British laws that state where and when alcoholic drinks can be sold Culturelicensing lawsThe sale of alcohol in Britain is controlled by licensing laws. These restrict where, when and by whom alcohol may be sold. The Licensing Act of 2003 made changes to the law. In order to open a pub or wine bar the owner must obtain the approval of the local authority, which must be satisfied that he or she is a suitable person to sell alcohol. If the application is approved the owner obtains a licence to sell alcohol and becomes the licensee. The name of the licensee is displayed above the front door. The 2003 Act removed many of the previous restrictions on opening hours. Worries about the effects of these changes, when drunkenness is already a serious problem in British towns and cities, delayed the introduction of the new law until 2005.Many pubs are licensed to sell alcohol for drinking on or off the premises (= in the pub or somewhere else). However, most people buy alcohol for drinking at home in a supermarket or an off-licence (= a shop that sells mainly alcohol). Shops and supermarkets have to get a licence, called an off-licence, before they can sell alcohol. Nobody under 18 is allowed to buy alcohol, either in a pub or in a shop.Pubs are only allowed to sell alcohol during official opening hours. Until all the changes in the new law came into effect, pubs were allowed to remain open all day from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., though many closed in the afternoon, but if they wished to stay open after 11 p.m. they had to obtain a special late licence. Now pubs can stay open as long as they like on any day, if they have the appropriate licence. Most pubs open for a shorter time on Sundays.In the US there are local laws about when and where alcohol can be sold. Some towns are dry, i.e. no alcohol can be sold there at all. In general, restaurants and bars need a licence to sell beer and wine. In some states alcohol for drinking at home is sold only in special liquor stores; in other places it is sold in any food shop. There are fewer restrictions on when alcohol can be sold than there are in Britain, and bars can stay open very late. The most common restriction is that alcohol may not be sold early on Sunday mornings.The US has strict laws to try to keep young people from coming into contact with alcohol. The drinking age (= the age at which a person can buy alcohol) is 21, and bars and liquor stores often ask customers for proof of age. In many places, people below 21 cannot work in, or even enter, bars or restaurants that serve alcohol. College students, especially, try to drink in bars by pretending to be older than they are. Young people who work in food shops may have to ask an older employee to serve a customer who wants to buy a bottle of wine. This is also the case in Britain.