Most asked liquor license questions and answers – Q&A

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 offenses 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 is located in a commercial 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, makes 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 my happen in the case of objections lodged against your application. Another delay may come from  incomplete or outdated attachments to the application.

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 in the premises at all times. This mean that you must have the signed final copy of the license in hand before trading my 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.

I want to compile and lodge an application. What happens next?


Once you contact us, we start with a screening of your proposed liquor license application. The screening tells us if you and the proposed premises, qualify to become and manage a licensed liquor outlet.   In the case where your screening proves that the liquor license application will NOT be approved, we start by advising you on the options you have to become eligible. At this point we do not start working on your application.

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



  1. My sister is thinking of getting a liquor license for her restaurant and I had no idea that there are two different types of licenses: off-consumption and on-consumption. She is looking for a license where the customers can use alcohol on the premises inside the restaurant as well as on the patio. Also, I will make sure to tell my sister that it can take up to eight months so she needs to make sure the application is completely filled out so she won’t deal with any delays.

  2. I thought it was interesting that you could have no criminal record for the previous ten years to get approved for a license. My friend wants to set up a bar, so of course he needs a license. This article will really help him understand liquor laws, so I’m definitely going to share it with him.

  3. It’s interesting to learn that filing of a liquor license can take about 8 months and possible delays may arise when there are documents that are yet to be accomplished or looked into. This will give business owners the opportunity to look into other facets of their start-up bar businesses while waiting for their liquor licenses to be approved prior to the start of operations.
    I’m fond of drinking with my friends during weekends that if we decide to take on a bar business, we’ll certainly make a note of this fact for our future efforts.

    1. Good day
      the article refers to KZN only other provinces it is not such a lengthy process
      And it also must be said that the application time has improved over the past year and in most cases it is more like 6 months now

  4. Hi I want to apply for a liquor licence for a tavern the property is my mothers so what documents will I need to produce since the property is not in my name?

  5. Hi, i want to apply for a liquor licence , i want to run a tavern and I have a property in Eastern Cape, will I be able to get a licence since I’m not in KZN?

  6. Mr Renier I would like to apply for a distribution liquor licence please do help with the documentation and like how to obtain it, including the pricing please sir..

  7. Hi sir am young guy I have an opportunity to run a place they call it Eyadini it in ladysmith and now it became a tavern I wanna apply for licensed help sir

      1. My tenants ask me to buy them booze because they are working during the week..
        I was buying it and allowing them to pay me on pay day.
        We came to an agreement that they would pay me for petrol.
        Am l in the wrong ?

        1. The act says you are not allowed to trade with alcohol without a license
          You can in any event buy for your friend(in your case tenants) provided you do not make money from it in other words not selling it you are purely a messenger its like friends going to braai and 1 goes to the store and buy for all of them.

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