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Effective date: 22 January 2008
Last amended: 3 October 2018
Next review: March 2021


This policy is designed to provide information in regard to the subject matter covered, and with the understanding that the Director of Liquor Licensing is not passing legal opinion or interpretation or other professional advice. The information is provided on the understanding that all persons undertake responsibility for assessing the relevance and accuracy of its contents.


Section 41A of the Liquor Control Act 1988 (“the Act”) provides for the grant of a small bar licence.

This publication provides guidance as to the intent of small bar licences and the legislative requirements associated with them.  It also provides guidance as to other matters that the licensing authority may have regard to when considering applications for small bar licences.

Legislative Provisions

To support the intended purpose, the Act provides that a small bar licence is subject to conditions:

  1. prohibiting the sale of packaged liquor; and
  2. limiting the number of persons (excluding responsible persons and authorised officers) who may be on the licensed premises to a maximum of 120 persons at any one time**

 ** A lesser accommodation number may be imposed, subject to any condition that may be set by the local government authority on planning approvals.

Further, in keeping with the philosophy of promoting more vibrant, lower risk, wine bar/bistro style drinking environments, and consistent with the primary objects of the Act relating to harm minimisation and the proper development of the liquor, tourism and other hospitality industries in the State, conditions may also be imposed on the licence relating to the:

  • provision of food at the premises;
  • layout of premises with respect to tables, chairs and couches etc;
  • nature of entertainment that may be provided on the premises;
  • security and crowd control;
  • lock-outs after a certain time; and
  • advertising and liquor promotions.

The permitted hours under section 98AA of the Act for a small bar licence are:

  1. on a day other than a Sunday - from 6 am to 12 midnight;
  2. on a Sunday- from 10 am to 12 midnight.;
  3. on New Year’s Day from immediately after 12 midnight on New Year’s Eve to 2 am and then in accordance with (a) or (b);
  4. on Good Friday or Christmas Day from 12 noon to 10 pm, but only for liquor sold ancillary to a meal supplied by the licensee;
  5. on ANZAC Day  from 12 noon to 12 midnight.

Other legislative obligations

Approved manager

Section 100(2a) of the Act requires that an approved manager must be present at the licensed premises at any time when business is conducted at those premises.  In this regard, a licensee may chose to employ a number of approved managers.

For further information on the requirements relating to approved managers, please refer to the Director’s policy Managers at Licensed Premises.

Mandatory Training

Mandatory training

The Act imposes mandatory training requirements on licensees, approved managers, supervisory/bar staff and crowd controllers1 in relation to the management of licensed premises and the responsible service of alcohol. There is also a requirement for licensees to maintain a training register that records employee information and their training compliance.

For further information on the mandatory training requirements and the register, please refer to the Director’s policy Mandatory Training

Drinking water

Water suitable for drinking must be provided free of charge at all times when liquor is sold for consumption on the premises.

For guidance on the minimum requirements in respect of this condition, please refer to the Director’s policy Provision of Free Drinking Water

Incident register

The licensee is required to maintain a register of the incidents, of the prescribed kind, that take place at the licensed premises.

For guidance on the minimum requirements in respect of this register, please refer to the Director’s policy Incident Registers

Lodging an application

Applicants for a small bar licence must lodge with the Department certain statutory information prior to an application being considered. 

To assist applicants in lodging their application, an application kit containing a lodgement guide, forms, and an information bulletin, is available from the Department’s website.  

Further, customer services staff are available at any time during office hours to assist applicants understand the legislative requirements relating to the lodgement of an application. Telephone 61 08 6551 4888.


  1. This requirement applies to crowd controllers from 1 July 2018.


Page reviewed 11 September 2023