A range of changes to NSW liquor laws to support nightlife and encourage a vibrant and safe 24-hour economy begin to rollout from 11 December 2020.
Initial changes will encourage live music and entertainment, arts and cultural events, support small bars and make licensee obligations clearer.
Most other changes start in 2021.
These liquor law changes aim to support and invigorate the 24-hour economy. They form a key part of the NSW Government’s response to the Joint Select Committee on Sydney’s night-time economy.
The reforms work in tandem with the Government’s 24-hour Economy Strategy, which supports a broader diversification of Greater Sydney’s 24-hour economy.
The following information highlights the key changes and when they start. You can read it all or click on the ones that interest you.
You can also contact Liquor & Gaming NSW if you would like more information about the changes.
Changes are being made to support removal of a range of historically imposed conditions that unnecessarily limit live music and entertainment on licensed premises – including conditions on liquor licences and development consents.
Outdated conditions on liquor licences no longer have effect - includes conditions that:
These types of outdated conditions were applied over many years. There are now more contemporary approaches to regulating live entertainment noise without placing unnecessary restrictions on live music and performance.
Licence documents will be updated to reflect that the above conditions no longer have effect from 11 December 2020. No action is required on behalf of licensees.
While the removal of these conditions supports more live music and entertainment at venues across NSW, licensees should be mindful of any potential amenity impacts of changing the way they run. If there are undue impacts on the neighbourhood, or a venue stops operating in line with its licence type, the local community can raise concerns with Liquor & Gaming NSW if the matter can’t be resolved directly with the venue.
See the live music and entertainment page for more information about this change.
If any of the above outdated conditions appear on a venue’s development consent, the venue must continue to comply with the consent conditions unless they are removed or varied by the relevant local council.
Venues can apply to councils to seek to have these types of conditions removed or varied.
As part of changes to planning laws, councils are also being given more powers to remove these types of conditions through a simpler and faster process. It is up to councils to decide whether they use this process.
If venues have other licence conditions that unnecessarily restrict live music, licensees can apply for free to have the conditions reviewed, allowing their current circumstances to be considered.
Licensees are eligible for free review of conditions that:
Review of these types of conditions involves public consultation, ensuring the local community can have a say before any changes are made.
The free review does not extend to conditions that have been imposed to place limits on noise levels – such as LA10 noise conditions.
More information about this change is available on the Liquor & Gaming NSW website.
New incentives are being rolled out to encourage and support venues to put on more live music performances and other arts and cultural events.
Other eligibility criteria apply. For example, venues that have poor compliance history will not receive the incentives.
Incentives for the listed venues include:
From 11 December 2020, eligible venues in the City of Sydney LGA can use the extra trading time as shown on the live music and entertainment page.
From 30 April 2021, councils will be given new powers to establish ‘special entertainment precincts’ where they can adopt their own plans to encourage more live music and performance. The 30-minute trading extensions referred to above will be made available to any listed venues located in an established precinct.
The Government plans to further examine and refine how these incentives are applied after the next fee payment cycle in 2021, to ensure they are effective in targeting the right venues and incentivising more live music, arts and cultural events.
This means there are likely to be some changes around which venues receive the incentives beyond that time.
More information is available on the Liquor & Gaming NSW website. A broader list of all venues across NSW that will be eligible for the fee reductions will be published early in 2021.
Small bars now have more options to offer more diverse and family-orientated services for customers, as part of measures to support small business and encourage use of the lower-risk small bar licence.
Small bars that regularly provide meals between their opening time and 10pm have the option to allow minors during these times, in the company of a responsible adult.
Small bars can do this if they are offering genuine meals at dining tables – they cannot only provide bar snacks.
This means minors will be able to dine in during the day and earlier hours of the evening with a parent or guardian, spouse or de facto partner, or an adult who is standing in as a parent.
If a small bar is eligible and decides to take up this option, they simply need to change their signage to reflect the times when minors are permitted in the venue with a responsible adult.
To download or order the signage, or for more information, please visit the Small Bars licensing webpage.
Small bars can also apply for a new authorisation to allow minors in a range of different circumstances and times up until midnight.
This will support small bars to diversify offerings beyond just bar services and provide services that are suitable for minors – for example:
Small bars that regularly provide meals can also apply for this authorisation if they want to allow minors past 10pm, or unaccompanied by a responsible adult.
Applicants for this new authorisation should show how their business model includes suitable offerings for all ages and how any risks to minors would be mitigated.
If granted the authorisation, appropriate signage must be displayed on the premises, including the times and circumstances where minors are permitted.
To apply for this authorisation, or for more information, please visit the Small Bars licensing webpage.
