Event liquor licence

What you need to know about temporary and event liquor licences

“Pop-ups” are becoming common in all walks of life. There are pop-up restaurants, pop-up second-hand clothing shops, and pop-up cocktail bars. Regardless of the duration or the reach of the pop-up, if alcohol is sold, the outlet must have a liquor licence. Even a small function with only, for example, 20 people, hosted in a private home, requires a liquor licence if liquor is sold and not offered freely to guests. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter if the host owns a bar or restaurant and holds a liquor licence in their professional capacity. If they are selling liquor in another place, they require a liquor licence for those premises. The golden rule to keep in mind is: where liquor is sold, a liquor licence must be in evidence. There are two types of licence that may apply to the scenarios described above: a temporary liquor licence and an event liquor licence. Let’s look at the difference.

Temporary liquor licence vs. event liquor licence

When the new Western Cape Liquor Act 4 of 2008 (“the Act”) was drafted, the industry had hopes that applying for a temporary or event liquor licence would be a fairly quick and hassle-free administrative process. Unfortunately, the reality turned out to be somewhat different. When the Act came into operation on 1 April 2012, applying for a temporary or special event liquor licence became a daunting procedure.

The two types of licence are virtually the same. The distinction is that only holders of a permanent liquor licence can apply for a temporary liquor licence. A private individual or organisation wishing to sell alcohol at a one-off event must apply for an event liquor licence if they are not liquor licence holders in any other capacity.

The application process

The documentation and information that must be provided for an application for a temporary or event liquor licence is the same as an application for a permanent liquor licence, except that no zoning certificate is required. See the Western Cape Liquor Authority website for the documentation required for a permanent licence. Or find out how to renew your liquor licence.

Fee structure

An application for a temporary or event liquor licence must be submitted 40 days before the first day of the event. An application can still be submitted after the 40-day cut-off, but a penalty fee for late submission will be levied. The applicant must also apply for condonation for the late filing of the application. An unintended consequence of this regulation (or perhaps it was intended!) was that temporary and event licences became quite costly. Not all events are planned 40 days in advance. An opportunity might arise, for example, for a wine or craft beer producer to exhibit their wares less than 40 days in advance at a farmer’s market, perhaps as a late participant or substitute for a cancellation. In order to do so legally, with the proper licence, they will be subject to the penalty fees.

The penalty fee is a fee per each day the application is submitted late and currently the fee is R475 per day. Therefore, if the application is submitted on day 30 prior to the event, the application is 10 days late and the penalty fee would be R4,750!

Mobile liquor licence (spoiler alert – it doesn’t exist)

There is a misconception that the Act makes provision for a “mobile liquor licence”.  However, there is no such thing. A liquor licence is linked to a specific premises. Someone who holds a liquor licence on premises A is not authorised to sell liquor on premises B. If the premises A licence holder wants to sell liquor on premises B, they must submit the necessary application to the Western Cape Liquor Authority. This is the case even if someone else holds a licence to sell alcohol on premises B.

To illustrate this, consider the following scenario:

Premises B, with an existing liquor licence, invites a local wine producer to host a tasting of its wines on the premises. The producer holds a liquor licence at its premises (call them premises A), and premises B holds a liquor licence. Everyone is covered, right? Wrong! Only the holder of a liquor licence is allowed to sell liquor on the licensed premises. In this example, the wine producer must apply for a temporary liquor licence (assuming it is a permanent licence holder at premises A) or an event liquor licence (if the producer is, for example, a “garagiste winemaker” with no public premises), to host the tasting at premises B.

Help with your event liquor licence

Don’t fall foul of the Act. We will ensure you have the right licence for every circumstance and your application is submitted within the requisite time frames (or as quickly as possible if your event is less than 40 days away). Get legal help with your liquor licence application here.


The information on this website is provided to assist the reader with a general understanding of the law. While we believe the information to be factually accurate, and have taken care in our preparation of these pages, these articles cannot and do not take individual circumstances into account and are not a substitute for personal legal advice. If you have a legal matter that concerns you, please consult a qualified attorney. Simon Dippenaar & Associates takes no responsibility for any action you may take as a result of reading the information contained herein (or the consequences thereof), in the absence of professional legal advice.