Publicans with personal licences that expire early next year will need to complete an application form to renew their licence, the Home Office has confirmed.

The Government said the Deregulation Bill, which will remove the requirement to renew personal licences, will receive Royal Assent no earlier than Spring 2015.

Speaking at the Institute of Licensing National Training Event today, Home Office official Anna Dawson said affected licensees, which it is thought total half a million, will need to submit a short form providing basic information to their local authority. There will be no application fee and no need to supply photographs, criminal record or the existing personal licence.

However, she added that the local authority must acknowledge receipt of the application for it to be valid.

M&C Report’s sister publication The Publican’s Morning Advertiser understands that the Home Office will provide the application form, which it is thought will be amended by secondary legislation, and publish guidance on the revised process “very shortly”.

The form will still need to be lodged no more than three months’ and no less than one month before the licence expiry date.

The Government decided to abolish the need to renew personal licences earlier this year in order to cut red tape.

Poppleston Allen partner Jonathan Smith said the Home Office must make the documents available before the 7 January, as the first licences due for renewal could fall on 7 February.

He said he welcomed the simplified process but is concerned about the lack of detail regarding how licensing authorities must acknowledge the forms.

“If the council don’t like somebody or don’t like their venue and do not acknowledge receipt, that would mean their personal licence lapses.

“I’m sure no licensing authority would be as churlish, but what the spokeswoman from the Home Office couldn’t say is what they mean by ‘acknowledging’ the receipt. Is it a phone call? Does it have to be in writing? What if it’s an electronic application? It seems a little harsh on the licensing authorities. I can’t see why proof of submitting the form won’t suffice.”