Small bars can now sell cocktails mixed on the licensed premises for consumption away from the premises on an ongoing basis, provided they are in sealed containers.
This means small bars can offer cocktails to be delivered off-site or taken to be enjoyed at home.
Small bars have been allowed to sell take-away house-made cocktails during the COVID-19 pandemic. Making this arrangement permanent supports small business and means there are more options for customers.
For more information, please visit the Small Bars licensing webpage.
Small bars can stay open and sell alcohol for consumption on the premises between noon and 10pm on restricted trading days, including Christmas Day and Good Friday.
This means they can serve customers during the day at the same time as a range of other premises such as hotels, restaurants and public entertainment venues.
Take-away house-made cocktails are not permitted on restricted trading days.
It is an offence under the Liquor Act 2007 for a licensee to permit intoxication on licensed premises. Certain defences are available where licensees prove they have taken steps to effectively deal with an intoxicated patron.
Changes to these defence provisions are being made to better clarify the steps to be taken for licensed vessels.
If a person is intoxicated on a licensed vessel, the licensee is taken to have permitted intoxication unless they can prove that:
Existing liquor laws allow the Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (the Authority) to approve a licensee to have minors in:
This allows the Authority to consider approving minors for purposes, or in circumstances, it considers appropriate – for example, so a licensee at a family-run hotel can employ a minor to serve meals and clear plates in the bar and dining areas.
Where this approval is given to a licensee, changes have been made to clarify that the minor does not commit an offence under the liquor laws if they enter or remain in these areas.
More information on the form AM0190 Approval for under 18s to access licensed premises application forms - AM0190 PDF, 806.87 KB. (updated form will be available Friday 11 December).
Changes have been made to better clarify that hotels, small bars, on-premises restaurants and public entertainment venues can book out their premises for private functions like weddings and birthday parties.
These businesses can choose to close their doors to the broader general public if they are fully booked out for these types of functions.
However, it continues to be the case that these businesses must typically not close to the general public for use as a ‘members-only’ premises, or for other exclusive use on a regular basis. Some limited exceptions apply under the liquor regulations.
Changes are being made to the Liquor Act to reflect trading hour arrangements for small bars and take-away liquor sales that have previously been in place under the liquor regulations.
These have no practical impact on existing venues, who will be able to trade as usual.
Licence documents are being reviewed to ensure they accurately reflect existing authorised trading hours for small bars and businesses selling take-away alcohol. No action is required on behalf of licensees.
Under the liquor regulations, existing businesses that were able to sell take-away liquor until 11pm on Sundays before 11 December 2020 are automatically approved with extended Sunday trading until that same time as part of transitional arrangements.
From 11 December 2020, new businesses will need to apply for an extended trading authorisation to sell take-away alcohol between 10pm and 11pm on Sundays. This reflects that the standard trading period for Sunday typically ends at 10pm for most venues.
These changes aim to make it easier for licensees to understand their trading hours.
Liquor & Gaming NSW will be able to use controlled purchasing operations as part of its compliance activities to investigate whether same day alcohol delivery providers, and their employees or agents, are breaching laws that aim to prevent alcohol from being sold or supplied to minors.
This means that minors can be appointed, under the supervision of an adult compliance inspector, to purchase or attempt to purchase alcohol that has been advertised for same day delivery without incurring liability under the Liquor Act 2007 or any other act or law.
If a minor’s purchase is successful, a provider, employee or agent can be liable for breaches of the law.
Ensuring that same day deliveries are not made to minors is essential to prevent harm to minors and make sure alcohol is being sold and supplied in line with community expectations.
Three existing sanctions schemes under the Liquor Act 2007 (Three Strikes, Violent Venues and Minors Sanctions) are being consolidated into one integrated system to incentivise well run venues, minimise violence and reduce serious liquor law breaches.
Under the new system, demerit points are incurred automatically for the most serious liquor law breaches such as permitting intoxication or violence. Selling or supplying alcohol to a minor attracts double demerits points, reflecting its seriousness and the Government’s continued emphasis on minimising the related risks of harm to minors.
Demerit points can also be imposed by the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (the Authority) in response to complaints by Liquor & Gaming NSW or NSW Police about recurring issues such as:
Demerit points attach to licensees and managers of licensed premises, except for registered clubs where the points attach to the licence. This is consistent with the approach under the former Three Strikes scheme.
Demerit points automatically expire after three years. However, applications can be made to the Authority for earlier removal in certain circumstances. The Authority may approve earlier removal if satisfied specified criteria are met, such as:
Well-managed venues are rewarded with discounts on annual liquor licence fees after maintaining a clear record with no demerit points, including:
Venues where demerit points have been incurred or imposed:
Each demerit point incurred or imposed will attract annual compliance risk loading, paid the year after the demerit point was incurred or imposed.
