How to get a Restaurant Licence for your premises

The Liquor Licensing code in Ireland provides for several different types of Restaurant Licences. Choosing the right type for your business begins with analysing your business model and assessing which of the following licences is best for you.

  • Provision of the full range of alcohol to customers with or without food:
    In this example, you must get a pub licence if you want to sell the full range of alcoholic beverages. It may be possible for genuine restaurants to obtain a pub licence based on their restaurant planning permission. Call us to discuss your particular case. This type of premises may have a traditional bar counter.

    • Obtaining Pub Licence for well known restaurant in the face of 15 trade objectors and other objectors. (See News & Publications)
    • Obtaining a 7 Day Licence for one of Ireland’s best known Department Stores (See News & Publications)
    • Winning High Court Judicial Review (including an award of costs) for a well known restaurant to allow it to obtain and hold a Pub Licence. (See News & Publications)
  • Provision of the full range of all alcoholic beverages to customers accompanied by food before, during and after the meal:
    This model of sale requires either a pub licence or a special restaurant licence. In this example, you may operate with a special restaurant licence. This type of licensed premises may not have a traditional bar counter.
  • Provision of wine and champagne only to customers with or without food:
    This requires a wine retailer’s on licence. It also allows the sale of wine and champagne off the premises, if required. This type of licensed premises may not have a traditional bar counter.
  • Provision of wine/champagne and beer to customers accompanied by food before, during and after a meal:
    This type of sale requires you to obtain a wine retailers on-licence from customs and excise and a restaurant certificate from the District Court. It does not allow the sale of beer without a meal, but wine and champagne may be sold without food. This type of licences premises may not have a traditional bar counter.

How to get a Special Restaurant Licence for your restaurant:

To get a special restaurant licence from customs and excise you must first make an application to your nearest Circuit Court.

What factors will the Circuit Court consider when hearing my Application?

The court must be satisfied as to the good character of the person applying for the licence and the fitness or convenience of the proposed premises to hold this type of licence. You will have to prove your Title to the premises and if it is proposed to run the business by means of a Limited Company, you will have to produce the Certificate of Incorporation and the Memorandum and Articles of Association, which the court will examine to see if it contains the appropriate powers to run a licensed restaurant. It is necessary that the person or company who applies for the licence must also be the same person or company holding the property by means of freehold or leasehold Title. You must show the court that the user clause in the lease, if the Title id leasehold, specifically allows the sale of alcohol.

How do I know if my proposed premises will be suitable to be licensed?

As regards suitability, in licensing cases the Circuit Court must ensure that the premises comply with other laws relevant to planning and building control. To do this you must employ an architect who will give evidence confirming that the appropriate planning permission and fire safety certificates have been obtained and must produce them in court. Your architect must also prepare a detailed set of licensing plans for the court which must also be served on the Gardaí and the Fire Safety Officer for the area and must give evidence that the premises is a bona fide restaurant. Compton Solicitors will help you choose an appropriate architect throughout the country for this work.

What about objections?

The Gardaí and fire officers may object if they are not satisfied with aspects of the project. Any local resident may object, but this would be rare enough in the case of a restaurant licence.

How do I renew a Special Restaurant Licence?

It is renewed annually through Customs and Excise. Remember to promptly send in your renewal form or preferably register for ROS and renew online. If you fail to renew it during the licensing year, you must go back to the Circuit Court and revive it as if it were a new licence Application.

Special features of Special Restaurant Licence which should be noted:

  • The premises must not contain a Bar. Legal advice should be taken on the proposed fit out in this regard before it is carried out.
  • Alcohol must only be sold for consumption on the premises and is restricted to patrons waiting to be served a meal, during the meal or within thirty minutes after the meal has ended.
  • Does not allow the owner to apply for special exemption orders i.e. a late licence.
  • No “Drinking up” time as with a pub licence.
  • Alcohol must not be sold before 12.30 pm, although food can be sold at any time.
  • Special Restaurant Licence may be transferred to a new owner by the District Court but may not be transferred to different premises.

Trading hours for premises having a Special Restaurant Licence:

Mon–Thurs Fri–Sat Sunday Holidays
12.30pm– 12.30am 12.30pm– 1.30am 12.30pm-12.00am Christmas Eve 12.30pm-12.30am
Christmas Day:12.00pm-10.00pm
St. Patricks Day/Eve of Public Holiday:


How do I get a Restaurant Certificate for my premises allowing sale of Wine, Champagne and Beer with food only?

If you are content to sell wine, champagne and beer with food only, you must first obtain wine retailers on licence from Customs and Excise.  As the holder of such a licence you are then entitled to apply to the District Court for a restaurant certificate.  If the court grants this certificate you may also sell beer with meals.  In order to avail of this concession however, the premises must not contain a bar.  Legal Advice should be taken as to the proposed fit out of the premises.

Can I find out in advance if my local District Court will approve the grant of the Restaurant Certificate before I carry out expensive works?

Yes, you can ascertain from the court if they will approve the application before carrying out the works. It is called a Declaratory Procedure and is available to establish whether the Court will grant the restaurant certificate. It may not be used for a special restaurant licence.

What factors will the District Court consider in hearing an application for a new Restaurant Certificate?

You must prove to the court and to the Gardaí that the premises are structurally adopted for use and bona fide and mainly used as a restaurant.  To this end, the court will look at evidence of the following:

  • Physical aspects of the premises, the size of the kitchen facilities,
  • The range and availability of meals and times when they are available,
  • Evidence that the receipts from restaurant part of the business are substantial,
  • The number of staff employed and their training and experience.

How do I renew this type of Licence?

You must renew the underlying wine retailers on licence or publicans licence as applicable through customs and excise each September 30th each year, however the restaurant certificate itself must be granted annually by the District Court at the end of September each year.

Compton Solicitors renew restaurant certificates at annual licensing in the City and County of Dublin and Naas District Court areas. “Renewal services for annual renewal of alcohol and entertainment licences”.

Can I transfer a Restaurant Certificate of this type to a new owner?

In general, no.  Furthermore, the underlying wine retailers on-licence may not be transferred and a new owner must apply to Customs and Excise themselves for new wine retailers on-licence.  This takes approx 8 weeks.  The new owner can apply for a new restaurant certificate from the court when the wine retailers on-licence issues to them.

Compton Solicitors have over 30 years experience in applying for all forms of Liquor Licences and Restaurant Licences and would be happy to give preliminary advice on planning, legal and fit out issues for any Licence projects countrywide

Why choose us?

Liquor Licensing is a complex and multi-faceted process.
We pride ourselves on providing a simple, non-technical road map with a speedy timeline for completion of the project.   Along the way, we will liaise directly with architects and accountants to leave you free to concentrate on your business.
See Liquor Licensing main page

This document is intended to provide a general overview and guidance on a particular topic. It is provided wholly without any liability or responsibility on the part of Compton Solicitors and does not replace the necessity to obtain specific legal advice.


For more information contact:

Lorraine Compton
T: +353 86 253 4651
E: lorraine.compton@comptonsolicitors.ie
Fiona Tonge
T: +353 89 471 4128
E: Fiona.tonge@comptonsolicitors.ie


© Compton Solicitors 2017