Ireland's Licensing Laws: Everything You Need to Know About Selling and Buying Alcohol | Alliance online blog (2023)

As is common worldwide practice, if a bar or restaurant wants to sell alcohol, it must obtain the appropriate licenses to do so. Whether you are looking to open a bar, pub, restaurant or any other type of establishment that sells alcohol on premises, it is imperative that you read and comply with applicable laws to avoid problems that arise later can.

So it has been established that you need a license to sell alcohol in some form. Understandably, it can be difficult to fully understand the logistics of acquiring a license; However, following this article, you can obtain the proper license to sell alcohol on your premises. In fact, the aim of this guide is to provide a detailed overview of the necessary requirements for aspiring pub owners and to provide an update for current pub or bar owners as new laws are passed frequently. The cost of the first pub license is €250.

Keep in mind:This guide only deals with the licensing laws for the Republic of Ireland and anyone reading this from England and Wales please read our article which deals with this. People in Scotland and Northern Ireland will also have their own licensing laws which will differ from Ireland and England and Wales. It is also important to note that I will mainly be covering the general premises and not the member clubs.

It would be helpful to remember that this is a guide to how a company should trade and we would advise anyone attempting to obtain a license to read all laws and regulations.

There are different types of alcohol licensing that someone can try and it is important that you fully understand what area of ​​alcohol licensing you are in as there are different types. The following types are available:

  • Licensed ordinary customs officers:

This alcohol license is intended to allow the licensee to sell alcoholic beverages in a building only during normal business hours. To apply for this license an application must be made to the Circuit Court (second tier of the Irish judicial system and only local jurisdiction applies).

  • Special Release Order License:

This alcohol license is very similar to the Ordinary Publicans On license in that it allows the licensee to sell alcoholic beverages during normal opening hours, but differs in closing hours. The special permit is notable for being able to extend closing times with a curfew time set at 2:30am. To obtain this license, applications must be made in the local district court.

  • Public Music and Singing License and/or Public Dance License:

To sell alcohol in a nightclub or discotheque, the appropriate license would be the Public License for Music and Singing and/or the Public License for Dance. This license would also be granted by the local district court.

  • Restaurant Certificate License:

The Restaurant Certificate License was designed for pubs that serve food and allows pubs that serve rich food to also serve alcohol. This license allows pubs to serve alcohol for 1 hour after normal opening hours, but only if it accompanies a meal.

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  • Restaurant Certificate Restricted License:

The Limited Restaurant Certificate license is the same principle except it is obviously restricted to a part of the bar which has the same exception.

  • Licensed Wine Merchant:

This is a "soda house" license that allows the sale of spirits such as wine and sherry that contain less than 23% alcohol.

  • occasional vacation:

The occasional license is primarily used for events held at a venue that does not normally sell alcohol and can be issued to the holder of an existing license. This permit must also be applied for at the local district court.

minimum unit price

from January 4thDieIn 2022 a law called Minimum Unit Price came into force in Ireland. The idea for this law stems from the nation's belief that alcohol consumption needs to be addressed, as many bars and pubs sell alcoholic beverages at low prices that are dangerously fueling patrons' drinking needs. How did you go about it? Well, one of the measures put in place is to set a minimum price at which a drink can be sold. The benchmark for this is 10 cents per gram of alcohol, although this doesn't appear to be very effective in reducing consumption, so far in 2022 we have seen a change in consumer behavior as fewer people choose to buy alcohol. However, don't worry as we understand that reducing alcohol consumption can lead to a drop in sales, this is not the case as the alcohol industry is still growing and bars and restaurants are developing new avenues of success. So if you are planning to open a bar or restaurant and you have obtained the right license, after this process there are still laws that must be strictly followed.

youth and alcohol

To be served alcohol you must be over 18 in Ireland. It is a criminal offense to serve alcohol to anyone under the age of 18, and it is also illegal to pretend to be 18 or older to purchase alcohol. It is also the case when someone buys alcohol on behalf of someone who is also under that age.