The venue may also need to pay patron capacity and location risk loadings, which continue to apply as usual where the compliance loading is payable.
Remedial action can also be imposed on any licensee or manager that incurs a demerit point, which can range from requirements for additional training through to permanent disqualification from holding a licensee or manager’s position.
More information about the new system is in the fact sheet Incentives and Demerit Point system - FS3015 PDF, 444 KB.
When the new system starts, all prior sanctions schemes will no longer have effect. However, any conditions imposed on a licence as a result of those schemes will remain and can only be removed on separate application to the Authority.
Strikes under the Three Strikes Scheme will no longer be in place.
Standard signage that must be displayed at licensed venues will be updated and made available on the Liquor & Gaming NSW website from 18 January 2020.
The updated signs have been developed in consultation with stakeholders and are aimed at making signage easier to read, helping customers better understand obligations when visiting licensed venues.
The new signs feature brand-new colour and designs to draw attention to the content. They meet Australian Standards in relation to colour and pictograms, are visually appealing and easy to understand.
There will be a six-month transition period to allow venues time to change over to the new signs. This means that the old signage can continue to be displayed until 17 July 2021 at the latest. From 18 July 2021, all venues must have the new signage displayed to ensure they comply with signage requirements.
Venues are strongly encouraged to change their signs early to avoid any complications.
Licensed venues will be able to:
The printable signage is available free of charge and can be downloaded from the Liquor & Gaming NSW website from 18 January 2021.
Detailed instructions on how to print and display the signage can be found on the Signs for your business web page.
Physical signage will still be available to order from the Liquor & Gaming NSW online shop.
All licensees that offer alcohol for sale through a website or using other electronic means, such as mobile applications, need to ensure a new notice is displayed. The existing notice that is required wherever alcohol is sold over the internet needs to be replaced with new wording from 18 January 2021.
All businesses selling liquor online have six months to replace the notice on their websites and mobile apps. This means the new wording must be in place by 18 July 2021.
The notice must be prominently displayed at all times while the site or electronic means is accessible, and in lettering big enough, and in a sufficient position, to ensure customers would reasonably be expected to be alerted to its contents.
Licensees must also ensure that their licence number is prominently displayed on the website or mobile app, and in any advertisement or information published in writing or electronically in connection with online sales.
Visit the Liquor & Gaming NSW website for more information from 18 January.
Australia Post’s digital product, Keypass in Digital iD™, can be accepted as a valid proof of age document by licensed premises across NSW. The Digital iD™ app offers people a digital version of the Keypass identification on their smartphone, so they don’t need to carry their plastic card.
Venue staff can check the ID in different ways:
* Sight: Match the patron’s face to the photo on their Keypass in Digital iD™ profile, check the 18+ Keypass badge to verify they are over 18 and view their verified date of birth.
* Scan: Scan the QR code using a phone or tablet with the Digital iD™ app, or a patron ID scanner that is configured to work with Digital iD™.
While scanning is the safest way to verify that it’s a genuine Keypass in Digital iD™, if that’s not possible venue staff can ask patrons to tap their photo on the screen to see the ID photo animate.
For more information about how to check a Keypass in Digital iD™ download this flyer from Australia Post PDF, 316.87 KB. Patron ID and registered club scanning providers that wish to configure their systems to scan the Digital iD™ can email Digital iD
The Digital iD™ app is available on the Apple App Store or Google Play.
The long-standing freeze on new liquor licences for hotels, registered clubs, nightclubs and packaged liquor outlets in these precincts is set to expire on 30 April 2021.
From 1 May 2021, it is planned the freeze will be replaced with a new evidence-based approach for managing the density of licensed premises in the precincts. There will no longer be a blanket ban on new licences.
The new approach is expected to open new business opportunities in suitable areas of the precincts, while continuing to manage higher risk locations.
New laws will enable a ‘Cumulative Impact Assessment’ to be issued, which will provide a more sophisticated way of managing areas of the precincts with higher concentrations of licensed premises, where cumulative impacts and risks of alcohol-related harm are greater.
Consultation on the draft Cumulative Impact Assessment for the precincts will happen early in 2021 with relevant stakeholders. This will provide an opportunity for the City of Sydney council, local businesses and residents, peak industry bodies, NSW Police and NSW Health to have their say.
More details about this process will be available in early 2021.
Eligible small bars with the necessary planning approvals can be issued with an interim approval to start trading as soon as they lodge their liquor licence application online.
