Alcohol Licence for a Cafe/Restaurant
There are many different types of alcohol licenses available in Ireland. Due care should be taken when researching license types. The National Excise Licence Office, should always be consulted for further information on this issue.
The National Excise Licence Office (NELO) as part of Revenue is the competent authority in Ireland that deals with alcohol licensing.
There are two popular types of alcohol licensing that are common to cafes/restaurants.
Special Restaurant Licence
The holder of a Special Restaurant Licence is entitled to sell all types of alcohol for consumption in their restaurant. They may not have a bar on the premises and other non-alcoholic beverages, including drinking water, must be available.
A Wine Retailer’s On Licence
A Wine Retailer’s On Licence holder may sell wine, sherry and fermented liquor containing less than 23% vol. The licence is confined to premises deemed a 'Refreshment House'.
The current liquor licensing laws are premises based and do not make provision for the licensing of road vehicles for the sale of alcohol. While there are provisions for the sale of alcohol at festivals and fairs using 'Occasional Licences', these are available only to existing holders of certain excise licences i.e. Publicans. These licences are issued by the Courts.
Alcohol served at a wedding, or similar private function, may be purchased by the customer (Bride/Groom) from a licensed wholesale dealer and served to their guests free. In the scenario, you cannot sell directly to guests, you could potentially operate as outlined with a wholesale dealer licence.
To obtain a Wholesale Dealer Licence, an application must be made to the District Court for a court certificate to present to Revenue in support of a licence. For more information on the requirements to obtain wholesale licences please see Revenue's Wholesale Dealers Licence overview page.
How to apply for a licence
If you operate a Café/Restaurant based in Ireland, and you intend to make an application for a Special Restaurant Licence or a Wine Retailer’s On Licence, detailed information on the following can be found on the websites linked below:
Completing procedures online
Once you have received your Application Notice from the National Excise Licence Office you can apply for your Licence online using the method outlined below:
Revenue On-Line Services (ROS): You can apply for your Excise Licence online once you have registered as a ROS customer.
For details visit the Revenue website at or phone ROS Helpline: 1890 201 106
Response time frame by the National Excise Licence Office
When the completed application and the required forms are received in the National Excise Licence Office, your local Superintendent of An Garda Siocháná and District Court Office will be advised of your application.
A statutory period of 30 days must then elapse and if no objection to the issue of the Licence is received, a First Time Application Notice will be issued to you.
Relevant legislation applicable
The requirements for a café/restaurant applying for either a Special Restaurant Licence or a Wine Retailers On Licence, are set out in the following Irish legislation.
Special Restaurant Licence : S.I. No. 147/1988 — Special Restaurant Licence (Standards) Regulations, 1988.
Wine Retailers On Licence : Refreshment House Act 1860
Tel: +353 1 738 3640
Full list of alcohol licenses can be found under the excise licencing section here: The National Excise Licence Office
The above is for general information purposes only. All further questions regarding this information should be directed to the relevant authority, Revenue.ie.