Liquor Licencing

Liquor Licencing

A liquor license is a prerequisite for anyone who is involved with the trading, or manufacturing of liquor or liquor related products. Due to our extensive knowledge and experience in this rather complicated area of the law, we will be able to assist you with the procurement of a liquor license anywhere in South Africa.

Prior to August 2004 provincial liquor authorities regulated all liquor trade in South-Africa, in terms of the liquor Act of 1989. The Department of Trade and Industry however subsequently obtained exclusive (national) legislative competence over the macro manufacturing and distribution of liquor.

Provinces retained exclusive regulatory authority over micro manufacturing and distribution of liquor. The distinction between macro and micro manufacturing is made on the basis of the annual liquor volume production of an entity.

At present the relevant liquor legislation consists of the following:

  • The liquor Act 59 of 2003 (read together with the 1989 liquor Act)
  • In the provinces where local legislation has not been enacted.
  • The Liquor Act 59 of 2003 (read together with the applicable provincial legislation)
  • In the provinces where local legislation has been enacted.

Categories of Registration

There are various type of licenses available in respect of the manufacture, distribution and sale of liquor products:


The licenses available under the NLA are:

  • Macro Manufacturers Licenses
  • Distributor Licenses

The licenses available under the Provincial Liquor Acts are:

  • Special On Consumption Licenses
  • Special Off Consumption Licenses
  • Hotel Liquor Licences
  • Restaurant Liquor Licenses
  • Theatre Liquor Licenses
  • Club Liquor Licenses
  • Pub Liquor Licenses
  • Sports Club Liquor Licenses
  • Wholesale Liquor Licenses
  • Grocers Licenses
  • Liquor Store Licenses
  • Micro Manufacturers Licenses

Liquor Licenses must be amended (by application), under the following circumstances:

  • Procurement of a controlling interest in a licensed business
  • Structural Changes to Licensed premises
  • Storage in an additional premises
  • Storage in another district
  • Supply for tasting or promotional purposes
  • Conversion of License type
  • Extension of trading hours

Disqualification from applying for a license

Any person may apply for a liquor license, except a person who:

  • Is a minor at the date of submitting the application to the relevant authority
  • Is an unrehabilitated insolvent.
  • Has been committed in terms of the Mental Health Act 18 of 1973 at the time of application.
  • Has been convicted of a contravention of any of the Liquor Acts, within 3 years immediately preceding the date of application.
  • Has been convicted of an offence, the elements of which are inconsistent with the objects and purposes of any of the Liquor Acts.

Factors that may influence the approval of a liquor license:

A liquor license will only be granted, if it is in the public interest. It will only be in the public interest if:

  • The applicant(s) are of good character, and not disqualified from holding or managing a license in terms of any of the acts.
  • The proposed premises on which the sale or consumption of alcohol will take place is completed in accordance with the plan (of the proposed premises) that was submitted with the application.
  • The liquor authority may grant conditional approval to applications where it complies with the act, but the premises are not yet erected or require structural alternation or additions thereto.
  • The liquor authority may determine the period wherein the premises should be completed.
  • The applicant has the right to occupy the proposed premises.
  • The granting of the application does not prejudice any residents, educational institution or place of worship.
  • It is important to note that conditional approval does not amount to a license, and the applicant cannot trade until full compliance has been met.

Lapsed Licenses

The 1989 Act, as well as the various Provincial Liquor Acts, stipulates that a license shall lapse:

  • On the date on which a licensee abandons it in writing, or
  • Within 2 months after the lapse of the renewal period in respect of which the applicable yearly renewal fees are not paid.

A license holder has two (2) months to renew the license after the lapse of the renewal period, subject to the following:  

  • A 50% surcharge is applicable on the first day of the first month (after the renewal period).
  • A 100% surcharge is applicable on the first day of the second month (after the renewal period).
  • If the aforesaid provisions are not complied with, the license shall lapse, with the ensuing result that the license holder is then required to apply for a new license.