We pride ourselves on having all your bases covered for a great transaction in the shortest amount of time. After over 1500+ transactions we’ve learned a thing or two. We know one person is not able to provide the attention to detail and everything else that’s involved – like our Team of 8 can.

Learn more about why you should hire a team below.

 

 

How Long Does It Take to Get a Liquor License?

 

The process of applying for and obtaining a liquor license for your bar or restaurant varies from 90 days to five or six months, depending on your state. The timing is dependent on a variety of factors including but not limited to:

 

• Additional licensing requirements as determined by state laws (such as zoning permits)

• Liquor license availability in your state

• Failure to supply necessary documentation upon time of application submission

• Objections towards your liquor license from local community members

• Existing felony convictions regarding license applicant(s)

 

In some states, it is even required by law that any business looking to acquire a liquor license cannot be granted the license for a minimum of thirty days after filing, regardless of how prepared you are and how quickly your liquor license application is processed.

 

The best way to ensure that you are as prepared as possible for the liquor license application process is to research which class of liquor license you will need, as well as liquor license availability in your area. If your state has a license quota and it has been reached, then you may not be able to receive your license right away, or may have to purchase it from an existing vendor of beer, wine, and/or hard liquors in your area.

 

Licenses available for purchase include beer and wine licenses,  retail licenses, restaurant licenses, otherwise known as “all-liquor licenses,” and more.  

 

Some towns and cities may be “dry” or “zoned,” and thus prohibit the selling of alcoholic beverages of any kind. Be sure that the location of your business does not fall under that category.

 

The Process of Acquiring a Liquor License

 

Understanding your local government’s role in the distribution of liquor licences, as well as being able to identify the liquor license authority in your state/county who will be reviewing your application and proposal, will contribute to a potentially shorter wait as a license recipient.

 

Reviewing liquor license availability in your area.

 

Each state in the U.S. has its own Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), which you can consult with to determine local liquor license availability. Depending upon a state’s population, only a set amount of liquor licenses may be issued per capita. Visiting or getting in contact with the ABC in your state will give you a clear idea of how many licenses—and which types—are available for purchase at the time of your application submission.

 

If your area has already reached its license quota or is near that threshold, you may find yourself paying a larger sum of money to obtain that harder-to-get license. In states without quotas, a liquor license can cost a few hundred dollars, but in states with more strict liquor laws—such as Utah, which only allows one new liquor license per 5,000 residents—a liquor license could run into the thousands or even top $1 million.

 

You may also find yourself in need of a liquor license broker in order to purchase a restaurant license, beer and wine license, or tavern license from another business that already owns the class of license you need.

 

How to search for and acquire a liquor license.

 

Once you are well-informed about your license class, availability, and local laws regarding alcoholic beverages, it is time to determine the best way to acquire your liquor license.

 

Generally, applying for a quota or new license is more expensive than obtaining an application in a state with more lax liquor laws, or an application for the transfer of a pre-existing license. Bars, restaurants, and liquor stores in your area could be good businesses to purchase a license from.

 

Your state’s ABC likely also has resources regarding available licenses for sale, and can assist you in connecting with the appropriate vendor. Liquor License Advisor can help guide your choices as well, keeping in mind the alcoholic beverage and sales market in your village, town, city or county.

 

The process of applying for an existing license requires much of same documentation as the application for a new liquor license. Documentation you may be asked to provide in your state include:

 

• Alcohol tax permit or sales tax form

• Business License

• Certificate of incorporation

• Employee Identification Number

• Health permit

• Zoning permit

 

Most license applications also require a detailed description of the type of business you own. Writing and reviewing this information will also better inform your specific liquor license needs.

 

Making an offer on an existing liquor license.

 

When your state has reached its liquor license quota, is it likely that you will need to get in contact with a business in your town that already owns the license you need. In this case, you will either need to match the asking price of that business for a transferral of their license, or need to make an offer on the liquor license.

 

Your geographical location, as well as the competitiveness of your town or county’s liquor vending, will likely affect both the vendor’s asking price and your offering price. States reaching their quota, or states that have multiple transferrable liquor licenses available, may have more expensive rates. License transfers can cost anywhere from  $2,500 to $250,000. Liquor license advisors can offer guidance on how to best obtain an alcoholic license from another business.

 

Understanding your state’s ABC  local liquor license authority.

 

The structure of liquor license authority in the United States differs by individual state. Each state has its own Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), which regulates beverage sales. A state’s ABC has jurisdiction over regional sales, importing, and manufacturing of alcohol; this includes withholding licensing where necessary.

