To be honest, obtaining a liquor license can be quite a long and challenging process. Each county, town, and state, especially in the United States will have different requirements and licensing procedures for obtaining a permit for selling alcohol in a particular region. Whether it is a tavern (includes a bar) or just a liquor store. Opening a liquor store and getting a license to run this type of business also comes with a cost or fee. And certain legal formalities are also crucial. Here is an informative blog for you on how to get a liquor license in the United States.
Understanding the general steps and legal guidelines for applying. To get a liquor license in any state in the U.S. will help you make the process much easier. In this article, we will cover all the necessary insights about getting a liquor license in your state.
A liquor license is a permission which issue by the government that allows an individual to sell alcoholic beverages. It might seem relatively straight forward, but believe it or not, there are a few different kinds of liquor licenses.
You need to understand what type of liquor license you are going to need and what the exact laws are regarding liquor licenses based on your specific location. Alcohol laws will vary from state to state. Some states will limit the number of locations that can sell alcohol at any given time and make it difficult for new bars and restaurants to get a license immediately.
Each state has its own Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) board. This agency is in charge of regulating the sale of alcohol. You will contact to understand your state’s laws find out how much a liquor license will cost you. And determine the process of how to get a liquor license in your state.
Basically, there are two main types of liquor licenses. These are an on-license and off-license. Now, the type of liquor license that you will need depends on how you want to sell liquor.
You will need an on-license liquor license if the liquor you sell intends to consume on the premises of your business. For example, a bar or restaurant.
You will need an off-license if the liquor you sell intends to consume off the premises. For example, a liquor store or grocery store.
As a bar or restaurant owner, you will always be looking to obtain an on-license liquor license. However, in most states, there are additional classes of liquor licenses to also be aware of.
These are mentioning as under:
This license has a limit on what percent of a restaurant’s earnings can come from alcohol. There is no limit to what type of alcohol you sell but you need to keep the financial limit in mind. This percentage is usually in the region of 40%. So, make sure you have that magic number top of mind as you run your business.
If you do not intend to serve hard liquor, this is what you will need.
If your business is more of a bar than a restaurant (making more profit off of liquor than food) then you will need to obtain a tavern license.
A full liquor license can range from $12,000 to as high as $400,000. Whereas, licenses for beer and wine only can be as low a $3,000-5,000. This also varies from state to state.
Plenty of restaurateurs and bar owners embark on the journey of getting a liquor license without really considering how long it is going to take to complete the process. Planning appropriately will prevent you from having to guess at how long it takes to get a liquor license and will make sure that you are legally able to whip up all the drinks you want at your store or bar’s grand opening day.
Any license you obtain for running a business is usually valid for about 1-3 years. And renewing is normally an easier process than getting one for the first time. As long as you have not been reported as selling to minors, or have been a problematic entity in your area, you should be able to get a liquor license renewal usually in around 90 days before it expires, or 120 days after it expires (again, depending on your state). Your liquor license cost will also go down significantly, as the renewal cost can drop as much as $1,000 or more from the original cost.
Once you understand the laws around how to get a liquor license, you are ready to apply. There are a few things which you will want to keep in mind in order to understand everything from the cost of getting a liquor license to how long it takes to get one. While some states will allow a person to serve alcohol at the age of 18 or older, you must legally be at least 21 years old to obtain a liquor license.
You may also have to provide proof of the other restaurant licenses and permits that you have already obtained, as well as a certificate of incorporation, employee identification number (EIN), a partnership agreement, a proposed food menu, your company constitution and a copy of the certificate of title for the premises, to name a few. Once again, this varies by state, so be sure to check in with your local government before applying for one.
What all this information means is that obtaining a liquor license is a complicated, expensive and time-consuming process. But with liquor sale profit margins so high, it is a process that many business owners deem worth it. If you count yourself as one of those business owners, let us help you to initiate your application with our state-by-state guide to obtaining a liquor license.
