Alcohol and Licensing

Nightclubs and Dancing

Nightclubs and Dancing

The first thing to note about setting up a nightclub in Ireland is that there is no specific nightclub licence that can be applied for. Nightclubs are seen in Irish licensing law as a late night extension to a bar or hotel licence. Legally to be able to set up a night club a premises must already hold a pub licence (seven day ordinary on-licence) or a hotel licence. As you see from our other information pages, it is not possible to create a new pub licence. The options therefore for anyone looking to set up a nightclub in Ireland are:

  • Lease a premises with an existing pub licence and apply to add the Public Dancing Licence
  • Lease a new premises and purchase an existing pub licence or (indeed an off licence) and apply to transfer the licence to new premises.
  • With the licence transfer apply to add a Public Dancing Licence and a Music & Singing Licence for the performances

A Public Dancing Licence essentially permits the sale of alcohol to a later period in the evening. On Friday, Saturday and the eve of a bank holiday this can be up to 2.30a.m. On other nights, the cut off time is 2.00am.

What to Think About

The primary considerations in applying for a new Public Dancing Licence are planning permission, fire safety, noise control and capacity. An application is commenced by giving a month’s notice to the Fire Officer for the City or County in which the application is being made. This is to give the Fire officer an opportunity to inspect the premises as suitable for the conduct of a nightclub from a public and fire safety point of view. The Fire Officer may have specific requirements for any individual premises which may impact on the costs of fitout and more importantly the permitted capacity for that venue. The Fire Officer’s representative will be in court on the day of the application to confirm that the requirement of that office are met and that there is no objection to the creation of the new Dance License. Notice is also given to the local Superintendent of An Garda Siochana for the district in which the premises are located. The Gardai will be required to confirm in any application that they have no objection to the grant of the new dance licence. As can be seen it is therefore a good idea to get any new premises assessed by a Fire Safety Consultant and also to link in with the local Gardai to seek their views on opening a new club in the area. Liaising with the Gardai is always recommended as the most common form of objection is related to anti-social behaviour, drugs and underage consumption of alcohol. The Gardai will want to be assured that measures are in place to minimise the prospects of any of these occurring. Another important requirement is operational CCTV at any premises. The Gardai will require the consent of the owner to access the CCTV footage from the premises as and when necessary in the investigation of any matter they must have to deal with. All security personnel must hold valid an up to date security licence from the Private Security Authority of Ireland. These licenses will be included in the application process.

Grant, Applications and Renewal

A Public Dance Licence once granted is renewed annually in September/October of every year. The grant of licence is the first step of late night opening for a nightclub. Once a licence is granted monthly applications must be made for the relevant nights in any month that the clubs wishes to open. The Gardai are served with notice in each month of the applications for late opening. Maintaining a good relationship with the Gardai is therefore important to the operation of the business. The Gardai can object to the grant of any late night licence where they feel issues arise and the owner is not addressing these issues. They can also object at the annual renewal. Applications are made in the local District Court.

Connect with Leading Licensing Solicitors

At Abacus legal we are connected with the leading licensing solicitors in Ireland. All of our practitioners have established relationships with the local Courts, Gardai and Fire Officers. Their knowledge and expertise has proven critical in the success of some of Ireland’s best known nightclubs and venues. Their costs are at all times transparent and where possible agreed at the start. Free legal advice is available to any party considering a nightclub venture via this site. If you contact us via our form below we will be happy to connect you with our licensing experts.

Connect with our Experts

If you are interested in this topic, send us your details and we will contact you.

Your message has been sent. Thank you!
Often the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.

- @abacuslegal

We connect on Social Media

Folow Us @abacuslegal for news, updates and more


To contact our organisation or to enquire about membership, complete our form below

Grattan House
1 Wellington Quay, Dublin 2

+353 (0)1 5987000

Your message has been sent. Thank you!