This means small bars can get up and running much sooner.
This change expands the existing interim approval process for restaurants and cafes to this additional lower risk licence type.
Small bars are eligible when:
All small bars issued with an interim authorisation need to notify the NSW Police and the local consent authority at least two days before they start trading.
More information will be available before this change starts on our Small Bar licence webpage.
Any licensing application that seeks approval for a small bar to trade past 2am will now need to be accompanied by a Category B Community Impact Statement (CIS).
This allows for more comprehensive community consultation and ensures decision-makers can carefully consider any community impacts from trading this late into the night.
Small bars do not need a CIS for trading until 2am.
More information will be available before this change starts on the Small Bar licence webpage.
Councils will be able to take more of a leading role in managing complaints about noise from inside licensed premises in their local area, including entertainment sound.
If they have their own local plan for managing complaints, they can notify Liquor & Gaming NSW in writing that they want to handle complaints from local residents and businesses.
In this case, Liquor & Gaming NSW will no longer provide a separate avenue for these complaints. Councils and NSW Police will still be able to refer complaints to Liquor & Gaming NSW where appropriate (for example, if it relates to liquor licence conditions).
If councils take up this option, benefits for the community include:
More information about this change will be available in 2021.
Councils will have powers to establish ‘Special Entertainment Precincts’ as a result of changes to local government laws.
These are areas where councils can decide requirements for amplified music and adopt their own plans to encourage more live music and performance.
Requirements on amplified music that would normally apply under the Liquor Act 2007 will not apply in these areas, including any amplified music conditions on liquor licences.
Dedicated live music and performance venues in these areas will also be able to access 30-minute trading extensions.
Going forward, liquor licensing decision-makers will need to consider whether licence applications provide employment or other opportunities in the live music, arts, tourism, or community and/or cultural sectors.
While these factors are already considered when looking at the impacts of applications, they will now be a more explicit consideration when applications are determined and related community impacts are considered.
Businesses are encouraged to show what level of support they will provide for these sectors as part of their application.
The change recognises the integral role entertainment and arts plays in our community and will positively support musicians, live performers and other artists in these sectors.
There are new offences targeting delivery people who supply alcohol to minors or intoxicated people. These offences apply for any alcohol deliveries made within NSW, whether they are made on the same day or not.
Liquor must not be delivered to a minor
It will be an offence for a licensee, or any person delivering packaged liquor on behalf of a licensee or other business that has sold it by retail, to make the delivery to a minor. This includes deliveries coming from interstate.
Some limited defences to a prosecution for this offence will be available, including if:
Liquor must not be delivered to an intoxicated person
It will be an offence to deliver packaged liquor to an intoxicated person, where it has been sold by retail and is being delivered as part of a commercial arrangement. This includes deliveries coming from interstate.
A defence is available if the delivery person did not know the package contained liquor at the time of the alleged offence.
The NSW GL4003 Intoxication Guidelines PDF, 176.9 KB include detailed guidance on what to look for when someone is intoxicated. Responsible supply of alcohol training will also provide guidance on identifying intoxicated people and personal safety.
An enhanced regulatory framework for same day alcohol deliveries is being phased in to support the responsible operation of this emerging business model in NSW. This will be the first framework of this kind in Australia.
Improvements in technology and increasing consumer demand for fast and convenient online delivery services have seen the continued growth of online alcohol sales and same day delivery around Australia.
The enhanced framework addresses the heightened risk of minors or intoxicated people accessing same day alcohol, and lifts standards for same day delivery providers and delivery people so they are more comparable with physical bottle shop premises.
New laws capture the range of business models used to provide same day alcohol deliveries in NSW, as well as employees and agents who complete the deliveries. Importantly, the framework recognises that same day delivery providers have certain obligations in relation to the people they engage to deliver alcohol as part of their business.
Download the Same day alcohol delivery one-page overview PDF, 62.79 KB of all the key changes and who they apply to.
Industry is encouraged to continue to work to lift the responsible supply standards and implement systems to comply as soon as practical.
Same day delivery is the delivery of packaged alcohol, under a commercial arrangement, to a person in NSW on the same day it is purchased by retail (regardless of the state or territory in which the sale is made).
Some limited exceptions apply to deliveries that may fit this description, where the new same day delivery laws are not applicable. This includes:
Alcohol deliveries from take-away food delivery businesses are not considered to be food hampers.
Same day delivery providers include licensed businesses and any other business or person who as part of a business or undertaking:
Same day delivery providers need to have systems in place to support their employees and agents to check evidence of age and identity before delivery occurs. They must not allow deliveries to be made if there has been no check.