To get a liquor license in the state of Alabama, you will need to call and arrange an appointment with the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) licensing division office in your county. Before your appointment, you must complete a pre-application form and checklist.
The checklist outlines the documents you must bring with you to the licensing division office, including your pre-application form, corporation or LLC paperwork, identifying documents, written approval from the governing authority and a liquor liability insurance certificate, among other paperwork.
According to the Alabama ABC website, licenses range in price from $100 to $1,000, depending on the type of license you need. All liquor licenses expire annually on Sep 30th. The license renewal period is from June 1st to July 31st of each year.
Applying for a liquor license in Alaska is usually takes three to six months. The process involves approval from the Alaska ABC board, your local government and other state agencies, according to the Alaska Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office website. To start, you must complete, sign and notarize your liquor license application and then post it prominently at the location of your business for 10 days.
After 10 days, you can submit your liquor license application to the Alaska ABC board along with a variety of other required forms, including a posting affidavit, proof of advertising and fingerprint cards. Once the ABC board has all your paperwork, they will contact the necessary authorities to approve your application.
Alaska liquor licenses range in price from $50 to $2,500 and must be renewed every two years.
The state of Arizona has 21 different series of liquor licenses, each with its own unique application process. You can apply for an Arizona liquor license online via the Arizona Department of Liquor website. To get started, register for an account and complete the information on the “My Profile” page.
You will also be prompted to upload any required documents in PDF format. Your required documents vary based on the license you are applying for, but all applications must include fingerprint cards. Once submitted, most applications will be processed within 105 days.
The cost of an Arizona liquor license ranges from $100 to $2,000. All licenses must be renewed annually.
The Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Division of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration is responsible for regulating liquor licenses in Arkansas. There are six different types of liquor licenses you can apply for. These are
Each application mail to the Arkansas ABC office along with a criminal background check. An entertainment form and a form certifying that you have attended an ABC educational seminar.
The price for license ranges from $100 to $3,000. And is due at the time you submit your application.
The California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control states that any person wishing to obtain an alcoholic beverage license should apply at the nearest office of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Additionally, they advise checking with appropriate county or city officials to determine if a local business license is required, or if any zoning laws conflict with your desired license. Its website states that the average processing time for a new liquor license in California is 90 days and a person-to-person transferred license is 75 days. Note that in California, liquor licenses must be renewed every 12 months.
According to the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Liquor & Tobacco Enforcement website, to acquire a Colorado liquor license, you must first gain approval at the local government level and submit to a background check. If approved, you will have to visit the Department of Revenue portal and select the application type that matches your business. Colorado has seven different liquor license permits. These are:
Liquor Sales Room
Each and every permit has its own unique application process and price. All permits are subject to local and state fees and must be renewed annually.
In order to get a liquor license in Connecticut, you must submit an application along with the necessary paperwork and payment at a drop box at the Department of Consumer Protection Self-Service Centre in Hartford. There are 26 different types of liquor license permits you can apply for.
The on-premise liquor permit application requires you to receive approval from your local municipality and submit a variety of general business information. On-premise liquor permit applications take 60 to 90 days to process and may range in price from $60 to $2,750. Also, they must be renewed annually.
To get a liquor license in Delaware, you can apply online via the Office of Alcoholic Beverage Control Commissioner (OABCC) online license system. Here are different application types and prices depending on whether you plan to import liquor into the state, supply liquor to Delaware importers, or sell alcohol at a group gathering.
To sell alcohol at a group gathering you must submit an application that includes a copy of the deed or lease of the premises, where you will be selling alcohol and the number of gatherings you plan on hosting over a two-year period (licenses are renewed biennially). If you plan on hosting more than 76 gatherings over a two-year period, you must pay a $1,000 permit fee, plus an additional $400 to sell on Sundays.
There are a variety of liquor license permits in Florida, with a retail beverage permit to sell beer, wine, and liquor among the most common. The permit requires you to mail your application along with supporting documentation (fingerprints, zoning information, health approval) and a $400 application fee to your local Alcohol, Beverage & Tobacco Division office for approval.
