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Special Licence

This page provides information on how and when to apply for a Special Licence, and links to relevant documents and information.
Updated: 12/04/2019 11:34 a.m.

When is a special licence required

You need to apply for a special licence if you are:

  • Selling alcohol at an event
  • Including alcohol in a ticket price or as part of a service
  • Supplying alcohol free of charge, at either a ticketed event or one where donations are being collected

If you are unsure whether a special licence is required, please use our flowchart to assist you.

Special Licence flowchart [287kb]

Types of special licence


Allows for the sale and supply of alcohol, for consumption on the premises (or in a designated area) where the event is being held (including on a bus, train, ferry or other vehicle – called a conveyance style special licence)


Allows for the sale of alcohol to people to take away for consumption elsewhere.  The licence holder may also supply samples of alcohol free of charge, for consumption on the premises.

When a special licence is not required or alcohol is to be consumed in a Public Place

You do not need to apply for a special licence if alcohol is being supplied free of charge, or guests are bringing their own to a private event, as long as the event is not open to the public, and there is no cover/door charge for the private event. 

In this instance, complete the Notification of Social Event form linked below and submit it to us at least 10 days before the event.

If your event, or part of your event, is being held in a Public Place where alcohol is to be consumed, dispensation from Council is required to allow for this. 

To apply for dispensation, please complete the application form on page two in the form linked below.

Notification of Social Event Form and Application for Dispensation to allow Consumption of Alcohol in a Public Place [162kb]

We then forward the Notification of Social Event form to the New Zealand Police (Whangarei District) who may carry out monitoring of the event.  There is no fee for this and no licence is issued. 

If you also apply for dispensation for alcohol to be consumed in a Public Place, this application is forwarded to our Bylaw Enforcement Coordinator who will liaise with Council's Parks Department.  

Notification will be given as to whether your application has been approved or not.  There is no fee for this.

Please note, there are some restrictions on when BYO is permitted at events. 

Our flowchart (link above) can assist you, if you are unsure of the requirements.

Applying for a special licence

Under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012, weekends, statutory holidays and any days from 20 December through to and including 15 January, are not considered working days. 

Please take this into consideration if you are applying for a special licence for an event between late December and mid-February. 

Generally, an application for this period needs to be lodged by 18 November for a small or medium-scale event, to ensure it can be processed in time.

Application must be made at least 20 working days prior to the event, or 50 working days for a large-scale event. 

Definition of event sizes

  • Large event – attended by more than 400 people
  • Medium event – attended by 100 – 400 people
  • Small event – attended by less than 100 people

If you are planning a large-scale event, additional information is required including an Alcohol Management Plan. Click on the link below for a template.

Alcohol Management Plan Template

For further information, read the guidelines below:

Guidelines for managing alcohol at large events

The fee depends on the size of your event, and how many events (of similar nature) are applied for on one application.

To apply for a special licence, please complete the Special Licence application form. 

Special Licence application form [998kb]

Submit it to us with the appropriate fee.  Further information, including fees, can be found in the application form.

Processing of a special licence application

The application is reviewed and reported on by the Alcohol Harm Reduction Officer at the New Zealand Police (Whangarei District), Medical Officer of Health at the Northland District Health Board, and one of our Licensing Officers.

If there are any issues or concerns with the application, or it is opposed by any of those mentioned above, you will be contacted.

The application is forwarded to the District Licensing Committee to consider.  If your application is granted, we will issue the licence.  If declined, you will not receive a refund.

If you have any queries, please contact the Health and Bylaws department on (09) 430 4243. 


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