Setting Capacities for Licensed Premises

This page contains information about the process for setting capacities for certain licensed premises. Under Section 43 of the Act, the licensing authority can impose conditions on a licence to protect the health, safety and welfare of customers and staff in a licensed premises.  


In April 2013 following consultation with Practitioners, Australian Hotels Association (AHA), Adelaide City Council Liquor Licensing Officer and Licensing Enforcement Branch, the Liquor & Gambling Commissioner endorsed a new approach where Councils, through their development approval process, or Private Certifier would advise Consumer and Business Services (CBS) of capacities for inclusion on licences. 

In March 2014 the Commissioner’s Practice Direction which details application requirements and lodgement details was amended to include a requirement for applications to provide details of capacities as set by a Council or Private Certifier. Some licence classes may not required the setting of capacities including Direct Sales, Wholesale Liquor Merchants, Retail Liquor Merchants, Producers (i.e. home office or administrative office) and residential (i.e. mini-bars).

The process

Traditionally, individual capacities for licensed premises have been set for each separate area accessible to the public within a licensed premises. As a result of the changes, capacities can now be set in the following ways:

  • Independent capacity assessment supplied – An applicant may obtain a capacity assessment from either a local Council, registered Private Certifier of a registered architect stating the maximum capacities for public areas within a licensed premises. Capacities may be set for individual areas, a combination of individual and combined areas or on a whole of premises basis. However, the licensing authority retains the discretion to require capacities be set for individual areas of high risk licence types such as hotels, special circumstances and entertainment venues.
  • No independent capacity assessment supplied – If an applicant does not supply a capacity assessment, CBS will set a capacity for each area of the premises at the ratio of one person per square metre. The applicant is allowed 3 months to supply an alternative capacity assessment from the local Council, registered Private Certifier or registered architect otherwise the capacities calculated by CBS become permanent. A licensee must apply, pay the application fee and supply a capacity statement if they want to have the capacities altered after this time.

Outdoor Areas

Councils, registered private certifiers and registered architects may not set capacities for outdoor areas. CBS will set a capacity for an outdoor area as follows:

  • Beer Gardens – One person per one square metre;
  • Footpaths – According to the number of tables and chairs authorised by the Outdoor Dining permit.

Overall Capacity

Should the total capacity of the individual areas combined be greater than any overall capacity imposed on the premises, the overall capacity prevails.


Jim’s hotel has a front bar area (Area 1 – 70 persons), a dining area (Area 2 – 70 persons) and a gaming room (Area 3 – 70 persons). The total capacity if the three areas are added together is 210 persons, however an ‘overall’ capacity condition of 150 persons has been set by the Commissioner because of limited toilet facilities.

This means Jim can have no more than 150 persons on the licensed premises at any given time. The 150 patrons can be distributed between the 3 areas, so long as they do not exceed, the individual area capacities (in this case 70 persons) and the overall capacity of 150 persons in total.