Retailers across the UK are poised to apply for licences to sell alcohol round the clock under the Licensing Bill, which is due to get Royal Assent shortly.
An Association of Convenience Stores spokesman said: "Retailers will soon be able to apply for 24/7 licences. The government has stated strongly in its guidance notes that it expects councils to grant licences to cover retailers' full opening hours."
The Licensing Bill was finally approved by the Commons on Tuesday and was presented to the Queen for Royal Assent as The Grocer went to press on Thursday.
The ACS said the final draft copy of advice on the new system for retailers and local authorities will be issued in August.
All groups affected by the changes will be invited to comment and Parliament will hammer out the guidance document in September.
After that local councils will have six months to put together licence policies. The ACS said that according to the current timetable, retailers would have to reapply for existing licences or apply for new ones from April 2004. But if they did not apply by September 30 2004, they would not be able to enjoy the new benefits.
Initial licence applications will cost between £100-£500. Annual licence charges will cost £50-£150 and personal licences will cost £30.

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