Get the right licences for your tourist accommodation business
Before you open your door to guests, you need to make sure you have all the necessary licenses in place to run your business legally.
For example, if you plan to serve alcohol on your premises, you will need to have an up-to-date liquor licence. If you have installed televisions or play music on your premises, you will need licences for that too.
This guide will help you understand which licences you need for your tourist accommodation business, and how to apply for them.
You should read this guide alongside legal requirements for tourism businesses.
Alcohol licensing for tourism businesses
The types of tourism businesses that can apply for a licence to sell alcohol, those that cannot, and the criteria and the process of how to apply
You will need a licence from your local county court to sell alcohol on your premises.
You will only be able to apply to the court for a liquor licence for certain premises, including:
- premises where alcohol will be sold and consumed eg pubs
- premises where alcohol is sold for drinking off the premises
- guest houses
- conference centres certified by the Tourism NI
- other venues that include indoor arenas, higher education institutions, public entertainment premises, public transport premises and seamen's canteens
You can't apply for a licence if your premises are situated on a service area, or are on the same premises as a garage or petrol station.
Hotels, guest houses and conference centres
If you run a hotel, guest house or a conference centre, you must apply to the courts for a liquor licence and show that:
- you are fit to hold a licence
- the premises are suitable for the sale of alcohol
Conference centres must meet certain requirements to get a licensing letter from Tourism NI.
TV licence fees for hotels, hostels and campsites
The type of television licence you will need if you have TVs at your tourist accommodation premises hotel, hostel or campsite, the costs of the licence and the exceptions
If you're providing TVs on your premises for overnight guests, you should apply for a Hotel and Mobile Units Television Licence.
While staying on your property, guests are not covered by their home licence. Long-term hotel guests (ie those staying over 28 days) are an exception. They are not covered by a hotel licence and must have their own ordinary television licence.
Your licence fee will depend on the number of accommodation or mobile units you offer:
- up to 15 units - £157.50
- more than 15 units - there is an additional fee for every five extra units (or fewer)
Showing TV and film in public areas
If you show TV programmes or films (live broadcast or via DVD or online streaming) in public areas such as bars, shops, restuarants, lounges or lobbies, you will require a licence.
There are a number of main organisations who issue these licenses, including the Motion Picture Licensing Company.
Music licences for tourism businesses
The type of licences you must have to play recorded or live music in your business, including background music, the radio or live bands, and the exemptions
If you play music in your business, you are required by law to have a music licence.
Previously, businesses had to obtain separate music licences from PPL and PRS for Music. However, they have joined forces to form PPL PRS Ltd and have launched TheMusicLicence.
TheMusicLicence allows you to legally play music for employees or customers in your business through the radio, TV, other digital devices and live performances.
If you play or perform music in your business or organisation, you will usually need TheMusicLicence.
Read more about TheMusicLicence.