Alcohol Licence for a Cafe/Restaurant

The following is for general information purposes only. It details the general procedure in relation to applying for a Special Restaurant Licence, and a Wine Retailer's On Licence for a café/restaurant based in Ireland. All further questions regarding this information should be directed to the relevant authority,

Please note that as there are many different types of alcohol licenses, that due care should be taken when researching license types. Revenue, incorporating the National Excise Licence Office, should always be consulted for further information on this issue.

Further information on licences can be found on the Licences and Permits section.

Competent Authority

The National Excise Licence Office, of the Office of the Revenue Commissioners is the central administrative unit for all excise licences in Ireland.

It is the relevant authority for both:

  • Applications for a Special Restaurant Licence to serve alcohol in a café/restaurant.
  • Applications for a Wine Retailer’s On Licence to serve alcohol in a café/restaurant.


A Special Restaurant Licence

A Special Restaurant Licence entitles the Licensee to sell alcohol to be consumed on the licensed premises only and is granted by the District Court.

"Restaurant" means any premises which are structurally adapted and used for the purpose of supplying substantial meals to the public for consumption on the premises and in which any other business carried on is ancillary and subsidiary to the provision of such meals. (According to the S.I. No. 147/1988 — Special Restaurant Licence (Standards) Regulations, 1988.)

A Wine Retailer’s On Licence

A Wine Retailer’s On Licence allows the business named on the licence to sell Wine to be consumed on or off the premises. This Licence is confined to a person who owns a Refreshment House as per Section 6 of the Refreshment Houses (Ireland) Act of 1860.

How to make an application for a Special Restaurant Licence/Wine Retailers On 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:

• Application process for Special Restaurant and Wine Retailer’s On Licences,
• Information on fees and documentation to be submitted.

Special Restaurant Licence

Wine Retailer’s On Licence

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.


Contact details

Telephone: +353 1 702 3030, opening hours: 9:30am to 4pm Monday to Friday 


Full list of alcohol licenses can be found here: The National Excise Licence Office