Licensing Nightclubs and Late Night Bars in the UK

If you’re going to be opening a nightclub or late night bar in the UK, there are a significant number of rules and regulations you must follow in order to stay open and comply with legal requirements.

Ensuring that you’ve got all the correct licences for your establishment is key, and without the correct licences in place your business will be at risk.

As getting all of the right licences in place can be difficult and complicated, getting the help of a licensing expert could be the best way to ensure your nightclub meets all of its licensing requirements. If you wish to speak to one of our licensing experts directly, get in touch by filling out our contact form, by calling 0114 266 8664 or by emailing

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What licences does a Nightclub or Late Night Bar need in the UK?

If you would like to open a nightclub or late night bar in England and Wales, then there are several licences and regulations which you must adhere to in order to operate as a business.

Trading in the late-night economy can present many challenges therefore ensuring the licences are fit for purpose and that they are followed to the letter is crucial to having a successful business and avoiding regulatory enforcement.

To ensure your nightclub or late night bar is correctly following all the legal guidance, here are the licences and procedures that you must obtain or follow:

1. A premises licence

One of the key things you will need for a nightclub is the ability to sell alcohol, and to do this you will need to obtain a premises licence.

A premises licence means a nightclub can sell alcohol and provide entertainment, and is the first of two licences which are required to sell alcohol. This is the licence which is assigned to your business premises.

Your Premises Licence is one of the most important licences for your business, and it is vital that the application for it is filled out properly.

When filling out your Premises Licence application for your Nightclub, consider the following:

Your Nightclub or Late Night Bar Operating Schedule

Your operating schedule is vitally important to making sure that your Nightclub promotes its licensing objectives, and any deviation could see your Premises Licence revoked.

When working on your Premises Licence application, consider how you will promote these licensing objectives first:

  • Public Safety
  • The prevention of crime and disorder
  • The prevention of public nuisance
  • The protection of children from harm

Having a good understanding of how you will promote these objectives is very important, and will inform how your business operates.

If you’re unsure of how to fill out this section of the Premises Licence application, consider getting in touch with John Gaunt & Partners directly. Our team of dedicated solicitors have years worth of experience in Licensing, and can help you fill out this section correctly.

Your Nightclub or Late Night Bar Hours of Operation

Nightclub and Late Night Bar hours can vary from month to month, week to week, and even seasonally. Making sure you have a good understanding of when your nightclub or Late Night Bar opens is vitally important to your application, and opening outside of the stated hours can lead to serious issues surrounding your licence.

At John Gaunt & Partners, we have a lot of experience in not only helping new businesses arrange their Premises Licences, but also helping them to make the most of their hours and stay open longer, which can equate to a higher revenue. Contact us today if you want to find out how to make the most of your business’ hours of operation.

Are you eligible to work in the UK?

Making sure you are eligible to work in the UK is naturally a very important part of opening a business of any kind. While filling out this section of the application, please be aware that an immigration status check may be performed to prove your eligibility.

Gain the consent of your Designated Premises Supervisor

Gaining the consent of your Designated Premises Supervisor is a necessity when filling out the Premises Licence form, as they will most likely handle communications and questions surrounding the Premises Licence.

Your Nightclub or Late Night Bar floor plan

It is very important that your nightclub or late night bar floor plan includes every element conceivable. This helps the team reviewing your application make solid judgements and provide feedback. Consider the elements on the following list as a starting point when filling out your floor plan:

  • What are your boundary properties?
  • How are the entrances and exits laid out in your property?
  • Does your property have toilets or changing rooms? Where are these?
  • Does your nightclub or late night bar have multiple floors? Where are steps and staircases located?
  • Do you have suitable fire escapes in your property? Where are they located?
  • Consider other licensable activities, such as where a live DJ might go
  • Does your property have raised sections in it?
  • What safety equipment do you have on the premises? Make sure its location is marked accurately

Make sure to outline any licensable areas on your plan in red.

When looking at your plan, also consider how you might maximise your trading and licensable activities spaces. Finding the right balance can be difficult, and could cause issues with your application.

Get advice where needed

Filling out a Premises Licence can be difficult, and it is not recommended that you attempt to do so without the guidance of an expert. This is because missing information, or information incorrectly filled in can create objections to your application, which means it will need to face a Local Licensing Committee. This can significantly delay the opening of your business, as the Local Licensing Committee has the power to reject your application outright.

Consider also that as a nightclub or late night bar owner, you may wish to change the layout of your business, make changes to the opening times, or introduce new licensable activities. If these are not accounted for and you proceed with the changes, you could have your licence revoked.

Responsible Authorities may also want to provide feedback on your Premises. These Responsible Authorities can include Environmental Health, the Police, and the Fire Office, all of which are incredibly knowledgeable in their fields. If they offer feedback that opposes your application, protecting your interests in that area can be a challenging prospect.

John Gaunt & Partners are available to help provide support on all of these issues. The years of experience in Licensing Law put us in a unique position to help businesses, including nightclubs and late night bars, make the most of their Premises Licence. We will help you complete the form, offer suggestions to improve your potential, and act as legal guidance and representation if any issues arise with your application.

