How to get a pub licence


If you want to serve your customers alcohol over a traditional bar counter or sit and drink alcohol at a bar counter without the need to serve food to them, you need a pub licence. Premises with restaurant certificates (unless they also have a pub licence) or special restaurant licences by law, must not have a bar counter and alcohol may only be served to customers at a table before, during or after food.

A premises with a pub licence which obtains a dance licence, may apply for special exemption orders to operate a late bar. In contrast, a premises with a special restaurant licence cannot apply for special exemptions and is confined to selling alcohol before, during or after food for an hour beyond the normal core pub trading hours.

What planning permission is required for a pub?

If you want a pub with no requirement whatsoever to sell food, whether it is a green field site or an existing building, you will need to get planning permission for a public house.

If you are a bona fide restaurant with planning permission for a restaurant, you may apply in certain circumstances to the Courts for a pub licence for your restaurant. If granted, this will allow you to have a bar counter and to sell alcohol to customers who are not eating provided you have a full kitchen and continue to offer a full menu and operate as a bona fide restaurant.

  • 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)

Choosing the best architect for your project is very important as they will become one of the most important witnesses in your Court application for a pub licence. Getting the planning right from the start will leave your Court application less vulnerable if there are objectors. We can help you choose an appropriate architect throughout the country for this work.

How do I get a pub licence if my planning permission and fire safety is in order?

Before you set about applying to the Court for a pub licence, certain house-keeping matters involving your business and the proposed pub premises must be put in order. This includes the Title to the property, the vehicle or structure to be used to apply for the licence and whether there has ever historically been a pub licence attaching to the proposed premises at any time in the past.

We can advise you on the best and quickest way forward for your particular circumstances and the correct company vehicle to be used to apply for and hold the licence.

How do I know if the premises I have in mind will be suitable to obtain a pub licence?

We carry out due diligence on the target premises whether it is a greenfield site or an existing building and liaise with your architect. We can give you a good indication whether your project has a chance of succeeding.

Do I have to purchase an existing 7 Day publican’s licence in order to get a pub licence for my premises?

Yes. It is one of the requirements for the grant of a 7-day publican’s licence for a premises, that the holder of an existing 7 Day publican’s licence from anywhere in the country consents in the Circuit Court to the extinguishment of their licence in favour of the grant of a new 7 Day publican’s licence for a new premises. Compton Solicitors will source an appropriate licence for each project.

Do I buy or lease a premises and then try and get a pub licence?

Unless there are pressing commercial reasons for you to do so, we would always advise that the commercial deal should be structured so as to be conditional on planning permission, if necessary, and licensing approval by the Court. We can provide you with a clear road map for your project to ensure that you are not tied into buying or leasing a property unless the project succeeds in getting planning and Court approval.

What are the trading hours of a pub?

  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday: 10.30am to 11.30pm
  • Friday and Saturday: 10.30am to 12.30am
  • Sunday 12.30pm to 11pm
  • St. Patrick’s Day (even where it falls on a Sunday): 12.30pm to 12.30am
  • December 23 (only where it falls on a Sunday): 10.30am to 11.30pm
  • Christmas Eve: 10.30am to 11.30pm
  • The eve of a public holiday (other than Christmas Eve) which falls on a weekday: 10.30am to 12.30am
  • The eve of a public holiday (other than Christmas Eve) which falls on a Sunday: 12.30pm to 12.30am
  • Christmas Day: no sale permitted

It is important to note that a period of 30 minutes is allowed after the above closing times and after a special exemption order for the finishing of drinks and the clearing of persons from the premises (drinking up time).

If the pub serves food, you can apply for a restaurant certificate which will allow the sale of alcohol with food for one hour beyond normal pub trading hours. If the premises also has a dance licence, you may apply for special exemption orders allowing trade until 2:30am. If your premises is entitled to get special exemption orders, because it also has a dance licence, it is not necessary to sell a meal to customers during the extension period.

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