 

Your state is legally entitled to regulate alcohol sale. For some states, these local laws are even more so restrictive than what is expected on a federal level. Even so, is it expected that in order to successfully close a liquor license you abide by both local liquor license authority and state laws.

 

In addition to following expectations of your state’s ABC, in some regions liquor licenses are granted by both a city and that city’s state licensing authorities. Some city councils have appointed boards just for the monitoring and reviewing of liquor license applications.

 

These governing bodies may be part of a city or state’s:

• Licensing Department

• Department of Commerce

• Department of Revenue

 

You will be expected to abide by local liquor laws, in addition to both the standard national and state regulations. Keep everyone happy, and your customers will be happy too.

 

How to receive liquor license state approval.

 

Many states see ownership of a liquor license as a privilege, not a right. Once you have completed your application and submitted all necessary documentation and information regarding your liquor license application, it is then up for review by the state’s ABC and the local committee.

 

In addition to review by the committee, some communities offer an opportunity for other institutions—such as schools or places of worship—to submit an objection or protest to your application if they feel that it is not appropriate for you to hold a liquor license. Other considerations such as felonies and criminal records of applicants are also held under consideration and can affect the state approval of a licence.

 

Once your application has been processed and barring any objections, the local committee will likely request a background check for all persons involved with your application. In addition, your business may be required to inform local authorities and governing bodies of this submission, and you will need to prominently display in a storefront window notice that you have applied for a liquor license. Needs for notice include if the building your business is located in has yet to have obtained a liquor license.

 

Following the announcement of your application, you may be asked to host an inspection at the address of your bar, restaurant, or liquor store, as to ensure that your business functions in compliance with the information you have supplied in your application. Furthermore, you maybe asked to present and prove your case of license issuance to local liquor license authority.  

 

On average, local liquor license authority will take five to six months to respond to your application request with a confirmation or rejection. If within this time you pass the aforementioned inspection and your application is in order, state liquor license authority will grant a temporary liquor license.

 

Issuance and closing of your liquor license.

 

Once your liquor license application has been reviewed and processed, it can take between three months to one year for your business to receive its official liquor license, depending upon your ability to address local legislative needs and supply the necessary documentation and background checks for the class of liquor license for which you’ve applied.

 

Provisions to a liquor license might include the times at which you may be able to sell alcohol. Weekends, federal holidays, and daylights saving time may be included as days under which the jurisdiction of your liquor license would not fall.

 

If all goes as expected, you will be supplied with a “Closing Form for New License or License Sale” document by your state, which will verify that all the information you supplied in your application process is true and accurate and acknowledge that you are the individual(s) purchasing said liquor license.

 

Your license may be revoked if after receiving a business liquor license of any class, business behavior fails to comply with federal, state, and local law. Keep everything above board and the drinks will keep flowing!

 

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.

 

What Type of Liquor License Do I Need for My Business or Venue?

 

Every business, venue, or establishment that plans to sell alcoholic beverages must have a liquor license to operate legally. Fortunately, there is a liquor license suited to every operation imaginable, from a large restaurant to a small café to a nightclub. The specifics of each liquor license will vary by state, county, and municipality, and for that reason, you should check with your local Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) about the ins and outs of liquor licenses in your area. In some states, the different licenses are classified by numbers, not just names, so make sure to do your research. For example, in California, a Restaurant/All Liquor/Full Liquor License is a Type 47, but in Massachusetts, it is referred to as a Section 12 On-Premise License.

That being said, here is some general information about some of the most commonly requested liquor licenses around the country.

Liquor licenses are usually classified by three factors:

• The type of alcoholic beverage sold (beer, wine, spirits, liquor)

• The venue where the alcoholic beverage is sold (restaurant, nightclub, hotel, grocery store, etc.)

• The way that the alcoholic beverage is sold (packaged, poured)

 

Restaurant/All Liquor/Full Liquor License

 

The restaurant liquor license, sometimes known as the all-liquor license or the full-liquor license, is for restaurants that want to sell all types of alcoholic beverages, including beer, spirits, wine, and liquor. Restaurant liquor licenses come in on-premise and off-premise varieties. On-premise liquor licenses allow you to sell poured alcohol on the premises of your restaurant. With an off-premise liquor license, you can sell alcoholic beverages that can be removed from the premises of your restaurant in a travel container or in packaged forms for sale.

To get this license, you have to prove that at least 50% of your restaurant’s total sales are from food and non-alcoholic beverages. Restaurant liquor licenses can be difficult to obtain and expensive, but they are often extremely lucrative to business owners.

