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8 June 2022 | Comment | Article by Martin Jones

Personal licences: how to ensure your application process runs as smoothly as possible

Nicola Jordan launches Day 1 of our National Licensing Week campaign, by exploring personal licences and the application process, including covering some of the key questions to help your application process run as smoothly as possible, starting with the key details you need to know about a personal licence.

What is a personal licence and when do you need one?

Section 111(b) of the Licensing Act 2003 states that “A personal licence which authorises that individual to supply alcohol, or authorise the supply of alcohol, in accordance with a premises licence”.

This does not mean that every person involved in the sale of alcohol at a licensed premises has to have a personal licence, though there’s no limit on how many personal licence holders any one premises can have!

However, if a business is supplying alcohol under a premises licence, there must be at least one personal licence holder to be the Designated Premises Supervisor. This is discussed more below.

Who can apply for a personal licence?

Anyone can apply for a personal licence provided that you meet the following criteria:

  • be over the age of 18 years
  • you have the right to work in the UK (and can provide evidence of this, such as a British passport or other passport with an appropriate work visa or a code issued by the Home Office online right to work checking service)
  • you hold an accredited licensing qualification or are a person of a prescribed description
  • you must not have been convicted of any relevant or foreign offence or be required to pay an immigration penalty
  • you must not have had a personal licence forfeited in the period of 5 years ending with the day the application is made.

The Relevant Licensing Authority

The application must be made to the Licensing Authority where the applicant is ordinarily resident and anindividual is permitted to hold only one personal licence at any one time. Notably, the relevant Licensing Authority will remain the relevant Licensing Authority, regardless of whether a personal licence holder moves to a different Licensing Authority area.

The Application

The Application must be made in the prescribed form. This is a standard application form (available online) together with a disclosure of convictions and declaration.

The application must also be accompanied by the following documents:

  • the applicant’s certificate confirming a successful award of an accredited personal licence holder’s course
  • a valid disclosure and barring service certificate (dated no more than one month before the application is made)
  • two passport sized photographs (one of which must be certified by someone of standing in the community, solicitor or notary or any individual with a professional qualification as being a true likeness of the applicant).

The Licence

When the relevant Licensing Authority grants a personal licence following a successful application, they must issue the individual with a personal licence which must feature the holder’s name and address, together with details of the issuing Licensing Authority. The licence will also contain the photograph of the applicant and the personal licence number.

Period of Validity

A personal licence has an indefinite effect, except:

when surrendered by the personal licence holder
when a personal licence holder ceases to be entitled to work in the UK, or
during any period of suspension under the Licensing Act 2003.

Matters notifiable to the Relevant Licensing Authority

A personal licence holder must be mindful that there are certain matters that they have a duty to report to the Relevant Licensing Authority. These include:

  • The holder of a personal licence must, as soon as reasonably practicable, notify the relevant licensing authority of any change in their name or address as stated in their personal licence. A person commits an offence if they fail without reasonable cause, to comply with this duty.
  • If a personal licence holder is convicted of a relevant offence or a foreign offence then they have a duty, as soon as reasonably practicable, to notify the relevant Licensing Authority of the conviction. The personal licence holder must give the relevant Licensing Authority notice containing details of the nature and date of the conviction and any sentence imposed on them.
  • If a personal licence holder is required to pay an immigration penalty they must, as soon as reasonably practicable, give the relevant Licensing Authority notice containing details of the penalty imposed, including the date of the penalty. A personal licence holder commits an offence if they fail, without reasonable excuse, to comply with this duty.

Theft or Loss of Personal Licence

If a personal licence is stolen, lost, damaged or destroyed, the holder may apply to the relevant licensing authority for duplicate upon payment of the prescribed fee. Some Licensing Authorities require the licence holder to report a lost or stolen personal licence to the police.

Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS)

If a DPS is required on a premises licence (when it includes the licensable activity of the supply of alcohol), the proposed DPS must hold a personal licence. We discuss premises licences in Day 3 of our dedicated National Licensing Week blog. Keep an eye out on Day 3 of NLW for this to be released.

How can we help?

Whether you’re applying for a licence for the first time, or you’ve had a personal licence suspended, then we can help you. Our Licensing team can assist with all aspects of an application or suspension. Get in touch with our Licensing team using the button below.

Author bio

Martin Jones


As the Head of the Regulatory Department, Martin acts in a wide-range of regulatory crime and professional regulation matters. Martin has built up over 20 years of experience and a wealth of specialist knowledge.

He leads the firm’s cross-departmental alcohol and gaming licensing teams. Additionally Martin manages the teams providing a range of outsourced services to local authorities, including court representation of local authorities Adult and Children’s Services Departments.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.


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