Licensing minister James Purnell has revealed that the start date for the new licensing act in England and Wales is to be 24 November.
Most councils and operators had been working on the assumption that the start date for the new regime - or second appointed day as it is known - would be 7 November.
Purnell said: "We have always said the new laws would come into force in November and I'm pleased to be able to give the industry the certainty of a specific date. It's now time to focus on getting the applications in."
If pubs, restaurants and hotels don't have a new licence by the November start date they will not be able to continue trading.
Chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, Nick Bish, said: "This makes things clearer but not necessarily better. Although we know what we are up against, the Government has drawn its line in the sand, despite the 6 August being the crucial date."
Existing licence holders have until 6 August to convert their licences and maintain their existing rights and opening hours. If they miss the cut-off they will have to start their application afresh using the new licensing act rules.
With applications to licensing authorities still low, there are concerns that licensing officers will be inundated in the remaining two months to the conversion deadline and won't cope with the deluge.
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