alcohol in welcome packs

Alcohol in Welcome Packs: Is a licence required?

Last Updated on November 28, 2015 by admin

alcohol in welcome packsWith Christmas and New Year’s Eve edging ever closer, now may be the time of year that you consider providing some complimentary drinks for your guests as a gesture of seasonal goodwill.

On first impressions it sounds a relatively simple concept, but many holiday homeowners might not be aware of the law when it comes to providing alcohol in Welcome Packs by way of a `free’ bottle of wine or cask of local ale or cider. We’ve taken a look at current alcohol legislation and what you need to know in order to give your holiday letting guests a complimentary tipple, whilst ensuring you stay within the law.

Can I provide alcohol in welcome packs free of charge?

It may come as a surprise that the answer is actually no, unless you have the correct licences in place.

In the eyes of the law, the provision of any alcohol is not seen as being ‘free’.  This is because it’s felt that the rental a guest pays you for their stay includes the costs of the amenities they consume within your holiday home; for example the toiletries, complimentary food on arrival, and of course, any alcohol.

Your free tipple is seen as strictly part of the cost of rental, rather than free of charge.

This means that like any other alcohol provider, in order to supply alcohol in your welcome pack you would currently need to have both a premises licence and at least one member of staff that holds a personal licence.

Where do you currently stand?

If you’re looking at providing alcohol you’ll need to be aware of the Licensing Act 2003, which regulates all organisations that provide and supply alcohol, which includes your holiday home business.

Step one – Premises Licence

Under the Act there are a number of conditions that need to be met; the first of these is that you must have a Premises Licence, which would permit your holiday home to supply alcohol in welcome packs. You can apply for a licence through your local council and, once granted, your ‘licence summary’ needs to be displayed clearly at the holiday home.

Step two – Personal Licence Holder

After you have a Premises Licence the next step is to become a personal licence holder. This allows you to provide alcohol on behalf of your holiday home and works in a similar way as a driving licence, which allows you to drive any car. You can apply for a personal licence through the Government website:

Are there changes on the way?

In a bid to make the process easier for businesses, including holiday homeowners, the Government is reducing the red tape that surrounds the Licensing Act.

Whilst we’re still awaiting confirmation on the details of this new legislation it is said to include a Personal Licence becoming valid for life (currently only ten years) and the licence holder no longer needing to be present when the alcohol is served (particularly important for holiday homeowners).

The biggest potential change for holiday homeowners could be the introduction of a new type of notice, known as CANS (Community and Ancillary Sales Notice) which will allow you to provide small amounts of alcohol in holiday home welcome packs for a minimal fee.

This type of licence would be valid for three years and save you having to apply for a premises licence, which can cost up to £1,900! It may also reduce the need for a personal licence, an extra £75.

CANS were due to be introduced by the end of this year, check out the Government website for further updates and how you can apply if it comes into effect. We’ll also let you know through our blog as soon as changes come into force.

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to holiday letting owners across the UK. For more information on how a specialist insurer can help and support your holiday home business, please give us a call on 01237 429444.

9 replies
  1. Jacqueline SIndle
    Jacqueline SIndle says:

    If i wish to leave a bottle of wine, would it be OK to leave a tag with it saying something along the lines of “… hope you enjoy this complimentary bottle of wine …” or would I still need to apply for a licence? If I left food, would I need to apply for a licence in order to “sell” the food within the hire charge? Thank you for your help.

  2. michael muston
    michael muston says:

    If the policy holder provides a welcome pack containing alcohol but doesn’t have the licences in place under the current legislation does this vitiate the policy/ give your insurer grounds to contest any claim ?

    • Mark Lavington
      Mark Lavington says:

      You are right, there is a possibility that an insurer could avoid the policy and not pay a claim, or pay the claim and pursue the policyholder for recovery. Although this is only likely to happen for a claim which is directly in connection with the provision of alcohol to the holiday home guests if the owner was not licensed to supply alcohol and therefore in breach of legislation.

  3. Lance Davenport
    Lance Davenport says:

    We like to see what the guests are like first; who stay in our self catering cottage . Then we sometimes give them a gift of wine or food when we see them. This is after they have arrived and settled in. What is the situation then?

    • Mark Lavington
      Mark Lavington says:

      Whether a complimentary bottle of wine is given on arrival or during the stay makes no difference as we understand it. The fact that you have charged the guest for the holiday means that they have paid a “consideration” towards the alcohol you have supplied. Our understanding of the current legislation on the provision of free or complimentary alcohol is in line with the guidance in Visit England’s The Pink Booklet – Does the legislation apply to me?

  4. Patricia Honiton
    Patricia Honiton says:

    Thank you for raising this, I’ve read the Pink Book too and frankly I think there are bigger and more important issues to worry about. Has anyone ever actually been prosecuted for this? As a cottage owner myself, my advice would be to concentrate on making everything safe, clean and welcoming rather than wasting time and money on licensing yourself to sell alcohol (the words ‘sledge hammer’ and ‘walnut’ come to mind) ? Just sayin’…….


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