Occasional licence

There are two possible uses of Occasional Licences ('OLs'):

  • 'occasions' (such as parties and other social functions, often one-off and lasting only a few hours),
  • a business activity such as:
    • an 'Outdoor Drinking Area' ('ODA')
    • selling by mail-order or internet

I want an OL for an 'occasion'

You will need our Occasional Licence Application Form (Word, 104kb)

You do not need to complete the whole form - the "Application Schedule" at the end does not apply to you.

Send it by email. The fee is £10.

I want an OL for a business activity

You can only do this if you:

  • already have OLs for the business activity, and
  • also apply for either a Premises Licence or a Major Variation

If these do not both apply, see our I don't already have an OL for a business activity section.

If both these things apply you can continue to apply for OLs to cover the business activity.

OLs will only be granted for periods ending the day before the Board meeting which considers the Premises Licence or Major Variation application, and the last such OL will be date-limited (so the Licence will not last for 14 days, but will be for a shorter period ending the day before the meeting).

For example, a public house or restaurant will have a Premises Licence covering the inside of the building, and if there has been an ODA during the Coronavirus Emergency, the licence-holders will have to apply for a Major Variation to continue the ODA.

Read our I want an OL for an 'occasion' section for advice about how to apply and pay the Licence fee. The only difference is that you DO have to complete the 'Application Schedule' at the end. You do not have to show us the documents you showed us when you applied for your first OL (such as the 'Layout Plan').

You can only apply if the business activity is already covered by OLs. Also:

  • if you don't have a Premises Licence, you'll need to apply for one;
  • if you do have a Premises Licence, but it doesn't cover the business activity, you'll need to apply for a Major Variation.

See elsewhere on this website for more information, or contact us on licensing@north-ayrshire.gov.uk

I don't already have an OL for a business activity

Operators who propose an unlicensed business activity should apply to the Board for:

  • a Premises Licence or
  • a Major Variation (if there already is a Premises Licence but it does not cover the business activity).

Please note: No new OLs will be granted for ODAs or businesses when the ODAs or businesses are not already operating on OLs.

See The Board's Policy on Occasional Licences section for information on the actions that the Licensing Board have taken. 

What if I apply for a 'business activity' OL without also applying for a Premises Licence or a Major Variation?

You risk becoming unlicensed and having to stop operating:

  • we will still process your OL Application, but
  • we will not grant the new OL until you lodge your application for a Premises Licence or a Major Variation with all necessary documents (for example, you will always need an "Operating Plan" and most Premises Licence Applications need a "Layout Plan" and Certificates)

Since your current OL lasts a maximum of 14 days, and cannot be extended, this means that you have little time to lodge the other Application and documents before your business activity becomes unlicensed. If that happens, you will have to stop operating until the Board decide to grant your Premises Licence or a Major Variation.

The Board's Policy on Occasional Licences

1. Before the Coronavirus Emergency the Licensing Board's Policy was that:

  • Occasional Licences ('OLs') were limited to 'occasions' (such as parties and other social functions, often one-off and lasting only a few hours), and
  • no business activity could be carried out on the strength of a sequence of OLs.

This was stated in "Licensing Policy Statement 2018-22", Paragraph 8.6, and was in effect: 'no business use of Occasional Licences'. If people wanted business activities, they had to apply to the Board for either a new Premises Licence or a Major Variation of an existing Premises Licence.

2. During the Coronavirus Emergency the Board temporarily relaxed that Policy in order to assist business:

  • for a time North Ayrshire Licensing Board were not meeting at all, and
  • during the Coronavirus Emergency there have been restrictions on on-sales, either closing them altogether or restricting their capacity.

The fact that North Ayrshire Licensing Board were not meeting meant that no new Premises Licences or Major Variations could be granted. Although many licensing functions can be carried out by the Clerk or other Board officers without the case needing to be considered by a meeting of the Board themselves - this is called 'Delegated Powers' - decisions about these two things are reserved to the Board by Law.

On Wednesday 24 June 2020 the First Minister announced that ODAs could open on 6 July 2020, but at the time the Board were not meeting at all, so had the Board insisted on their normal Policy it would have meant that no new ODAs could be licensed.

3. So North Ayrshire Licensing Board decided to allow the temporary use of OLs (which are covered by 'Delegated Powers'. It was always made clear that this was only a temporary relaxation. The Policy relaxation permitted operators to seek a sequence of OLs for business activities.

4. The need for the relaxation of the Policy no longer exists. The Board have been meeting 'virtually' for many months and have been able to hold hearings on Premises Licences and Major Variations much as they could have done before the Coronavirus Emergency. The Coronavirus restrictions on businesses have reduced since the Policy was relaxed. Since 19 July 2021 on-sales have been able to operate till midnight.

5. Therefore the Board have decided to re-apply the original Policy, but to make allowances for existing businesses using OLs.

Contact Licensing




01294 324305

Please note: this telephone line is not currently in use however, Licensing staff are able to phone customers who request a call. Requests can be made either via the Contact Centre (01294 310000) or by emailing the Licensing email address detailed above.


Licensing Section, Legal Services, North Ayrshire Council, Cunninghame House, Irvine, KA12 8EE