The requirement to renew personal licenses will be abolished under the new Deregulation Bill, which is currently being considered by Parliament.
However, the government has confirmed the Bill is unlikely to receive Royal Assent before Spring 2015, leaving some confusion around the process for renewing licenses in the meantime.
The new guidance - issued by the Home Office in the form of factsheets– states that licensees with a personal licence expiring in early 2015 will have to renew by submitting a new application form to their local authority.
They will need to enclose their existing licence or a copy of their existing licence, depending on the rules set by their local authority. There will be no application fee or requirement for a photograph or CRB check.
The application will need to be submitted at least one month but no earlier than three months before it expires.
The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) welcomed the guidance, which should prevent licensees from falling foul of legislation before the Deregulation Bill comes into force.
“It is vital that we have a smooth process to ensure that licences due for renewal do not lapse before new legislation takes effect,” said BBPA Brigid Simmonds.
“I am grateful to the Home Office for finding a solution and I am sure local authorities will co-operate with the spirit and intention behind this until the Deregulation Bill becomes an Act of Parliament.”
However, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers criticised the government’s delay in issuing the ‘much-needed clarification’, and called for further reassurance for personal licence holders.
“We are pleased to see the Government has finally moved to address the uncertainty that licence holders have been facing but it is regrettable that this was not resolved much earlier,” said ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said:
“We have been vocal in our calls for the personal licence to be retained and the sector has been united in calling for the disregarding of renewal dates. We continue to believe that commitment from the Government confirming that renewal was not necessary until the Bill had passed would have been the simplest solution.
“What we need to see now is further clarification from the Home Office, particularly reassurance that licence holders will not be subjected to further bureaucracy. We are also concerned about the need to submit the original licence when renewing. Licence holders may face additional problems if they are forced to be without theirs for an extended period of time, particularly if they face a sudden, unexpected inspection.”