Licensed premises in Northern Ireland can apply for later opening hours from October

The first phase in a number of reforms to alcohol licensing becomes law on 1 October 2021. The key changes are:

  • pubs and hotels can apply to open until 2am up to 104 nights per year
  • smaller pubs will be able to open to 1am up to 104 nights per year
  • drinking-up time will be increased to 1 hour
  • all additional restrictions on opening hours over Easter weekend will be removed
  • removal of restrictions on late opening on Sunday
  • licensed race tracks will be allowed to sell alcohol on Sundays
  • registered clubs will be able to open to 1am up to 104 nights per year

Phased changes
A number of other changes are expected to come into effect around April 2022. These include:

  • New licence categories: businesses such as craft breweries, distilleries and cideries will be able to apply for a licence to sell alcohol on their premises. There will also be a category for cinemas.
  • Children’s certificates: There will be changes to the rules on Children’s certificates, meaning that under-18s events could take place at licensed premises.
  • Surrender principle: Rules preventing new licences being granted until an existing licence has been surrendered will be reviewed within one year.