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Minor business exemption

From 14 May 2014, minor businesses exempt from holding a liquor licence are no longer required to notify the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) of their intention to supply liquor.

Which businesses are exempt from the requirement to hold a liquor licence?

Businesses where the supply of liquor is only a small part of the products and services on offer are exempt from the requirement to hold a liquor licence. This may includes businesses such as bed and breakfasts, hairdressers, florists, gift makers, butchers, hospitals, residential care services, retirement villages and cruise ships.

To be exempt from holding a liquor licence you need to fulfil all the conditions for your business type on an ongoing basis. 

 To find out the specific criteria for these businesses, see Specific requirements by business type.

What happens if I fail to meet the criteria of being an exempt business but I continue to supply liquor?
Businesses that no longer meet the criteria, but continue to operate as though they are exempt, will be considered to be operating without a liquor licence. This is a very serious offence carrying a jail term of up to two years or a fine exceeding $35,000.
What should I do if my business no longer meets the exemption criteria?

If your business no longer meets the criteria for exemption - for example, after expansion your bed and breakfast business now provides accommodation for more than eight adults - you should apply for an appropriate liquor licence. 

To identify which liquor licence suits your business, visit select the right liquor licence.

Specific requirements by business type

To be exempt from holding a liquor licence you need to fulfil all the conditions for your business type on an ongoing basis. If you do not meet the requirements, you will no longer be exempt. This means you will effectively be supplying liquor without a licence, which is a serious offence and attracts a maximum fine of more than $35,000 or two years imprisonment.

Bed and breakfast

To be eligible, the following conditions apply:

  • the bed and breakfast business must not provide temporary accommodation or dormitory accommodation for more than eight adults in the course of that business
  • must not supply more than 750ml of liquor in any one room per day
  • liquor is not supplied to a minor
  • the proprietor no longer needs to be a permanent resident under this exemption
  • the proprietor no longer needs to complete an approved Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) training program.
Florists and gift services

For the purposes of the exemption, a florist or gift maker business is one where the primary purpose is to sell flowers, food or other products that are packaged as, or intended to be, gifts.

To be eligible, the following conditions apply:

  • liquor must be packaged together with flowers, food or other gifts
  • the volume of liquor supplied to a person must not exceed 1.5 litres per day
  • the value of the liquor and its container must not be more than 50 per cent of the gift’s sale price
  • liquor supplied needs to be purchased by the proprietor on a retail basis
  • both the purchaser and recipient of the flowers or gift must be 18 years or over.
Hairdressers

For the purpose of the exemption, a hairdresser can be a business that provides hairdressing or barber services.

To be eligible, the following conditions apply: 

  • any liquor supplied must be complimentary (no cost) and ancillary to the provision of hairdressing services
  • any liquor supplied must be consumed on the premises by a customer
  • liquor must not be supplied to a minor.
Butchers

For the purpose of the exemption, a butcher must have as its primary function the retail sale of raw meat or fish for human consumption, but does not include where meat is sold for consumption on the premises.

To be eligible, the following conditions apply: 

  • liquor must be packaged in sealed containers and supplied for off-premises consumption
  • liquor supplied has to be wine from a single, specific wine region or any type of beer
  • liquor must not be supplied to a minor
  • the volume of liquor supplied to a person must not exceed 1.5 litres per day.


If you do not meet the above requirements, you will be required to hold a liquor licence. To find out more, read more at Apply for a liquor licence.

Businesses no longer required to hold a liquor licence

Effective 14 May 2014, some business types in limited circumstances no longer need to hold a licence to supply liquor when it is ancillary to the business.

To be eligible for the minor business exemption, certain conditions apply. Please see below to determine the business type that relates to you. 
 

Cruise ships
A cruise ship is now exempt from the requirement to hold a liquor licence for the supply of liquor, if:
  • the ship has sleeping facilities for at least 100 passengers, other than crew members
  • the ship is used to transport passengers for a fee, whether within or outside state waters or in the course of overseas or interstate journeys
  • liquor is only supplied to the registered passengers or crew members of the cruise ship
  • liquor is only supplied for consumption on board the cruise ship
Hospital, residential care services and retirement villages

Hospital, residential care services and retirement villages are now exempt from the requirement to hold a licence to supply liquor, providing that the recipient is a resident, or patient of the hospital or a visitor of a resident or patient. 

There are certain stipulations that these businesses must adhere to under the exemption which are:

  • the liquor is not supplied to minors
  • no more than two standard drinks a per day are supplied to each recipient
  • the liquor is purchased on a retail basis


Please note the following definitions:

As defined in the Health Services Act 1998:

  • A hospital refers to a denominational hospital, a designated public hospital, a metropolitan hospital, a private hospital, a privately operated hospital or a public hospital
  • Residential care service means premises where accommodation and personal or nursing care, or both personal and nursing care are provided to a person in respect of whom a residential care subsidy or flexible care subsidy is payable under an Act of the Commonwealth


As defined in the Retirement Villages Act 1986:

  • A retirement village means a community where:
    • the majority of which is retired persons who are provided with accommodation and services other than services that are provided in a residential care facility
    • at least one person, before or on becoming a member of the community, pays or is required to pay an in-going contribution


If you do not meet the above requirements, or you wish to sell or offer liquor for sale, you are required to hold a liquor licence.  To find out more, read Apply for a liquor licence.

What happens with my existing licence?

Existing licences are still valid and businesses can still trade in accordance with the conditions on that licence.

However, licensees may choose to surrender their existing liquor licence and operate without a licence, if they meet the requirements outlined above.

Complete the Surrender a liquor licence or permit application form and lodge with the VCGLR.

If your situation changes or you are unsure whether you qualify for an exemption, contact the VCGLR on 1300 182 457 or email contact@vcglr.vic.gov.au.