All premises licences will stipulate whether the venues is allowed to admit children (any person under the age of 16). 

The Licensing Act 2003 will specify whether children’s access to a licensed venue is prohibited, restricted or permitted.  But what are the rules for your licensed venue? 


  • It is an offence to permit an unaccompanied child to enter your licensed premises if your venue is used exclusively or primarily for the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises. [Prohibited]
  • It is also an offence for a to allow an unaccompanied child in your venue between midnight and 5am if alcohol is being sold or supplied. [Restricted]
  • Under any other circumstances, children are allowed in licensed venues. [Permitted]

To be “accompanied” the child must be with someone aged over 18. 

Employing Children

The Licensing Act 2003 makes provision for the lawful employment of children (under 16s) under certain circumstances: 

  1. Each and every sale of alcohol must be authorised by someone who is over 18; and
  2. The person over 18 must themselves be authorised to do so (i.e. licence holder, DPS or anyone else sub-delegated authority by the licence holder or DPS)

The only exception is alcohol served as part of a sit-down table meal in which case the child can sell or supply the alcohol. 

Consumption by Children

It is also the case that a child (16 or 17) can consume beer, wine or cider with a sit-down table meal if the alcohol is purchased by someone over the age of 18.

Stephen McCaffrey

Regulatory defence barrister specialising in alcohol and entertainment licensing law, appeals and defence.

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