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In this article we answer some of the questions asked most often by new liquor license applicants.

Many questions come to mind the first time you want to apply for a liquor license. In the following article we deal with liquor license application-related questions as follows:

  • Can I get a liquor license and then find a premises?
  • What is required for a premises to qualify?
  • What makes up the license application process?
  • May I start trading as soon as the liquor license application is lodged?
  • Is the liquor license application cost a once of fee, and how long is the approved license valid for?
  • What type of License may I apply for?
  • I want to compile and lodge an application. What happens next?

Can I get a liquor license and then find a premises?


A liquor license is approved on two(2) base or foundation criteria.

Firstly the applicant has to be suitable and qualify to hold a liquor license. Secondly, the premises must be suitable for the type of business you are planning to open. You cannot obtain a license without having a place to trade and similarly a premises cannot get a license without an applicant.

How do I qualify for a liquor license as a person?


Briefly, to mention only the main criteria.

You have to have a clean track record in other words no criminal record for the past 10 years. If you were found guilty with the option to pay a fine you can still qualify. No liquor-related offences such as selling alcohol without a license will be considered for a liquor license.

Secondly, you will need a Tax Clearance Certificate. Furthermore, you must have the ability to manage your business together with a sound financial background.

What is required for a premises to qualify?


The license type you are applying for determines the specific application requirements. But, first of all, you need to have a business license. For a business license, you complete the application forms and payment at your local municipality.

Secondly, the premises must be more than 500 meters away from a school or church. In the case where the premises is located in a residential area, the premises must be more than 500 meters away from other licensed premises. On the other hand, if the premises are located in a commercially zoned area, certain modifications and special conditions can be argued that may help the premises to qualify.

Other basic conditions regarding storage and toilet facilities and more make up part of our service. These will be dealt with in detail, once we proceed with your application.

How long does it take to get a license?


The complete license application process should in optimal conditions take a minimum of five (5) months and up to eight (8) months. You can work on eight (8) months as average.

Some delays with the application process may happen in the case of objections lodged against your application. Another delay may come from incomplete or outdated attachments to the application.

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What makes up the license application process?


The procedure is quite complex, but once the application is completed and lodged, including all the required attachments, it runs through the following stages:

  • Screening by the liquor board
  • Advertising and lodging with SAPS for public inspection – 21 working days
  • Inspection
  • Local Committee recommendation
  • Preparing for Liquor Board
  • Board either approve, decline or postpone the application
  • If approved a notice sent to applicant to make the activation payment
  • Once Liquor Authorities receive confirmation of payment License certificate is prepared and then signed and forwarded to applicant.

Delays may occur after each of the steps of the process.

May I start trading as soon as the liquor license application is lodged?


No! Under no circumstances! The liquor act determines that a valid and up to date license must be displayed on the premises at all times. This means that you must have the signed final copy of the license in hand before trading me commence.

Read more here:

Is the liquor license application cost a once of fee, and how long is the approved license valid for?


Once your license is approved it is valid for one (1) year/12 months. Thereafter a liquor license renewal application form must be submitted six (6) months before the expiry date on the license. At that point, you receive a new reference number that allows payment of the following year’s fee. This payment must be made before the expiry date. The renewal procedure, as explained above, must be done every 12months / once a year.

With regards to annual renewals, many people ask if they need to go through the same process as explained above. Is it necessary to advertise again? The answer is no. It is a much simpler application where you would not advertise again. The purpose of this application is to establish if you still qualify.

What type of License can I apply for

Basically, it is split into 2 categories

Off-consumption: a license where patrons buy alcohol and leave the premises.

  • Bottle store license
  • grocer’s license

On-consumption: a license where patrons enjoy alcohol on the premises.

  • Accommodation
  • Restaurant
  • Club
  • Night club
  • Gaming premises
  • Sports ground
  • Pub
  • Tavern
  • Theater

Other liquor license applications include and may be made for Micro Manufacture and Special Events.

We take utmost care in the screening of clients, to maintain our 100% success rate.

77 thoughts on “Quick Help With Most Asked liquor license Questions”

  1. we are looking into opening a bar, the previous owner died 2 yrs ago and building has been empyty no active liquor license, is it still posssible to get a new liquor license

  2. Sebbastiano Di Capua

    Hi Renier – I am in the process of applying for a transfer of my landlord’s liquor license into my name on his premises – may I allow the clients to bring their own alcohol in and I just supply food and mixes(no alcohol) and pool tables, TV’s. dart boards, etc – it is to become a sports pub – I will not be supplying alcohol in any form until such time as the transfer has taken place. Many thanks for your concern in this matter.Keenly awaiting your response. – Seb

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