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FAQs and definitions

The service is committed to the principles of the Regulators' Compliance Code, a statutory code for all regulators. We have a Policy Statement on Enforcement​ (200KB) approved by the Port Health and Environmental Services Committee. This sets out our approach to enforcement work in the City.

If you can't find the answer to your question about alcohol and entertainment​, please contact the licensing team by phone on 020 7332 3406 or send an email to the Licensing team.

What is defined as premises?

Premises are defined as any place, including a vehicle, vessel, or moveable structure. Premises can be any building, part of a building or an open space such as a park. The Act is likely to affect anyone concerned with:

  • Pubs, bars and nightclubs
  • Off-licenses and shops selling alcohol for consumption off the premises
  • Restaurants Businesses selling hot food or drink between 11pm and 5am (including take-away premises and mobile caterers)
  • Hotels and guest houses
  • Private members clubs, social clubs and sports clubs
  • Places that put on entertainment (including open spaces)
  • Theatres
  • Cinemas
  • Indoor sporting events
  • Boxing or wrestling in front of an audience
  • Premises where alcohol is to be sold or entertainment provided on an occasional basis

What is the retail sale of alcohol (including wholesale) and what exemptions apply?

The retail sale of alcohol is any sale of alcohol to a member of the public for personal use including wholesale quantities.

Exemptions apply to the wholesale of alcohol from premises where the alcohol is sold for consumption off the premises and:

  • the sale is made to a trader for the purposes of their trade eg another wholesaler
  • to a club for the purposes of the club
  • to a premises licence holder for the purposes of making sales under a premises licence or
  • to a temporary event notice (TEN) holder for the purposes of makes sales under the TEN

Where alcohol orders are made over the internet, by phone or other remote method for delivery, the point of sale is the place where the alcohol is appropriated or taken. For example, a call centre taking orders will not need to be licensed but the warehouse or storage place from where the alcohol is despatched will need to be licensed.

Alcohol is defined as any spirits, wine, beer, cider or any other fermented, distilled or spirituous liquor and of strength of more than 0.5% alcohol by volume at the point of sale.

What is the supply of alcohol in club premises?

​The supply of alcohol in club premises is the supply of alcohol in a bona fide members' club. No sale takes place because members of the club already own all the assets of the club, including the alcohol. The club must hold a club premises certificate and the supply of alcohol must only be to a club member or a bona fide guest of a member.

Alcohol is defined as any spirits, wine, beer, cider or any other fermented, distilled or spirituous liquor and of strength of more than 0.5% alcohol by volume at the point of supply.

What is regulated entertainment and what exemptions apply?

​Regulated entertainment is any entertainment that is provided for members of the public or a section of the public OR at a private function for consideration and with a view to profit.

Regulated entertainment includes:

  • The performance of a play
  • Exhibition of a film
  • Indoor sporting event
  • Boxing or wrestling entertainment (indoors or outdoors)
  • Performance of live music *(see live music exemptions below)
  • Playing of recorded music
  • Performance of dance
  • Anything similar to live music, recorded music or dance

* Live music exemptions

The Live Music Act 2012, which comes into effect on 1 October 2012, will remove the licensing requirements for the following:

  • amplified live music between 8am and 11pm before audiences of no more than 200 people on premises authorised to sell alcohol for consumption on the premises;
  • amplified live music between 8am and 11pm before audiences of no more than 200 people in workplaces not otherwise licensed under the 2003 Act (or licensed only for the provision of late night refreshment); and
  • unamplified live music between 8am and 11pm in all venues.

Where licensable activities (such as the sale of alcohol) continue to take place on premises, any licence conditions related to live music will be suspended. However, it will be possible to impose new or reinstate existing live music conditions following a review of a premises licence or club premises certificate relating to premises authorised to supply alcohol for consumption on the premises

Other exemptions

Morris dancing, music that is incidental to another activity or spontaneous music, singing and dancing are not licensable activities.

Is busking permitted?

​Busking is defined as a street performance in a public place for the collection of money.

In the City of London, street performers are not permitted to collect money. This is because of restrictions set out in the Police & Factories (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1916.  However, busking may be permitted in other London Boroughs.

Busk in London is a new scheme supported by the Mayor of London that has been designed to help busking in London. The scheme includes a Code of Conduct which provides advice and guidance on where to busk in London and how to deal with any problems that may arise. You can find a copy of the Busk in London Code of Conduct on the Busk in London website. 

If you wish to busk at London Underground stations you should contact Transport for London.

What is late night refreshment?

​Late night refreshment is the sale of any hot food or hot drink between the hours of 11pm and 5am for consumption on or off the premises. This includes any restaurant or take-away premises.

The supply of a hotdrink from a vending machine is not licensable if the machine is operated by a member of the public without the involvement of any staff.

The supply of hot food  from a vending machine is licensable if the food is heated on the premises even though no staff may have been involved in the transaction.

The supply of a hot drink containing alcohol must be made in accordance with a licence for the sale of alcohol.

What is expected in an operating schedule?

A proactive and preventative approach is a key aspect of good management at licensed premises. The City of London licensing authority therefore expects applicants to consider the nature of the area where the premises are situated, the type of premises concerned, the licensable activities to be provided, the operational procedures in place and the needs of the local community prior to completing their operating schedule.

Applicants are strongly advised to read the City of London's Statement of Licensing Policy and list of model conditions to help them identify what they can include in their operating schedule. In most cases, applicants will need to complete their own detailed risk assessment to identify possible risks associated with the operation of their business prior to completing their operating schedule.

How can the licensing objectives be met?

​The steps a licence or club certificate holder might take to promote the licensing objectives will vary dependent on the type of premises or club and the activities taking place. When completing the operating schedule, an applicant should consider the measures listed below.

Crime and disorder

  • the use of CCTV inside and outside the premises
  • the provision of door supervisors where appropriate
  • carrying out comprehensive risk assessments for promoted events and providing these to the City of London Police
  • a door admissions policy
  • alternatives to glass drinking vessels
  • the risk of drug use, weapons or violence within the premises
  • the use of an incident book
  • anti-theft measures
  • potential crime/disorder risks from people queuing to enter the premises or when leaving the premises
  • measures in place to prevent alcohol sales to intoxicated persons

Public safety

  • provision of first aid facilities
  • a maximum capacity level for the premises
  • a glass collection policy
  • anti-drink spiking measures
  • a chill out period at the end of an evening
  • information on safe travel options for customers

Public nuisance

  • a noise management policy
  • an approved list of DJs
  • keeping doors and windows
  • lobbied entrance/exit
  • mechanical ventilation
  • a sound limiting device
  • location of entertainment facilities
  • methods for monitoring noise from the premises
  • well managed queue lines
  • a customer dispersal policy
  • display of notices
  • restricting the use of external areas after a certain time
  • collection of litter generated by customers of the premises
  • commercial delivery/collection times

Protection of children from harm

  • operate a challenge 21 or challenge 25 scheme
  • restrict access to children after certain times

This is not an exhaustive list and applicants should address all risks relevant to the premises and type of operation.

Do door supervisors need to be licensed?

​Any person who supervises, guards or manages a door at licensed premises must be licensed as a door supervisor.

The Security Industry Authority (also known as the SIA) is responsible for licensing all individuals and companies working in the security industry, including all door supervisors. Further information on how to obtain a door supervisor licence can be found on the door supervision section of the Security Industry Authority website