Licenses must be renewed annually and costs may vary depending on the population size of your county. Florida also distributes quota licenses annually via a lottery system. To be included in the lottery you must submit a quota application and $100 fee to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation between the third Monday of August and 45 days thereafter.
According to the Georgia.gov website, “Georgia requires three types of licenses/permits to sell alcohol, namely a local alcohol license, a state alcohol license and a Federal Basic Permit. There are many different types of licenses, such as Brewpub, Broker, Farm Winery, etc.”
You must first apply for your local license with local authorities and then you can apply for your state license through the Georgia Tax Centre website. There are different liquor licenses in Georgia for manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers. For retailers who wish to allow for the consumption of alcohol on the premises, a license can range in price from $10 to $1,000.
Note that with all applications, you may also have to submit to a background check, tax clearance and fingerprint process.
The process for acquiring a liquor license in Hawaii varies depending on the Hawaiian county you reside in. Liquor licenses in Honolulu manage by the Honolulu Liquor Commission. Liquor licenses differ by business type such as restaurant, cruise vessel, etc. and the kind of liquor you wish to serve. Applications can be submitted online or in-person at the Honolulu Liquor Commission. Once an application is submitted, there will be a preliminary and public hearing regarding the issuance of the license.
Licenses must be renewed annually and can cost anywhere from $45 to $5,940.
According to the Idaho Statesman acquiring a liquor license in Idaho is notoriously difficult due to a quota system that limits the number of licenses. A city can have based on its population. All incorporated cities start with two licenses and have access to one additional license for every 1,500 residents. To apply for an Idaho liquor license, you must submit an application and supporting documentation to the Alcohol Beverage Control Bureau (ABC) of the Idaho State Police.
Application requirements differ by application types such as restaurant and wholesaler, but most require proof of identification, control of the premise and proof of U.S. citizenship, according to Liquorlicence.com website. All applications are processed within 90 days of submission. If your application is approved, you will be placed on a waitlist until a license becomes available.
licences must be renewed annually. You may contact the Idaho Alcohol Beverage Control Bureau for more information at 208-884-7060 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Illinois, the cost of a retail liquor license is $750. When you submit your application, you must include your local liquor license, sales tax number/Illinois business tax (IBT) number and federal employer identification number (FEIN).
In addition, if you plan to allow on-premise consumption, you must obtain a certificate of insurance. A photocopy of your local license is also important. Information on applying for other liquor licenses can be found on the Illinois Liquor Control Commission’s website.
You can choose the application you wish to apply for on the website of the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission (ATC). And completed applications and supporting documentation can be mailed to the Indiana ATC or submitted online. The ATC suggests applying for a permit at least 90 days prior to the date you intend to distribute alcohol. For more information, you may contact the ATC at (317) 232-2430.
The State of Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division has a nifty portal where you can find information on how to get a liquor license in Iowa, review liquor laws, search license records, view fee information and more. Most licenses can be obtained online. See their Electronic Licensing User Guide for more info.
The state of Kansas allows you to apply for your liquor license online via the Kansas Department of Revenue’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Department. Their helpful website explains how to apply for a license, processing times. And how your license will be delivered when you will need to renew it and more.
Before applying be sure to obtain a FEIN register for business taxes. And also has a valid tax clearance certificate from the Kansas Department of Revenue. Applications are processed within 30 days and licenses are valid for two years only.
The Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) portal for the state of Kentucky contains links to all the appropriate forms for liquor licensing. ABC applications and forms may be printed, filled out and submitted to ABC via mail or fax and you must receive local approval before a state license can be issued.
Other stipulations include advertising your intent to apply for a liquor license at least one time in the local paper of record before applying and providing background check documentation.
Licenses must be renewed yearly and license fees may range from $30 to $7,730.
