Liquor License Applications in Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania


To sell alcohol at any venue in the United States, you need a liquor license. Each of the 50 states has a unique way of issuing these liquor licenses. The liquor license application process varies greatly from sea to shining sea.

In 17 states, liquor license quotas exist. Those states are:

• Alaska

• Arizona

• California

• Florida

• Idaho

• Kentucky

• Massachusetts

• Michigan

• Minnesota

• Montana

• New Jersey

• New Mexico

• Ohio

• Pennsylvania

• South Dakota

• Utah

• Washington

To help you with the application process, here are the basics on how to get a liquor license in the states of Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, four states we commonly receive questions about.



In Florida, liquor licenses are handled by the statewide alcohol beverage control commission, the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco Bureau of Licensing. Three of the most popular types of liquor licenses in Florida are the quota license, the SRX, and the beer and wine license.



Florida is one of 17 states with a quota on the number of liquor licenses issued each year. The quota license is only required for full-service alcohol establishments, such as package-liquor stores, bars, and dining facilities that do not qualify for a SRX license.



With a special restaurant alcoholic beverage license (SRX), you can sell beer, wine, and liquor for consumption on the premises of a restaurant. However, to qualify for this license, that restaurant must get at least 51% of its revenue from food and non-alcoholic beverages. There is no quota on the number of SRX licenses issued in Florida each year.


Beer and Wine

Beer and wine licenses are the easiest and most affordable option for many business owners in Florida and can be used in restaurants, conveniences stores, and bars. However, this type of license does not necessarily make business owners much money.

Applications for each of these licenses are available online and at any ABT license office in the state of Florida. For each of these liquor license applications, you will have to provide fingerprints, a requirement that many other states do not have.



In Massachusetts, the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts controls the issue of liquor licenses, of which there are approximately two-dozen types. The most commonly requested licenses fall into two categories: the alcohol beverages local retail license and the alcoholic beverages state license.


Local Retail License

The local retail liquor license application varies in each town and city in Massachusetts. Different types of local retail liquor licenses allow you to operate a package-liquor store, serve alcohol beverages at restaurants, or run a bar or nightclub. All liquor license applications and the associated fees must be submitted online. The ABCC recommends that you contact your Local Licensing Authority (LLA) before submitting your application, as they may have additional requirements for the liquor license application process in your area.


State License

State liquor licenses in Massachusetts are available under several broad categories, which include distribution licenses, direct-to-consumer licenses, broker or salesperson licenses, storage permits, transportation permits, manufacturer licenses, one-day special permits, and out-of-state licenses. Each of these liquor licenses has a separate application.


New Jersey

The Division of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) issues liquor licenses in New Jersey and the state has some of the toughest liquor license regulations in the country. Population and local ordinances limit the number of retail liquor licenses issued in a municipality, which makes it harder to obtain liquor licenses available for bars, restaurants, and package-liquor stores. For that reason, liquor licenses are often sold privately within a municipality and can be expensive.

There are 29 distinct types of liquor licenses issued in the state of New Jersey. One 12-page universal application form can be used for both local liquor licenses and state liquor licenses in New Jersey. However, only certain liquor license applications can be submitted online.

Three of the most common types of liquor licenses in New Jersey are the plenary retail consumption license, the restricted brewery license, and the bring-your-own-bottle license.


Plenary Retail Consumption License

The plenary retail consumption license allows alcohol beverages to be sold for consumption on the premises of a licensed venue as well as in packaged forms that can be removed from the licensed venue. This type of liquor license is best suited for restaurants and bars.


Restricted Brewery License

The restricted brewery license allows you to brew malt alcoholic beverages in restricted quantities each year. To acquire this liquor license, you will need a plenary retail consumption license. The restaurant or bar associated with your plenary retail consumption license must be associated and adjacent to your brewery.



Pennsylvania, like New Jersey, has some of the strictest liquor laws in the country. In the state of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) issues and renews liquor licenses. If you would like to acquire a new liquor license in Pennsylvania, you must register an online account with PLCB+, which allows applicants and licensees to submit liquor license applications, conduct business with the board, and access education and certification resources.

The most commonly requested liquor licenses in Pennsylvania are categorized by the kind of venue in which the alcoholic beverages are to be sold, such as the restaurant liquor license, the club and catering club liquor license, the distributor liquor license, the eating place liquor license, and the hotel liquor license. The restaurant, club and catering, eating place, and hotel liquor licenses require that the sale of alcoholic beverages be the secondary reason for the venue’s establishment.

Pennsylvania’s Liquor code limits the number of retail liquor licenses that a county can issue each year based on that county’s population. The quota is updated every 10 years to reflect any changes in the federal census. Restaurant, distributor, and eating place liquor licenses are among those affected by this quota.

Since Pennsylvania established its quota 1939, some counties have more retail liquor licenses than the quota allows. These “extra” licenses are still eligible for renewal, but no new licenses can be issued in those counties.

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