How to get a liquor licence in Victoria.

1 July 2015
Posted by Jennifer

How to get a liquor licence in Victoria

Are you opening a new bar, restaurant or café? Do you have an upcoming event and wish to provide alcohol? Do you operate a social club where alcohol is served? Sounds like you need a liquor licence, and this guide is here to guide you in what to do and where to start.

Liquor licences in Victoria are issued by the Victoria Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR). Any person that intends to supply liquor in Victoria needs one (with a few exceptions that we’ll get to later). There are many different types of licences, so in order to choose the right one for you, you need to consider some key factors relating to your business and the ways in which alcohol will be served.

Some relevant questions that will determine what kind of licence you need include:

– Is the licence for a limited period of time, such as a one-off event, or for ongoing basis?

– Will your venue be a café or restaurant?

– Will your venue be a bar or nightclub?

– What will be the trading hours of your venue? (serving alcohol outside of permitted hours of operating is a common breach of licence?

– Do you wish to only allow alcohol to be consumed inside your premises?

– Do you have outdoor areas?

– Do you wish to allow patrons to be able to take away alcohol?

– Do you wish to allow patrons to bring their own alcohol?

Applying for a new liquor licence

Once you have these questions answered, you may have an idea on which kind of licence is right for you. There are many kinds of licences available through VCGLR including late night, restaurant and café, packaged liquor, full club, single major event and BYO permit.

To apply for a new liquor licence with VCGLR, you need to download, complete and lodge the relevant application kit and pay an application fee. At the time of writing, the application fee for most new permanent licences was $429.50.

There are strict regulations that must be met in order to be granted a new licence. The applicant may be required to undergo a police check and complete a Victoria Police questionnaire designed to check if they are a “suitable person” to hold a liquor licence. It is said that this test is analogous to the more familiar “fit and proper person” test, and can come down to whether the applicant is a person who the community can have confidence will abide by the obligations of the licence.

The applicant must provide an approved plan of the premises, including the boundaries of the property and the proposed licensed and authorised areas. Further, the premises cannot contravene the local planning scheme of the area and the applicant must provide a planning permit from their Local Planning Authority.

The applicant must also fill in a ‘Public Notice’ form and visibly display it for a prescribed period of time on the proposed premises. This is to alert members of the public and allow an opportunity to oppose the application. The application can be objected to on the grounds that the licence may affect the amenity of the area. If opposition is filed, the applicant may also need to respond to these objections before being approved.

The application is reviewed and scrutinised by the VCGLR and unsuccessful applications are entitled to internal review or judicial review (on questions of law only). If the application is successful, the licence is granted and the licensee is required to adhere to ongoing requirements include payment of annual fees. The fees vary and are subject to change, but at the time of writing they are can be found on the VCGLR Liquor Licencing Fact Sheet.

Acquiring someone else’s liquor licence

A common way of acquiring a liquor licence is to ‘buy it’ from someone else. This is often included as part of the business and/or premises when a venue is sold.

To transfer a liquor licence from one owner to another, both parties need to provide VCGLR with a completed and signed application form, a questionnaire, a letter confirming settlement has occurred and evidence that licensee training has been completed. There’s also a transfer fee, which at the time of writing is $193.60. While transfers do not need to be advertised and displayed to the public, the same general standards apply to the transferee as would apply to an applicant for a new licence.

Minor Business Exemptions

Some businesses are exempt from holding liquor licences, including bed and breakfasts, hairdressers, florists or gift shops, butchers, cruise ships and hospitals.


The information in this article is of a general nature. It does not constitute formal legal advice, and should not be relied on as such. Please see the full disclaimer in our website terms. Please contact Studio Legal if you are seeking advice about a specific legal matter

For further information on obtaining a liquor licence or setting up a venue, please contact or phone the office 03 9521 2128.

Written by Studio Legal (C) 2015.