Louisiana offers a variety of different applications for both on-premise and off-premise permits. The Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control requires new on-premise applicants to advertise their intent in a local newspaper, provide general identification and business information and fingerprint cards.
Complete applications along with supporting documents and the application fee ($320 for a beer and liquor permit in a city) should be mailed to the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control. Applications are processed within 35 days.
The Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages & Lottery Operations provides a step-by-step process for acquiring a liquor license. You can acquire your application materials online and submit your completed application, supporting materials and fees via mail or in person. Note that on-premise licenses require approval from the local municipality before receiving state approval. This may require a public hearing and for the business to advertise their intent to acquire a license in the local paper for three consecutive days. For further questions contact the Division of Liquor Licensing and Enforcement at (207) 624-7220 or via e-mail at maineLiquor@maine.gov.
You can find the application for a Maryland liquor license and more information on how to apply for the license on the Comptroller of Maryland’s website. The application calls for some general business and identification information, as well as a background check. Applicants also need to file for licenses with their local government.
In Baltimore County, a liquor license application comes with a $600 fee. All state licenses must be renewed annually.
To apply for a retail liquor license in Massachusetts, you will need to complete a new retail license application along with a notarized Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) form. Depending on which city your business is in, you may be able to apply online. You will send these forms along with a $200 application fee to your Local Licensing Authority (LLA).
Then, you have to publish an advertisement for a public hearing on your application in the local paper of record. It must be published within 10 days of your application being submitted. The hearing will be held between 10 and 30 days after your application is received.
The LLA will either approve or disapprove your application. If it gets disapproval, you can appeal to the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC), who can overturn or uphold the LLA decision.
If you are looking to acquire a retail liquor license in Michigan, you can find the application on the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website. Each and every state license application must include fingerprint cards, local government approval and property, and business documents.
Depending on whether you are looking for an on-premise or off-premise permit, you can pay up to $1,000 in fees. The Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) says applications can take up to several months for processing. And may also require a face-to-face meeting between the prospective licensee and an MLCC investigator.
For Minnesota liquor license, you must start by gaining approval from your local government. Your state application will ask for a business name and address, owner information, building information, your business tax ID and the nature of any entertainment or food offered.
Applications can be submitted to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement. After the initial application files, the license bureau may conduct a background check of ownership, which may include an investigation by law enforcement. After the application goes through an initial review process, the licensing bureau may require a public hearing or a period for public comment. Fee for a liquor license is different for the location and size of the establishment.
To apply for a Mississippi liquor license each application must include ownership information, financial statements, fingerprint cards and a copy of your business lease or deed. Applicants must also give public notice of their intent to pursue a liquor license by advertising for two consecutive issues in the local newspaper of record. Based on the type of permit you are seeking, license fees can range from $45 to $9,025. Your completed application, supplemental paperwork and license fee should be submitted to the Mississippi ABC.
To sell liquor in Missouri, you will need to pay a $300 application fee and submit a criminal background check, proof of voter registration and a variety of other paperwork along with your application form. Depending on your district, you will have to send your application to one of three different Alcohol and Tobacco Control offices located throughout the state. Applications may take 10 to 21 days for processing.
You can follow the steps in the online portal provided by the Montana Department of Revenue to apply for a liquor license. You will need to pay a license fee that can range from $400 to $800 plus an application processing fee of $400. Montana liquor licenses renew annually before June 30th. Note that you will have to submit fingerprint cards with your application. For more information, you may contact the Montana Department of Revenue at (406) 444-6900.
To get a Nebraska State liquor license, applications must be mailed, faxed, or e-mailed to the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission. The Liquor Control Commission asks if you wish to bring an application for a liquor license into their office so that it may be reviewed before you submit, call the office first and make an appointment ahead of time. There is a $400 application fee, and applications can take up to 60 days to be processed.
