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3 September 2019

Making it easier for cafés, restaurants and small bars to do business

We’re helping café, restaurant and small bar owners start, run or grow their businesses – from sorting out their liquor licence, to knowing the steps they need to take to meet regulatory requirements across three levels of government.

Getting a restaurant up and running

Before a café, restaurant or small bar’s doors are even open, support is available through the NSW Government's one-stop-shop Business Concierge service, which provides help with things like registering a business, development consent and applying for a liquor licence. On average the program has helped small bars open up to 8 months faster, and cafés and restaurants up to 2 months faster.

The free and personalised service provides one point of contact to help navigate multiple agencies, regulations and forms. Learn more about the Business Concierge team and the program.

Fair liquor licence fees

Business owners can apply for a liquor licence for their café, restaurant or small bar and amend aspects of the licence online for faster application and approval times.

Our licence fee system helps keep costs in-check by linking annual liquor licence fees to the risk of alcohol-related harm a venue poses. Restaurants, cafés and small bars are generally considered low risk compared to venues like nightclubs, and the annual fees reflect this.

Restaurants, cafés and small bars pay $770# or less initially for their liquor licence, and then 97%* of these licensees only pay $435# or less annually. These low annual fees reflect that most restaurants, cafés and small bars don’t need to pay extra fee loadings for late trading or compliance history issues that many other types of venues do.

To further cut costs, if a restaurant, café or small bar applies for their liquor licence online they get a 10% discount. Licensees who may need to pay extra annual liquor licence loading fees can also speak to us about how to structure their liquor licence to reduce their fee.

If a business owner is running a BYO restaurant, they don’t need a liquor licence. However there are some standard approvals and guidelines they need to follow and information to help these business owners is available on our website.


Our tiered industry training framework ensures those working in restaurants, cafés and small bars complete the relevant training they need to sell, serve and supply alcohol safely and responsibly.

Training is available online or face-to-face, whichever suits a business and their staff.

Our newly announced Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) bridging course will also make it faster, easier and cheaper for interstate workers with an appropriate RSA competency to start work in NSW licensed premises.

Operating a business

Once a liquor licence application has been lodged online, our Interim Restaurant Authorisations means some restaurants can start serving alcohol right away.
More than 260 restaurants and cafes have taken this option up since 2017**.

Another initiative we support is the fast-tracked outdoor dining application offered by the Office of the NSW Small Business Commissioner and Service NSW.

Streamlined applications for outdoor dining are available in key sites, and we provide quick approval of new liquor service boundaries following council approval, so restaurants and cafés can start using their outdoor space sooner.

# Please note liquor licence applications and annual liquor license fees are adjusted annually in line with CPI.
* Based on the typical annual liquor licence fee these liquor licensees were liable to pay for 2018-2019.
** Based on statistics dated January 2017 – June 2019.

This is the first article in a series on making it easier for cafés, restaurants and small bars to do business – read more about growing your business.