Premises licence

A premises licence is required by anyone who intends to sell alcohol on their premises.

This licence relates only to selling alcohol and you might need a separate gambling licence for your premises.

If you are only operating for a short time, for example if you are catering for a wedding reception, you need an occasional licence. If you intend a permanent business, but your premises have not been built or are in the course of construction or conversion, you need a provisional licence

The Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 introduced a two-tier licensing system. Under the system, the premises selling alcohol require to be licensed and the persons working in licensed premises are required to have a personal licence. This note offers guidance on how to apply for licences for premises selling alcohol.

Premises licence is tailored to the individual premises by means of an operating plan, licensing objectives risk assessment and a layout plan.

'Premises' means any place and include a vehicle, vessel or moveable structure.


Some premises are excluded from holding a licence and some premises are exempt from holding a licence.

Excluded premises

Motorway service stations are prohibited from holding a premises licence. Premises used as a petrol station, or parts of premises used as a petrol station, are prohibited from holding a premises licence. Premises are used as a petrol station if they are used for:

  • The retail sale of petrol
  • The retail sale of diesel
  • The sale of motor vehicles
  • The maintenance of motor vehicles

However, if an applicant can demonstrate that persons resident in locality in which the premises are situated are, or are likely to become, reliant to a significant extent on the premises as the principal source of petrol/diesel or groceries (where the premises are, or are to be, used for the retail sale of groceries) then the Board can determine that the premises are not to be treated as excluded under the 2005 Act and the premises may then apply to the Board for a premises licence.

Exempt premises

Scottish Ministers may designate ports, hoverports and airports as exempt. No ports or hoverports are presently designated. The following airports are exempt:

  • Aberdeen Airport
  • Edinburgh Airport
  • Glasgow Airport
  • Glasgow Prestwick Airport
  • Inverness Airport
  • Sunburgh Airport

An Aircraft, hovercraft or railway vehicle is exempt while on a journey. A vessel engaged on an international journey or a journey forming part of a ferry service is exempt. Premises which are occupied for the purposes of the armed forces are exempt unless they are being used for other purposes.


Your licence will have the mandatory conditions (PDF 157KB) in Schedule 3 to the Act. These apply all over Scotland. In addition, Aberdeenshire Licensing Board have approved local conditions (PDF 332KB).

Licence fees

There are two fees you need to pay when applying for premises licence:

  • initial application fee
  • annual fee

The initial application fee is paid based on the rateable value of the premises (if your application is refused the fee is not refunded or reduced).  Unfortunately we are unable to accept payment by BACS, cheques or cash.

After the licence is granted, you must pay an annual fee before the 1st October every year (this is also related to your rateable value).

View our board fees (PDF 43KB).


You can pay premises licence fees by cheque made payable to Aberdeenshire Council, over the phone or by visiting the relevant service point.

Pay annual premises fee online

How to apply

You can apply for premises licence online, in paper or by phone.

View guidance on premises licence before you apply. These notes explain how to complete the application form and the policies and legislation surrounding this licence. We strongly recommend you obtain proper professional legal advice before applying.

Your application must also include the following documents:

You must also include the S50 Application Form (PDF 164KB) for planning, building standards and food hygiene.

Apply online

You can apply for new premises licence online on GOV.UK website however we may be required to request additional information due to the limitations of the online system. 

Apply on paper

To apply on paper complete Premises Licence Application Form (PDF 157KB)Please send your competed form by email to or by post to, please note physical mail is only checked once a week:

Aberdeenshire Council
Legal and People
Arduthie Road
AB39 2DQ

Apply by phone

If you are unable to complete the forms, please call us and we will assist you to apply over the telephone.

Application process

Your application will be considered at a scheduled Licensing Board meeting. View Aberdeenshire Licensing Board meeting dates.

We will consult with Police Scotland, the Health Board, the Community Council and council departments, and notify neighbours within four metres of the proposed premises. Your application will also be advertised for 21 days to allow members of the public to make any objections or representations.

It may take approximately six months to process your application.