To get a liquor license in the state of Nevada, you will need to contact the local county office that deals with business licenses. Contact the Nevada Alcoholic Beverage Control if you have issues locating the right office. You can also download a Nevada liquor license application form online. You may need to pay an application fee of up to $550, depending on the type of license you are applying for. Licenses renew annually by July 1st.
In New Hampshire, you must first fill out a form to request an application for a liquor license. Based on the type of entity you run, there will be different processes. Fortunately, they have guides for each and every one of them. When you submit your actual application, you will have to pay a $100 fee.
Then, you will also have to submit to an inspection of your business premises. Once the inspection is complete, call the licensing help desk at (603) 271-3523 and schedule a final appointment. Bring copies of all your required paperwork to the appointment.
In the Garden State, you have to contact the Municipal Clerk or your local ABC board for a copy of a retail license application. The application requires information about the business owner and business location, as well as a $200 filing fee. New Jersey has a requirement to renew licenses annually. Note that you can also apply for some New Jersey liquor licenses via the online licensing system.
New Mexico is a quota state, meaning it has a limited number of liquor licenses. That being the case, the Licensing Department suggests you employ a liquor license broker in your area to assist you. You can find more information on their website. If you do find a license, there is a $200 application fee, fingerprint cards, tax clearance, and other documentation submitted to the New Mexico Alcohol and Gaming Division.
To get liquor licenses in the state of New York, you must file a form with information on how to apply and any other details you may need to know. The Liquor Authority Division of New York allows you to submit your application online. Before filing, you must provide notice to the municipality of your intent to pursue a license via a Standardised Notice Form and wait 30 days thereafter to file your application. Note that fingerprint cards are a requirement in your application.
You can download the forms to complete to acquire a liquor license in North Carolina via the ABC online portal. All applications must be submitted with the usual business and identification paperwork, as well as FEIN-SSN verification and fingerprint cards. Application fees range in price from $100 to $1,000 and all licenses must be renewed annually. After you submit your application to the North Carolina ABC, the commission will investigate the applicant and the premises for which the permit is requested with help from the Alcohol Law Enforcement Division.
To apply for a liquor license in North Dakota you must submit an application and the appropriate license fee (cost varies by alcohol type and filing month) to the Office of the Attorney General. The application processes in four to six weeks and every license renew on or before December 31st of each year.
Apply for a liquor permit in Ohio you will have to submit an application along with a $100 processing fee. Once processing begins, the local legislative authority and local police department will get a notice. A Licensing Office compliance officer will also perform a physical inspection of the applicant’s premises and ensure their business is zoned for the sale of alcohol.
There may also be a hearing if requested by either the legislative body or a public institution. Given all these steps, it can take ten to twelve weeks to get approval for a liquor license in Ohio. The price of a license varies but could be as much as $2,344.
You can apply for an Oklahoma liquor license on the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement (ABLE) Commission’s online portal. The cost to submit an application is $55, and licenses must be renewed annually.
To get a liquor license in Oregon your application submission to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) office that serves your county. After the OLCC accepts your license application packet, they will give you a copy of the application to take to your local government.
The local government allows up to 45 days to process your application and provide a recommendation to the OLCC. Some license applicants may also be important to post a public notice of the license application at their business location. The OLCC will work with you to meet this requirement. Most applications take four to eight weeks to process overall. Prices vary depending on the type of application you are applying for.
If you have interest in applying for alcohol permits or licenses through the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB). You must first register to use the PLCB+ system using an access code provided by the PLCB, anyone without an access code can e-mail email@example.com to obtain one. The PLCB+ portal will be your one-stop shop to liquor licensing and resources for good.
Apply for a liquor license directly online through the State of Rhode Island licensing portal. First-time applicants must register a new account. You can find the different types of applications on the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation website. For all liquor inquiries, you can contact LeeAnn Desilets, Liquor Section Licensing Aide, by phone at (401) 462-9544 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The South Carolina Department of Revenue regulates liquor licenses for the state. See their website for a list of license types and their specifics. All applications take six to eight weeks to process. Within 30 days before you submit your application you must run an ad in the local paper of record stating your intention to pursue a liquor license for the business. A license to sell wine, liquor, and beer in South Carolina costs between $5 and $2,200 every two years, depending on your specific license type. There is also a filing fee ranging between $200 and $300.
