Sell a Liquor License: Price and Value of Liquor Licenses


If you own a business that deals with the sale and distribution of alcohol, a liquor license is a valuable and often necessary asset. In some states, liquor licenses can be sold from one business entity to another depending on supply and demand. For example, if a restaurant is going out of business, that establishment’s  liquor license can be sold to qualified buyers who will use the license in accordance with the class of license, type of license, and any restrictions.


Luckily, most states allow liquor licenses to be bought and sold, but have different specifications for what is required. There are three types of liquor license transfers or sales, including person to person (or business to business), where the building and liquor license are both sold; place to place with the same business, where a business moves locations and retains the same liquor license; or a double transfer, where the location and owner both change. Your state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) will have information on selling a liquor license that’s specific to your area. State laws have different categories for liquor licenses, including how the license can be used.


Sometimes, business owners opt to sell their license when they’re no longer conducting business at their property. It’s also a savvy way to turn a valuable asset into making money back, which is especially important if you’re closing down a business.


Before a buyer can purchase your license, they have to apply through the ABC in their state, similar to if they were applying for a new license. Working with a broker can match you with the right buyer.


Selling a liquor license can be an overwhelming process, but having all the information based on your geographical location and options can help make the process streamlined and simple. That’s why we’re here to help! Read below for all the details on liquor license prices, the value of a liquor license, liquor license renewal, and more logistical questions behind the sale.


Liquor License Price


The price of a liquor license varies wildly depending on a lot of factors, including what state you or your business is located in, the kind of license your business requires, and even how many liquor licenses are available in your geographic location. The average cost of a liquor license can run from several hundred dollars to several thousand, but each state has specific rules regarding the sale of alcohol, including beer and wine, that could affect pricing.

The price of a liquor license depends on supply and demand. If you purchase a liquor license from a business that is closing or going out of business, you apply with your state’s ABC as if you were applying for a new license, which may also include a liquor license transfer fee.


Value of Liquor License


Here’s the tricky thing about a liquor license: because the value of a liquor license changes as the market charges, there’s no simple, set price. It depends on the supply and demand in your state or region. For example, depending on where the market is, a liquor license could run between $75,000 and $80,000 in Pittsburgh, or between $12,000 and $400,000 in California at the same time.

In many states or regions, there is a quota on the amount of liquor licenses a city can issue based on population. If there are multiple buyers for licenses, the price will rise, but if the demand is slower, the price will drop.

Some things to keep in mind when assessing the value of your liquor license are whether it is a Class C, a Tavern, or another class or type of license, where the license is located, and whether the license is transferable to a new location. In some states, the ABC may have a list of available licenses, which can help you assess the value of your license based on the market. A liquor license broker or company can help you determine the worth of your liquor license, as well as connect you with credible buyers.


Can I Sell My Liquor License If I Owe Taxes?


While specifics depend on your state, the ABC can refuse to transfer a liquor license if the license owner is delinquent on their taxes. Alcohol beverage licenses can be refused to any person who owes delinquent state taxes, and in order to help the sale of your liquor license go smoothly, you should ensure you are up-to-date on all tax payments and in good standing.


Liquor License Renewal


Liquor licenses have to be renewed yearly, which sometimes requires a liquor license renewal fee. When buying an existing liquor license, in addition to requesting a transfer of ownership through your state’s ABC, in many cases, if the license is expiring in less than four months, the owner of the license must file the renewal application. In most cases, the owner of the liquor license will receive a notice anywhere from thirty to ninety days ahead of the liquor license’s expiration date, offering plenty of time to get your renewal application in.

While the steps of buying a liquor license are similar whether you’re purchasing a new license or an existing one, you can apply for a temporary permit that allows you to continue operation while your application is processed.

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