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For further information write to:

Scottish Government Licensing Team
Area GW14
St Andrew's House
Regent Road


0131 244 7931

Policy in detail: Alcohol licensing

Urgent information for Personal Licence Holders

All Personal Licence Holders are required to undertake refresher training every five years and renew their licence before ten years elapses.

If you obtained your personal licence before the end of 2009 then you need to take action NOW, further details are included in The Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 – Personal Licence Holder Communications Document

Additional material in relation to Personal Licence Holders is available on the Personal Licences subpage. 

Recent Additions 

The Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 – Liquor Personal Licence Holder – Training Accreditation – This training accreditation document, issued by Scottish Ministers, sets out the appropriate training qualifications for Personal Licence Holders. Further details are available on the Personal Licences subpage.

Alcohol Licensing

The Scottish Government is responsible for regulating the powers of Scottish local authorities and Licensing Boards in relation to licensing the sale of alcohol.

Licensing is the responsibility of Licensing Boards. Local Licensing Boards have wide discretion to determine appropriate licensing arrangements according to local needs and circumstances and their own legal advice.

The Scottish Government publishes annual Scottish liquor licensing statistics on the number of premises and personal licences in force, applications and reviews/proceedings.


The main piece of legislation that controls the sale of alcohol is the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005.

This Act balances the rights of the majority of people who drink responsibly against the need to protect local communities from nuisance and crime associated with misuse of alcohol. It is intended to provide a clear and consistent underpinning for the alcohol licensing regime in Scotland based upon the five licensing objectives:

  • preventing crime and disorder
  • securing public safety
  • preventing public nuisance
  • protecting and improving public health, and
  • protecting children and young persons from harm.

Further Acts that impact upon the licensing regime in Scotland include:

As well as this primary legislation, the licensing regime in Scotland is also affected by a range of secondary legislation.

Guidance for applicants and Licensing Boards

Applications for alcohol licences and more general queries about licensed premises should be made to your local Licensing Board, which can be found by consulting your local authority website

Scottish Government guidance regarding the alcohol licensing regime:

  • Minimum Unit Pricing - Guidance for retailers and businesses on the implementation of Minimum unit pricing for alcohol in Scotland is available on the website.

  • Disabled access and facilities statement for a premises licence: completion guidance – March 2018 – Guidance for applicants for an alcohol premises licence on completing the disabled access and facilities statement required by the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005.

  • Modification to the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 Guidance - June 2013 - modification to the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 guidance produced in order to assist Licensing Boards and clerks with the administration of the requirement for personal licence holders to evidence that they have undertaken refresher training.
  • Alcohol etc (Scotland) Act 2010 - This guidance was prepared and issued in order to assist with the implementation of the Alcohol etc. (Scotland) Act 2010 with focus on Pricing of alcohol, Drinks promotions, Age verification policy, Licensing policy statements, Chief Constables’ Reports.
  • Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 – April 2007 - This guidance has been prepared in accordance with section 142 of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005. This guidance was produced in 2007 to support the implementation of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005. This guidance is currently being reviewed.


Alcohol Byelaws

Public drinking can often be a nuisance to local communities and can greatly hamper the quality of life for residents in a particular area.

Local authorities have the power to make byelaws to ban drinking in designated public places under provisions contained in the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, subject to confirmation by the Scottish Ministers.

Circular LJ/02/2014 provides advice to local authorities applying to the Scottish Ministers for the confirmation of byelaws prohibiting the consumption of alcohol in designated public places.  It replaces the advice contained in circular JD/6/2007 and revises the advice in circular JD/08/2009.

If you are a member of the public and wish to know about alcohol byelaws that are in operation within your area or wish to suggest that an alcohol byelaw should be brought in, please contact your local authority.