The South Dakota Department of Revenue instructs you to contact your county auditor for license availability. The cost and what the local process is for obtaining a license. See their website for more information.
Tennessee does Liquor-by-the-Drink licensing, meaning you can get a license specific to the type of alcohol and business type. Meanwhile, starting with your application, you will have to go through the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s (TABC) Regulatory Licensing and Permitting System (RLPS), which is an online portal for submitting an application.
You can apply for liquor permits in Texas online through the TABC portal. You will be able to select from a multitude of different application types and automatically see what each license will ultimately cost. In addition, the TABC portal uses to certify sellers and servers.
See the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control website for information on licensing and links to various licensing portals. After submitting an application, the applicant will get informing time when the ABC will be deliberating on their application.
The ABC considers the proximity and condition of the location, the applicant’s background and characteristics, the type of operation and a variety of other factors when considering whether to issue a license or not. License fees vary in price but can be as high as $10,000.
The Vermont Department of Liquor Control has a useful portal to guide you in choosing the correct license for your business. And then instructing you through that process. When you complete your liquor license application you will submit the application to the municipality. And the license will be sent along with the required fees to both the municipality and the Department of Liquor Control.
Furthermore, as your application process on the local level, you will submit additional paperwork on the state level, including a background check and business information. You will also have to attend a seminar held by the Department of Liquor Control.
The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control website provides information on the three different types of licenses in Virginia: Banquet, retail, and industry. However, each type of application varies in terms of required information and cost. An on-premise retail application comes with a $195 fee.
Applicants also have to post notice of their application on their place of business for ten and two consecutive days. The ABC requires to conduct a background investigation on applicants and notify the local government of the application.
Moreover, special agents can contact local officials, residents and nearby business people to see if there are any objections. A license issued to an applicant 30 days after the first published notice of the application in the newspaper.
The state of Washington recommends you to submit an application 90 days in advance. To start with your application, visit the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) website and follow the outlined processes. Along with your application you will have to submit an LCB addendum and an alcohol dealer registration.
You also need additional local, state and federal licenses for your business. You can file your application online or via mail. All applications must include a $75 filing fee. Afterward, the WSLCB will put you through a review process that includes an interview and a public comment period.
For more information on licensing requirements for your business.
Contact the Department of Revenue, Business Licensing Service at 1-800-451-7985 or e-mail at email@example.com.
All applications submitted by mail with fingerprint cards, a $5,000 alcohol beverage control bond and/or a $1,000 non-intoxicating beer bond, building and business information and a copy of a valid health permit to the West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration. However, licenses range in price from $100 to $2,650 and must be renewed annually.
If you need further assistance, contact the Licensing Division at 304-356-5500 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To apply for a liquor license you must contact the clerk for the city for business. The clerk will assist you with applications and information then the licensing authority will have a say on your application. The license does not grant until at least 15 days after the application file with the clerk.
Liquor licensing complete online through Wyoming’s Eliquor 2.0 portal. See instructions for registering for the program on the website. Once you have completed registration the Wyoming Liquor Division will email you to inform you about the account activation. After you log in, you will be able to navigate your options to apply for a liquor license.
For an individual, opening a bar is about more than choosing the perfect beer and liquor list. There are a number of restaurant licenses and permits that you need to get out of the way before you can open for business. In getting caught up in dreaming about all the delicious drinks that one plans to offer, many forget about the extent of the legalities.
They have to navigate first that can throw a serious wrench in your grand opening plans if they are not executed correctly. So, when figuring out how to obtain a liquor license in your state, make sure you read. The information mentioned above in order to avoid any speed bumps in opening your dream restaurant or bar.