If you’re in the process of completing your Premises Licence application form or facing a Local Licensing Committee, get in touch with the John Gaunt & Partners team by filling out our contact form. You can also get in touch directly, by calling 0114 266 8664 or emailing

We can help make the application process go as smoothly as possible, and our solicitors will be available to represent your interests in the event of any objections.

2. A personal licence

A personal licence is the second licence that is needed for your nightclub or late night bar to sell alcohol.

A personal licence allows you to sell and authorise the sale of alcohol in a venue that has a premises licence. Not everyone who works for your nightclub or late night bar needs to hold a personal licence, but it is good practice to have multiple personal licence holders to authorise the sale of alcohol.

Consider that the person who will hold the Personal Licence must follow the process correctly, starting with making sure they pass a DBS check to prove eligibility. They need to have not forfeited a Personal Licence within the past 5 years also. If they have forfeited one within that time frame, they will not be eligible to receive another.

An accredited qualification is also necessary for Personal Licence holders. This can be something like an Award for Personal Licence Holders (APLH) as awarded by John Gaunt & Partners, or an alternative.

If you are acquiring a Personal Licence in Scotland, we also offer an SCPLH qualification course.

Alongside the APLH accredited qualification for your Personal Licence, you should also consider any other training courses for your nightclub or late night bar. Important ones to consider might be the Customer Service and Allergen Awareness courses.

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3. Door supervisors

Depending on the terms of your premises licence, it may be required within your licence to have door supervisors. Door supervisors are responsible for checking the ID of people upon entry, ensuring that people entering the club are not too intoxicated to enter, as well as potentially searching people for illegal substances.

Door supervisors must be registered to the Security Industry Authority (SIA) which was setup by the UK Government to regulate the security industry. To obtain a licence to work as a door supervisor, a person must apply to the SIA, pass an identity and criminal records check and gain a recognised door supervisor qualification.

It is your responsibility as the operator to ensure persons employed at the premises are properly licenced and that their licence has not been suspended or revoked. You can check your staffs SIA licences here:

At John Gaunt and Partners, we work with nightclubs and late night bars to help them achieve the conditions on their licence that are suitable for their business, including those about door staff provision, potentially saving money. Get in touch to see if there is any guidance we can offer you.

4. Music licence

In order to play music at your nightclub or late night bar, you will need to have a music licence. This is necessary if you’re playing recorded music from an online streaming platform or CD, or if you have a DJ or band playing.

Get in touch with our friendly team today for more information on how to obtain a music licence for your hotel

5. Become a registered company

This is standard practice for any business in the UK including hotels, however you must register as a limited company with Companies House.

You can also run a nightclub or late night bar as a sole trader business. In this case, you would need to register your business with HMRC

How much does it cost to get a nightclub or late night bar licensed?

The cost of licensing your nightclub or late night bar can depend on a number of factors, from the licences you need to location of your business.

Personal Licence Fees

The application fee for your Personal Licence is £37, which must be paid to your local authority. Consider also the cost of a DBS check when applying for your Personal Licence, which currently costs £36+VAT.

Training is also required to successfully complete your application form, with an APLH qualification or equivalent necessary. Costs differ depending on your course provider, but at John Gaunt & Partners we’re proud to offer an APLH course for only £120+VAT per person. This course features an eLearning portal that makes it easy for users to come back to at their own leisure. We also get in touch to provide exam dates for your APLH course, making the process as easy as possible.

Another option for your APLH qualification is to use our ‘one-stop-shop’ option, which provides the training course and Personal Licence application within one bundle and at one cost. This streamlined approach also guarantees the expertise of the John Gaunt & Partners team, which can offer guidance in drafting your form, and submit it once complete. During the process, our team will also help secure the DBS check.

If you are based in Scotland, we also offer SCPLH Only courses and SCPLH & Personal Licence Combined courses to take at your leisure.

Get in touch today if you would like to discuss our ‘one-stop-shop’ Personal Licence option.

Premises Licence fees

The rateable value of your property determines how much the application fee paid to the local authority for your Premises Licence will be, and is paid to your local authority. On top of this fee, you are also required to advertise your application at the property, and get in touch with local press to advertise the application through them also. When contacting the press, reach out to the John Gaunt & Partners team, who can put you in touch with our agent. The agent has a great deal of experience working with local press, and can potentially secure you a discount on your application advertising.

We have further information on Premises Licence Costs which can be found on our website. If you require any further information though, consider reaching out to us directly, and with your requirements, and we can provide a more accurate idea of how much your Licence Fees will cost.

SIA Licence Fees

Your SIA Licence Fees should cost £190, to be paid when you first apply for the licence. If you are purchasing SIA Licence Fees for more than one person, discounts are provided depending how many people are applying.

Need help getting your nightclub or late night bar licenced?

Getting a nightclub or late night bar licenced can be difficult with the regulation and red tape that surrounds the industry.

In order to get the most favourable premises licence for your business, get in touch with the John Gaunt & Partners team today.