Are you properly licensed?


Renew your liquor licence on time and make sure you have the right licence for your outlet

It's time to renew your liquor licence

If you sell alcohol, in whatever type of establishment – bottle store, grocery shop, bar or restaurant – this is probably your busiest time of year. Workers are enjoying end-of-year functions, shoppers are stocking up for the forthcoming festive season, everyone is winding down and spending more time socialising than usual. Hopefully, your business is booming. But it’s also the time of year when you must renew your liquor licence!

When you must renew your liquor licence

Renewals in the Western Cape are due by 31 December. If you are late, you will pay a significant penalty. A delay until 31 January will incur a 50% surcharge and until 28 February will incur a 100% surcharge.  During the month of March an application for condonation must be approved by the CEO in order to renew the liquor licence together with a penalty of 150%. If the application for condonation is not approved, the liquor licence will lapse.  However busy you are, set the time aside to complete your renewal and make sure your payment reaches the Western Cape Liquor Authority (WCLA) on or before 31 December. 

You can renew your liquor licence every two years

If your cash flow allows, you may find the biennial renewal option more attractive. It gives you the convenience of only having to remember your renewal every second year. However, to qualify for the biennial renewal cycle you must have notified the WCLA of your intention by 30 November. If you missed the boat this year, you must renew your liquor licence for one year as usual. Then complete the correct form and submit it to the authority in good time next year. However, you need to remember that, should you opt to renew biennially, you will not be able to change the renewal back to an annual renewal.  

Types of licence

There are four standard types of liquor licence:

  1. Micro-manufacture on- & off-consumption
  2. On-consumption
  3. Off-consumption 
  4. On- and off-consumption (only under exceptional circumstances)

 These are fairly self-explanatory, but for clarity, examples of each include:

  1. Wine farm / Wine cellar / Brewery / Distillery 
  2. Restaurant 
  3. Liquor store 
  4. Deli – patrons visiting the deli can enjoy a glass of wine or beer but also visit the shop at the deli and purchase closed bottles of liquor for consumption off the premises (very popular in smaller tourist towns)

In addition to these permanent licences, necessary for operating any establishment that sells liquor, there are two types of temporary licence: temporary and an event liquor licence. Let’s look at these.

Temporary licence

A temporary licence is needed when an existing licence holder wishes to sell liquor from an alternative, temporary venue. This could be a weekend market or seasonal pop-up event. Temporary liquor licences can run for up to 14 consecutive days at a time but cannot be granted for more than 30 days in a calendar year.  Note that the process for applying for a temporary licence is almost as rigorous as for a permanent licence, and is for existing licence holders only.

Event licence

This is the licence you need if you are hosting a fundraising event or fête (for example) and want to sell liquor. You are not in the trade and your event is a one-off. Anyone above the age of 18 who has not been disqualified can apply for an event liquor licence. You must apply at least 40 days before your event date, but don’t leave it to the last minute as there is quite a lot of documentation to compile to support your application. 

How to apply

More information and all relevant application forms can be found at, but to ensure you follow the correct procedures and secure your licence in good time, with the minimum of hassle, it makes sense to engage the services of an expert liquor licensing lawyer. SD Law will manage the application process for you affordably and efficiently. Contact Simon on 086 099 5146 or email to discuss your liquor licensing needs.

Further reading:

How to apply for a liquor licence

Liquor licensing – a slow process

What you need to know about the new liquor licence laws

Special event liquor licence

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The information on this website is provided to assist the reader with a general understanding of the law. While we believe the information to be factually accurate, and have taken care in our preparation of these pages, these articles cannot and do not take individual circumstances into account and are not a substitute for personal legal advice. If you have a legal matter that concerns you, please consult a qualified attorney. Simon Dippenaar & Associates takes no responsibility for any action you may take as a result of reading the information contained herein (or the consequences thereof), in the absence of professional legal advice.

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