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Do I Need a Licence or Qualifications to Run a Pub?

By Stephanie Lowndes on September 4th, 2023

If you’re considering owning and running a pub in the UK, you may be wondering if you need any specific licences or qualifications to do so. It can be difficult to know where to start – particularly if you have no prior experience in the industry, 

In this article, we explore the necessary licences and qualifications required to run a pub in the UK. Whether you’re a first-time pub owner or an experienced entrepreneur, this information will be essential in helping you to make informed decisions about running a pub.

What Licenses Do I Need to Run a Pub?

Operating a pub in the UK requires several licences, and failure to obtain them can result in legal and financial penalties. The specific licences vary depending on the nature of the business and the services offered, but the following are the primary ones:

Personal Licence

A personal licence is required if you sell alcohol, as well as if you supervise the selling or supplying of alcohol on the premises. To obtain a personal licence, you must complete a training course to obtain an accredited qualification such as the Award for Personal Licence Holders (APLH). 

Premises Licence

A premises licence is required for any premises where alcohol is sold or supplied, including pubs. This licence is obtained from the local council and involves an application process, which often requires specific conditions to be met. The licensing objectives set by the council may include preventing public nuisance and promoting public safety.

Public Entertainment Licence

If your pub is planning to host events such as live music, comedy shows, or sports screenings, a public entertainment licence is required. The type of licence needed will depend on the nature of the event and the number of people attending.

Qualifications for Pub Ownership

While a licence is necessary to operate a pub, certain qualifications and skills can greatly improve your chances of success. It’s important to note that there are no official qualifications required to run a pub, but possessing relevant experience and knowledge can be advantageous.

Business Management

A good understanding of business management principles is essential for running a successful pub. This includes knowledge of financial management, business planning, and marketing strategies. A course or degree in business management can equip you with these skills.


Hospitality is an industry that requires attention to detail, excellent communication skills and the ability to work well under pressure. In addition, knowledge of wine and spirits, food preparation, and customer service are important. 

Hospitality-related courses or qualifications in bartending, cooking, or food service can provide this knowledge.

Running a Pub: Essential Skills and Responsibilities

The skills and responsibilities required to manage a pub successfully include: 

Stock Control

One of the essential responsibilities of managing a pub is to ensure that the stock is maintained accordingly, and orders are placed on time. Keeping track of inventory levels, monitoring stock wastage, and ordering stock effectively can help minimise costs, and keep customers satisfied.

It is also important to ensure that the pub’s stock is stored correctly, complying with health and safety regulations.

Staff Management

Managing the team is another critical aspect of running a pub. You’ll need to schedule shifts, train and motivate your staff, and handle conflicts that may arise. Effective staff management can help reduce staff turnover, create a positive work environment, and enhance the customer experience. 

It is also important to ensure that your staff complies with legal and safety procedures when serving alcohol.

Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is the key to the success of any pub. As a pub manager, it is crucial to create a welcoming and friendly environment for your customers, ensure that the quality of the drinks, food and service are of a consistently high standard, and handle customer complaints professionally. 

Legal Obligations and Regulations

Complying with legal obligations and regulations is crucial to ensure the successful running of your pub. You’ll need to ensure that you have the right licences and certificates in place, comply with health and safety regulations, and follow employment and tax laws. 

Failing to meet legal obligations can result in hefty fines, legal disputes, or even closure of the business.

By mastering these key skills and responsibilities, you can effectively manage a pub, maintain high standards, and ensure its long-term success.


Obtaining the necessary licences and qualifications is crucial for legally operating a pub, but having the right skills and experience can greatly enhance your chances of success. 

By understanding the legal responsibilities, providing great customer service and taking the time to communicate with staff, you can ensure that your pub runs smoothly and successfully. 

Get Pub Insurance Today

Here at Brisco, our pub insurance is designed to provide comprehensive coverage for all the needs of pub owners. This includes protecting against property damage, liability claims, loss of income, and other risks associated with operating a pub. 

With our business insurance, pub owners can have peace of mind knowing that their businesses are covered against any unexpected events. To learn more about our full coverage options, get a quote today.

Stephanie Lowndes

Stephanie is a digital marketing masters graduate with extensive customer service experience gained in the retail and hospitality sectors. Stephanie is currently a marketing executive at Brisco Business.

All articles by Stephanie Lowndes

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