Key Scottish Licensing Information | Highfield Qualifications

The Scottish Certificate for Personal Licence Holders qualification 

Anyone involved in the sale of alcohol in both on-sales and off-sales environments must complete the SCPLH at SCQF level 6 to apply for a licence. Taking around 10 hours of learning to complete, the qualification provides an introduction to licensing, the responsible operation of licensed premises and the effects of irresponsible operation on society and people’s health.

Refresher training

Scottish licensing laws require that all personal licence holders complete refresher training within five years of the date their licence was issued. Licence holders must provide evidence they have completed refresher training to the licensing board that issued their personal licence in the first place. This can be done through a refresher qualification such as the SCPLH (Refresher) at SCQF level 6. Applications for the renewal of personal licences must be submitted three months before the expiry date.


Recently there have been changes to the requirements for personal licence holders in terms of refresher training and personal licence renewal.

If you already hold a SCPLH qualification and are a licence holder whose licence is coming up for renewal, it’s best practice to sit the refresher as soon as possible, and send the qualification certificate with your application for renewal.

Trainers don’t need a licence, but do need an SCPLH qualification and up-to-date CPD, which can include refresher training, to align with delivery and assessment requirements.

Applications for the renewal of personal licences issued on 1 September 2009 must reach licensing boards by 31 May 2019, or three months before the expiry date.

So don’t be late as licensing boards will be busy. Last time there were changes, nearly 8,000 missed out.

Advice from Janet Hood about the changes

Janet Hood said, ‘Personal licence holders who want to renew their personal licences must apply to the licensing board that issued their personal licence three months before the personal licence expiry date. So if a personal licence expires on:

  • 31 August 2019, the last date for making applications is 31 May 2019
  • 5 September 2019, the last date for making applications is June 2019
  • 10 November 2019, the last date for making applications is 10 August 2019

However, it is best practice to complete your training and applications as soon as possible. I would recommend that licence holders who want to renew their personal licences should undertake training now and get their applications for renewal to the licensing board that issued their personal licence as soon as possible.

To do this, these are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Sit the SCPLH course and secure the SCPLH refresher training pass certificate.
  2. Complete the personal licence renewal application form.
  3. Get 2 colour passport-sized photographs and have one of them endorsed on the back by a person of standing in the community with: ‘I certify this is a true likeness of (YOUR FULL NAME)’. The person endorsing the photograph should sign it and date it, with their name written clearly.
  4. Get a cheque or postal order for the sum of £50, made payable to the licensing board that issued your personal licence. Some boards permit you to pay by BACS or card, but you need to check this.
  5. Find your original personal licence (all pages).
  6. Check the application procedure for the licensing board that will issue your personal licence. Some of them have other requirements, for example, certified true copies of passports or other approved ID.
  7. Take a copy of everything and keep them in a safe place. Put originals of all the above in an envelope addressed to the licensing board that issued your personal licence in the first place.
  8. Either hand deliver, or post by tracked and signed-for delivery, to the licensing board that issued your personal licence. Keep the postal receipt, or obtain and keep a receipt from the licensing board when you hand it in. Keep the receipt with the copies of the documentation you made.

Late applications will not be considered, and if the application has not been made on time, the personal licence will cease to be valid on the date of expiry. Licence holders also have responsibility for ensuring their application has actually been received by their licensing board by the expiry date, so keep copies and get receipts, as mistakes can occur and you may need to prove you made the application on time.

Likewise, businesses should consider having a spare licence holder registered as a premises manager so that if there are any problems, your business doesn’t suffer. If you don’t have a spare personal licence holder, I suggest you have a member of staff undertake the full SCPLH training and make an application for a personal licence for that member of staff now’.

Tips for successful applications

  • Complete training as early as possible – do not wait until May 2019.
  • If you are a training provider, inform your customers, advising them of the issues and encouraging them to book their training early.
  • If you are a premises operator, put another staff member through SCPLH training and make the application for a personal licence. If the current premises manager’s application is not completed in time, a substitute personal licence holder can be put in place.
  • Make sure you can prove you made an application. Deliver your application by hand and obtain a receipt, which must state words to the effect of: ‘Received complete application and fee for personal licence renewal on X date’. If you absolutely have no alternative, send your application by signed-for mail and keep the tracking receipt and delivery receipt. Also, keep a copy of your application. 
  • If you are an individual looking for a course, use Highfield’s ‘Course Finder Plus’ to search for courses near you at

Supporting your training


Highfield offers two SQA-accredited qualifications for persons interested in becoming personal licence holders: the Scottish Certificate for Personal Licence Holders and the Scottish Certificate for Personal Licence Holders (Refresher).

Successful completion of the course proves that a learner understands the legal and social responsibilities of selling alcohol and can apply to become a personal licence holder.

Learn more about qualifications:


We’ve been creating world-leading products for over 35 years. Used by over 2 million learners every year, Highfield Products can be trusted.

We offer the following materials to support our Scottish licensing qualifications:


A Question of Licensing for Scotland, Bayliss, N.

SCPLH and SCPLH (R) Licensing Course Book, Bayliss, N and Hood, J.

Tutor Presentations

SCPLH Licensing Training Presentation, Bayliss, N

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Ideal for covering the knowledge element of the SCPLH or SCPLH(R) qualification, Highfield offers an innovative, interactive SCPLH e-learning course. Developed by an award-winning e-learning team, the course features:

  • interactive exercises/gaming
  • media-rich content
  • interactive 3D scenarios
  • content provided by market-leading experts
  • relevant photography and illustrations
  • multi-generational content and style

Try a free demo: