2.1 Whether the applicant is a “fit and proper person” to hold the licence

A person will be deemed a fit and proper person provided that person:

  1. is not a declared bankrupt. An applicant must obtain a credit reference check which must accompany the application;
  2. has had no major convictions within the past five years.  This is determined by a police probity report which must accompany the application;
  3. has had no substantial convictions under any Liquor Act of any State or Territory;
  4. can demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the obligations of a liquor licensee;*
  5. is of good repute and does not have a history of behaviour that would render the person unsuitable to hold a licence. This will be determined by a police report; and
  6. can demonstrate a responsible attitude to the management and discharge of their financial obligations.*

*This will be determined by the completion of a statement attached to the application form in a manner satisfactory to the Secretary.

2.2 Whether the grant of a licence for the premises specified in the application would be detrimental to the amenity of the airport, or any part of the airport, on which the premises are situated

The applicant will need to give consideration as to whether the proposed facility will interrupt the normal business of the airport or make it difficult for passengers to reach their flights or disembark from aeroplanes. The applicant should also be able to prove that provision of the facility will not make the environment in or around the site of the business unpleasant for those in the vicinity who are not using the facility.

2.3 Whether there is a demonstrated need for the activity proposed under the licence

The applicant needs to show whether his or her business will provide a facility for the travelling public or meet a particular need at a particular point in time.

2.4 Whether the activity proposed under the licence would be likely to encourage the misuse or abuse of alcohol

The applicant should describe the manner of operation of the business or function and provide a copy of the house rules applying to the sale and service of alcohol. The applicant should be able to demonstrate that he or she has experience in the service of alcohol, and has undertaken, or is about to undertake, Responsible Service of Alcohol training.

2.5 If the applicant is not the airport-lessee company for the airport on which the premises is situated—the views of the airport-lessee company or the passenger terminal licensee

A letter of consent from the airport lessee or passenger terminal licensee is required in any event where an application for a general or function licence is submitted. The letter need not be in any particular form, but should be on the relevant company's letterhead and signed by an authorised officer of that company, such as a company secretary or corporate solicitor.

2.6 The views of any other person consulted about the application by the Secretary

The Secretary has discretion to obtain information from a variety of sources.

2.7 Any other matter which the Secretary reasonably thinks should be considered

It is a matter for the assessor to decide whether there are any concerns about the application that should be checked out.

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3. Issuing or Transferring a Licence

When the applicant has satisfied the Secretary that all the criteria for holding a licence have been met by the applicant, a licence to sell or supply alcohol can be issued or transferred.

A licence can only be issued or transferred to the person who applies for it. This means that an applicant cannot ask for a licence to be issued in another person's name. A licence can be issued in the name of a company, as long as the company originally applied for it.
All licences will include key information as follows:

  1. licence number;
  2. name of licensee;
  3. identification of the premises to which the licence relates; and
  4. the conditions imposed on the grant of the licence.

A decision to place conditions on the issuing of a licence is reviewable. The Secretary must be able to explain the reasons for the conditions to the applicant and, if necessary, to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. The reasons for making the conditions must be put in writing and kept with the application.

Where licence conditions are required, the reasons for those conditions must also be set out in full in the submission to the Secretary recommending the issuing of the licence. Provision has been made on the standard form of licence to add conditions.

3.1 Special conditions

A licence can be issued subject to such conditions as the Secretary thinks fit. These are known as “special conditions”, and must appear on the licence.

A decision to impose special licence conditions will depend on the particular case in front of the assessor. As a general principle, the conditions must always be consistent with the objects of the Regulations (as set out in the introduction to these Guidelines). This is a wide power, so care and discretion will need to be exercised in making this decision.

3.2 General conditions

The following are examples of some of the conditions that can be included on the licence:

  1. the date of commencement of the licence;
  2. the location and limits of the licensed premises;
  3. marking the limits of the premises;
  4. limiting or defining activities relating to the sale or supply of liquor, including
    • trading days or trading hours;
    • sale of liquor by retail or wholesale;
    • sale or supply for consumption on or off premises;
    • sale or supply of alcohol with the sale or consumption of food;
    • sale or supply of liquor at functions on premises;
  5. advertising and signage;
  6. the presence of minors on the licensed premises;
  7. storage and security of liquor; and
  8. attendance at, and completion of, training courses that are relevant to activities permitted under the licence.

3.3 Duration of licences

The duration of a new licence depends upon its type.

Passenger terminal licence: the term of the current terminal lease, subject to Annual Review.

General licence: the term of the licensee's lease, subject to Annual Review.

Function licence: either one month, starting from the date on which the licence is granted; or the end of the last trading hour on the day specified on the licence, whichever is the earlier.

The duration of a transferred licence is the unexpired term of the existing licence. The new licensee can, of course, apply for renewal of the licence for the normal term, upon its expiry.

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