Licensees must ensure written instructions are provided for delivery people that include which adult has been specified to receive the delivery. Often, this will be the adult who placed the order or another adult at the same premises who agrees to accept it on their behalf. However, customers ordering online can also nominate an adult at a different location to receive the delivery (e.g. for a gift delivery).
To ensure they comply with new laws, delivery people must always check the specified recipient’s physical ID if they appear to be under 25-years-old. This is consistent with standards that apply to licensed premises.
For recipients who look older, either a physical ID must be checked or a signed declaration can be taken to confirm the recipient’s name and that they are over 18-years-old. If a signed declaration is taken in writing or electronically, it should be kept for an appropriate period of time, to ensure there is a record of this occurring.
Alcohol cannot be left unattended if being delivered on the same day.
Same day delivery providers need to keep records if deliveries are not made because:
These records must be kept for at least a year from the day of the non-delivery and be available for inspection by NSW Police and Compliance Inspectors.
Any people making same day deliveries will need to have completed responsible supply of alcohol training before 1 December 2021.
Standard training material approved by Liquor & Gaming NSW will be released by 1 July 2021.
The onus is on providers to ensure people they engage to undertake deliveries – including employees and agents – are all trained before they make a delivery from that time.
This will be the nation’s first mandatory training tailored to the delivery environment. It will provide guidance about:
From 1 July 2021, the training will be offered by Liquor & Gaming NSW online.
Same day delivery providers will also be able to offer the training themselves. This gives them the option to integrate the standard course material approved by Liquor & Gaming NSW with other relevant training about their own delivery systems and processes.
Alternately, they will be able to simply confirm that an employee or agent has completed the online training with Liquor & Gaming NSW or another provider.
All delivery people that complete the training will also need to undertake an online knowledge test that is approved by Liquor & Gaming NSW and register their successful completion.
More information about the training and these processes will be available in 2021.
Same day delivery providers must not financially penalise delivery employees and agents who:
A financial penalty includes any action that has a financial impact, such as withholding or delaying payment, or reducing employment hours.
Self-exclusion agreements allow a person to exclude themselves from alcohol delivery by entering into a formal agreement with a same day delivery provider. The types of agreements are a crucial part of harm minimisation.
Providers will need to enter into and comply with self-exclusion agreements, either temporarily or permanently, if any person requests it.
Providers will need to ensure that online sites and mobile applications where alcohol delivery is being advertised clearly provides a way for people to enter into these agreements.
Same day alcohol deliveries must not be made in NSW:
It will be an offence for a delivery person to complete a delivery during these cut off times.
Alcohol sold before 9am can be delivered that same day - but the delivery must not happen until 9am or later.
It will be an offence for a person to deliver liquor to public areas which are alcohol-free zones, alcohol prohibited areas or restricted alcohol areas.
Alcohol-free zones and alcohol prohibited areas are established by local councils. They represent areas where alcohol consumption is not permitted, and police have certain powers to confiscate alcohol. Examples include:
To ensure compliance, same day delivery providers should never ask delivery people to deliver alcohol into these zones or areas. Providers may choose to:
Restricted alcohol areas are declared areas of the state, specified in liquor regulations, where restrictions can apply to the sale, supply, possession or consumption of liquor on any premises. There are currently no declared restricted alcohol areas.
Same day delivery providers will need to record and report on data about their sales. The data will help inform future Government policy and future review of the same day delivery framework.
More information about this requirement will be available in 2021 after the Government has consulted with key stakeholders and developed regulations.
From 1 December 2021, all providers, employees and agents making same day deliveries will need to have been trained in the mandatory responsible supply of alcohol training before they make any deliveries.
Same day delivery providers can be held liable if any untrained delivery employees and agents breach the same day delivery laws. A defence is available to the provider if they can show that the employee or agent that breached the laws had completed the mandatory responsible supply of alcohol training before the breach occurred.
Same day delivery providers will need to implement mandatory online age verification at the initial point of sale for all first-time purchases.
Providers will need to:
Subsequent purchases require a form of authentication that will also be set out in the upcoming regulations.
Providers who fail to meet these requirements will be committing an offence.
The Government will work with industry to help introduce this useful harm reduction measure, including by developing supporting regulations.
More information about these requirements this will be available in 2021.
Visit the NSW Legislation website to read the new laws in full:
The Act follows the passage of the Liquor Amendment (Night-time Economy) Bill 2020.
An earlier version of the Bill - the ‘Liquor Amendment (24-hour Economy Bill) 2020’ - was available for industry and community consultation in May and June 2020.
Submissions from the consultation have been published on the Department of Customer Service website.