Alcohol licencing

If in doubt, contact your local authority.

Each local authority has a slightly different manner in dealing with alcohol licencing, and moreover, each OFN business operates in its own distinct manner.

In what follows on this page is an outline of Licencing law in the UK. The law is complex and, hence, it is best to seek advice from an expert for guidance on where your specific business fits within this framework.

License Types

The two types of Alcohol License which may be relevant to your OFN business are:

      • Premises License
      • Personal License

Premises Licence

Any premises in which licens-able activities are carried out is required to have an alcohol license.

The definition of ‘premises’ and ‘licens-able activity’ are set out by the 2003 Licensing Act as:

  • Premises: A place (fixed structure) or part of a place as well as a vehicle, vessel or moveable structure.
  • Licensable Activity: The sale or supply of alcohol as described here.

Personal Licence

Not everyone who is employed by a business which sells alcohol is required to have a license, but for each licensed premise there must be at least one person who holds a personal license (the ‘designated licensed supervisor’).

Selling alcohol to another business

Any business which sells or supplies alcohol to another business for resale must be registered in the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme.  This includes not only breweries, vineyards and distilleries but also intermediate businesses and charities/not for profit organisations.

Exemptions apply if your business mainly sells to retail customers and either unknowingly or in an uninvited manner occasionally makes a sale to another business who then goes on to resell the item.

Apply to join the AWRS here

Check if a supplier is registered with the scheme here.

Case one: Alcohol producer


Example OFN public shop Supplies an OFN hub with a public shopfront License required Notes
Alcohol producer Brewer, vineyard, distillery Y N



Y Y Need to register with AWRS

Case two: Food hub

As a food hub retailing alcohol you are responsible for ensuring sales only go to customers aged 18 years and over.


Example Lists alcohol on shop front Sells to the public License required Notes
Food Hub selling to  consumers Farmer’s market, CFE, community shop, buying group Y Y


Premises *

Need to check that supplier of alcohol is registered with AWRS
Food Hub selling to other businesses for resale Wholesaler Y N


Premises *

Both the hub and supplier need to be registered with AWRS


* NOTE in the strictest sense since the money from the sale of alcohol on an OFN shop front passes through the food hub and does not go directly to the supplier (who must have an alcohol license), hence the hub should have a license too.

However, local authorities may waiver this since the listing for the alcohol containing product is owned by the alcohol producer (who has a license) not the food hub itself. This waiver may be dependent on the hub not holding a stock of alcohol-containing products.

An alternative method of managing your alcohol sales

As a food hub you can list and sell alcohol on your shop front without a license if you set up order cycles in a manner such that the money from the sales of the alcohol goes directly to the alcohol producer (who owns a license) and you do not hold a stock of these products.

The way to do this is:

  • Alcohol producer is listed on the OFN platform as a HUB. (HUB A)
  • Your community Food Hub is listed on the OFN platform as a HUB (HUB B)
  • Enterprise permissions:
    • HUB A permits HUB B to add to order cycle
    • HUB B permits HUB A to add to order cycle

HUB A sets up an order cycle (ie they are the order cycle coordinator and will collect the money from customer purchases). Incoming products are owned by HUB A but the distributor (ie. the URL of the shopfront) of the order cycle is HUB B.

At the end of each order cycle, HUB A informs HUB B of customers who purchased alcohol so that HUB B can manage collection/delivery.  HUB A pays HUB B the ‘enterprise fee’ proportion of sales to cover overheads and business costs.