Determining What Kind of Liquor License You Need


Depending on what kind of establishment or business you own and operate, you’ll need to apply for a specific class of liquor license. The fees that you pay will vary depending on what kind of liquor license you buy and the demand for that type of license in your state or city. The specifics of this information can be found at your state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). Here are the different types of liquor licenses that exist:

• Arts licenses (e.g. theaters, galleries)

Beer and wine licenses (e.g. for smaller businesses only planning to sell beer and wine)

• Brewpub licenses (e.g. for establishments that want to brew their own liquor)

• Club licenses (e.g. for private social clubs that wish to serve alcohol to members only)

• Delivery licenses (e.g. for business that plan to deliver alcohol to customers)

• Eating place licenses (e.g. establishments or businesses that primarily serve food but also wish to sell small amount of alcohol, or take-out beer)

• Hotel licenses (e.g. for hotels with bars and/or restaurants that wish to serve alcohol)

• Restaurant licenses or all-liquor licenses (e.g. for a restaurant that wishes to be able to sell all types of alcohol including beer, wine, and liquor)

• Retail licenses (e.g. for grocery stores, convenience stores, liquor stores, and all retail establishments that wish to sell alcohol in closed containers)

• Tavern licenses (e.g. businesses primarily serving food but making 50% or more of their profits from selling alcohol)


Application Fees and Taxes that Come with Buying a Liquor License


In many cases in the United States, the cost of buying a liquor license will vary from state to state. The price can range from approximately $300 to nearly $20,000, and in some cases, the cost can  top $1 million. Your fees will also be different depending on what kind of business you have. A restaurant in California that only serves beer and wine could have wildly different fees than a liquor store in Massachusetts.

You might also be required to pay local and state fees, which you can find by visiting the state government website. It’s also important to understand that you may not be able to buy a liquor license directly from your state or city, since there is a limited number of available licenses that can be legally issued based on what are called per capita quotas. Because of this, in many cases, you might have to obtain a license from an existing liquor license holder. This might make it more challenging to track down a current holder, and it’s why liquor license brokerages like ours are critical to ensuring you not only find the correct license, but also get the best deal.


Various Fees


In many cases, you won’t be paying all of your costs upfront, and you’ll be paying varying amounts of money to different people and places. Some fees may go towards private individuals or brokers that help you apply for or obtain a liquor license, while other fees may simply be application fees to the state agency where you’re applying. There may also be annual fees that you’re required to pay in order to maintain your liquor license.


Broker Fees that May Come with Buying a Liquor License


If you’re trying to buy a liquor license, especially if you’re in a state with liquor license quotes, it’s often wise to work with a liquor license broker. What is a liquor license broker, exactly? A broker is like a real estate agent, but for alcohol: they help you to buy or sell a license. At Liquor License Advisor, we assist people in finding current liquor licenses that are for sale, as well as helping establishments to buy and sell liquor licenses. Brokers are particularly helpful in tracking down license holders, making sure their licenses are legitimate (there are frauds out there, and you don’t want a phony liquor license), ensuring that all of the paperwork is in order, and providing invaluable feedback based on what kind of  business you own and where you’re hoping to sell liquor. The amount of money you pay a broker will depend on services rendered, and specific circumstances, but can also save you money in the long-run by preventing you from making mistakes, misunderstandings, or oversights.


County Liquor License Fees


The amount that you’ll owe in liquor license fees will vary from county to county. Depending on the area that you live in, it’s possible that you might need to obtain a liquor license for multiple levels of government, or even all four, including federal, state, county, and local. The more levels of liquor licensing that you need to obtain, the more you’ll have to pay. This is on top of a $50-$100 non-refundable processing fee.

You’ll want to obtain a County Beer License if you own an establishment that is located in a county, excluding counties that are located inside a city or within five miles of a city.


State Liquor License Fees


Depending on the class of liquor license, the state and city your establishment is operated in, and what hours you want to sell alcohol during, amongst other factors, your state liquor license fees will vary. Check your ABC website for this information. If you’re looking to buy a liquor license in Boston, for example, and you wish to buy an all-alcohol license and sell until 2 a.m., you could end up shelling out more than $450,000.


Liquor License Attorney Fees


While you don’t necessarily need to hire a lawyer or attorney to help you obtain a liquor license, it can certainly be helpful. A liquor license attorney can help you prepare all of the relevant paperwork needed to apply for a liquor license, as well as make sure you’re in accordance with all regulations. Liquor license attorney fees may be steep, but they may save you money, time, and confusion in the long-run when applying for a liquor license.

Liquor license attorneys can also be hired if you’re facing a serious claim or have been given a summons for violating the liquor law. Hiring a liquor license attorney can cost you $5,000 or more, depending on the services you need. Although it might seem like a pretty penny, it’s best to pay more to do the whole process correctly, and make sure you’re in compliance with all liquor license regulations now than to risk not being able to obtain a liquor license, or even lose it for good later.

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