„Happy Hour“ ist out

Alcohol prices are now expected to remain flat in Ireland during the day, again as part of the latest 2022 measures put in place to curb binge drinking. This means that the traditional concept of 'happy hour' is now illegal in Ireland. So any wannabe host should be aware that it is illegal to offer alcoholic beverages at a lower price. Not only "Happy Hour" but additional illegal drinking promotions include:

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  • Loyalty card programs that reward alcohol purchases
  • Promotions that allow you to buy alcohol at a reduced price when you buy it with another product
  • Last minute price changes lasting less than 3 days

drinking outdoors

Although there is no blanket ban, there are various local and regional ordinances that prohibit drinking in public places. An example of this is that the Gardaí can confiscate alcohol if they believe someone who is drinking is behaving in a disorderly manner that could endanger their safety and the safety of those around them. It is important to note that you as a bartender or restaurant owner do not participate in this opportunity.

strict advertising rules

The Irish Government has introduced numerous restrictions to limit the potential dangers of alcohol sales and to encourage people to drink less. Some of the key changes and rules that businesses must comply with when it comes to advertising are:

  • A company must not advertise in or on public vehicles such as buses or trains. And public transport stops. Advertising for alcoholic beverages must also take place outside a 200m radius of a school, kindergarten or crèche. This also applies to a municipal playground.
  • A movie theater must have an official license to advertise alcoholic beverages.
  • Advertising is strictly prohibited at events aimed at children or where the majority of participants are children.
  • As well as a sports field or playing surface during a game or competition. However, advertising can take place in the stadium or via billboards.
  • Advertising for alcoholic beverages is also prohibited at events involving automobiles.

The Alcohol Sales Invoice

The Alcohol Sales Act aims to streamline the process and dissemination of information related to the license required to sell alcohol. Intends to modernize and streamline licensing law to make it easier and clearer for people who want to start selling alcohol to… sell alcohol.

sanctions and fines

A wide range of penalties and fines can be imposed in Ireland on pub owners and citizens who break this Act in relation to alcohol. The following are some of the main instances of these penalties:

Selling or dispensing alcohol to anyone under the age of 18Fine of up to €5,000 and order of closure to a license holder
Alcohol consumption among minors

Pretending to be 18 or older to purchase alcohol

Allow your child or children to be on a licensed property unsupervised

Fine of up to €500
Supplying alcohol to an intoxicated personFine of €4,000 for the first violation and €5,000 for the second or subsequent violations
Acting in an improper manner or not leaving Licensed Premises when requested to do so by Licensee or a Garda.Fine of up to €500
Being so drunk in a public place that you pose a risk to yourself or othersFine of up to €500
Modifying an old Garda mapFine of up to €2,500 and/or imprisonment of up to 12 months

Public Health Law 2018

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As the dangers related to children increase, it is not surprising that in 2018 the Irish Government introduced the Public Health Act 2018. The Public Health Act 2018 was created with the main policy objectives of this act focusing on:

  • Reduce alcohol consumption to 9.1 liters of pure alcohol per person per year by 2020
  • Delay the onset of alcohol consumption in children and adolescents
  • Reduce the harm caused by alcohol abuse
  • Ensure that the supply and price of alcohol is regulated and controlled to minimize the possibility and occurrence of alcohol-related harm.
  • The law contains provisions on minimum unit prices, structural separation, health labeling of alcohol-containing products.

Please note: This article is valid from: 07/28/2022. Some laws may change in the time between the writing of this article and the time you read it, so please be sure to fully understand the details listed and take precautions by making surethe same laws apply.

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Ireland's Licensing Laws: Everything You Need to Know About Selling and Buying Alcohol | Alliance online blog (1)

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Ireland's Licensing Laws: Everything you need to know about buying and selling alcohol


An in-depth look at alcohol licensing laws and regulations in Ireland and the steps that need to be taken to be able to sell alcohol in your shop.


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