A special licence allows the sale or supply of alcohol on a given premises or conveyance for the duration of a specific occasion or event. A special licence can also be issued to an on- or club licensee for an event not covered by their licence. The information below will guide you through what's required. If you have any further queries about special licences, please contact us (ask for alcohol licensing) or email us.
Special licence requirements and types
An application for a special licence MUST be lodged at least 20 working days before the event(s) is/are to be held.
Applications received within 20 working days of the event will not be accepted.
For large events, we expect applications to be lodged at least 30 working days before the event(s).
A 'working day' does not include weekends, statutory holidays or any day from 20 December and 15 January (inclusive).
When is a special licence required?
If alcohol is sold at an event or supplied to the public at an event, the person responsible needs to get a special licence. They also need a special licence if alcohol will be available and they charge an entry/ticket fee, or ask for a donation or koha.
Even if an event is to take place on already-licensed premises, as a licensee you will need to check whether a special licence may be needed in relation to the event, as it may not be covered by your existing on- or club licence.
You do not need a special licence if you are supplying alcohol to guests in your own private residence or you are holding a private event where alcohol is not being sold.
A special licence can cover one event or a series of events, for up to 12 months after it is issued.
Types of special licence
There are two types of special licence: on-site and off-site. An on-site special licence allows the sale or supply of alcohol that will be consumed at the event. An off-site special licence allows the sale or supply of alcohol that will be taken away and consumed at another place. This also allows free samples to be supplied. An off-site special licensee can only sell their alcohol (for example, a winery can sell the wine they produce).
Applying for a special licence
You can apply for a special licence by filling out the appropriate online form here. You can also download a PDF of the form (PDF, 534 KB). Application fee details are explained on the form. You will also need to some supporting documentation with your application. The application checklist on the first page of the form will assist you in ensuring you lodge a complete application.
Applications can be lodged at the customer service centre at Hamilton City Council in Garden Place. Alternatively, applications can be posted to The Secretary, Hamilton District Licensing Committee, Private Bag 3010, Hamilton 3240.
Applications must be lodged at least 20 working days before the event. Applications received within 20 working days of the event will not be accepted. For large events, we expect applications to be lodged at least 30 working days before the event(s).
The application process
Applications can take up to 30 working days to process, or longer if further information is required from the applicant or a public hearing is required. To ensure a smooth and swift processing time, it is important that the information supplied with your application is complete and accurate.
Once received, your application is checked to ensure that the details you have supplied are in line with the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012. The criteria for the issue of a special licence is set out in section 142 of the Act. In addition to The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act, a licence must also comply with any other act or policy that Council deems relevant, such as the Building Code of Compliance, Resource Management Act or Food Hygiene Regulations 1974. For more details on relevant acts and policies, see the NZ Legislation website.
A copy of the application is sent to the Police, the Medical Officer of Health and Licensing Inspector, for their report. The applicant will receive copies of these reports as well as any objections received.
Hearings, objections and decisions
Finally, once all documentation and reports are received, the application is then put before our district licensing committee (DLC) for their decision. If your application receives any objections, a public hearing may be required. The DLC may also refer your application to the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority (ARLA). You will receive notification of the DLC's decision via mail.
We also provide regularly-updated lists of Hamilton DLC decisions in relation to all Hamilton city alcohol licence applications on our website.
Find out more about applying for (or renewing) a licence (premises) and applying for (or renewing) a manager's certificate.