The legal availability of alcohol is generally accepted to be one of the main controls on levels of alcohol consumption and harm. Licensing systems are therefore a key component of an overall alcohol control policy.

Licensing laws control where, when and to whom alcohol can be sold or supplied.

Restricting the physical availability of retailed alcohol (via reduced hours of sale) are among the World Health Organization's 'Best Buy' interventions for reducing the prevalence of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

The following questions provide information on the licensing regulations in the UK and trends in the number of licensed premises. There is also information about the impact of licensing and availability regulations on public health and the night time economy.