 

Beer and Wine Liquor License

The beer and wine liquor permits the sale of those two types of alcohol beverages but does not permit the sale of spirits or hard liquor. The beer and wine liquor license allows restaurants to sell some alcoholic beverages on their premises without going through the hassle or expense of getting an all-liquor license.

This license may require you to prove that at least 50% of your restaurant’s total sales are from food and non-alcoholic beverages. If you’re looking for an option that’s cheaper and easier than the all-liquor license, the beer and wine license may be a good option for your restaurant.

 

Liquor Store License/Retail License

With a liquor store license, sometimes known as a retail license, you can sell packaged alcoholic beverages for consumption off the premises of your business. Liquor store licenses come in different varieties that allow you to sell different kinds of alcoholic beverages. Some liquor store licenses only allow the sale of liquor and wine, while others allow the sale of beers and spirits as well.

Your local ABC will have the specifics of the liquor store license options available in your area. This off-premise license allows grocery stores, convenience stores, liquor stores, and other establishments to sell packaged liquor.

 

Brewery License

A brewery license allows businesses to brew their own alcoholic beverages and offer them for sale. Variations of this license place restrictions on the quantity of liquor that the business can brew and sell each year as well as the size of the containers it uses to sell the liquor. Often, the licensed brewery is associated and adjacent to a restaurant, hotel, or other venue. The brewery license can allow for consumption of alcoholic beverages on the premises of the venue and off the premises of the venue.

 

 

Tavern License

A tavern license allows establishments like nightclubs, lounges, pubs, and of course, taverns, to sell alcoholic beverages as their primary source of business. This license may only permit the sale of beer and wine, or it may also permit the sale of liquor and spirits. To get a tavern license, your establishment must have suitable kitchen facilities and sell substantial food that can serve as a meal.

The tavern license is an on-premise license, which means it only permits alcoholic beverage consumption on the premises of your venue. The tavern license is often accompanied by licenses that permit dancing, entertainment, extended hours, and outdoor service, which allows alcoholic beverages to be consumed in an outdoor space associated with the establishment that has a tavern permit. A venue with a tavern license may not allow patrons under the age of 21 without the presence of a legal guardian.

 

Hotel License

A hotel license is an on-premise license that allows the sale of alcoholic beverages at a hotel, motel, or similar lodging. With this license, guests of the hotel or motel can consume alcoholic beverages throughout the premises, in restaurants, bars, common areas, and private rooms. This license may only permit the sale of beer and wine, but in some cases, it also permits the sale of liquor and spirits. Much like the tavern license, the hotel license requires suitable kitchen facilities on the premises that can prepare substantial food for guests.

 

Club License

Not to be confused with a license for a nightclub, the club license allows country clubs, veterans clubs, service clubs, fraternal clubs, and other not-for-profit clubs to sell alcoholic beverages, which may include beer, wine, liquor, and spirits. Like the tavern license and the hotel license, the establishment for which the club has a license must have suitable kitchen facilities to feed substantial food to its patrons.

 

Eating Place License

The eating place license is suited for smaller dining establishments that wish to sell beer alongside the food items on their menu. These smaller dining establishments may also sell small quantities of other alcoholic beverages. The eating place license is a good option for a dining establishment that does not have a large budget.

 

What is a Liquor License and What Does It Do?

 

So, you think you might need a liquor license. Lucky for you, that’s our speciality. We can  break down everything you need to know about liquor licenses, who needs one, and the application and licensing processes.

Let’s start with the basics: A liquor license is a permit to sell alcohol and alcoholic beverages. If your business has a hand in the distribution, manufacturing, or sale of alcohol, you need a liquor license. That includes businesses from restaurants and bars to hotels, private clubs, or other establishments. And that’s good news: According to data by BevSpot, liquor sales can be responsible for some of the largest profit margins on a menu, depending on the type of liquor—between 76% and 82%!

 

What does a liquor license do? Liquor licenses regulate:

 

• Which businesses are allowed to sell alcohol

• When and where they can sell alcohol

• How much can be sold at one time

• How much businesses can charge for alcohol

• The type of alcoholic beverages that can be sold

• To whom alcohol can be sold

• Which businesses are permitted to manufacture and distribute alcohol

 

Liquor licensing laws also specify that wholesale vendors of wine, liquor, and beer can’t sell to establishments without a liquor license.

 

What Kind of License Do You Need?

 

An important  thing to keep in mind is that every state has its own rules about the sale, distribution, and consumption of alcohol and different requirements about liquor license applications and the licensing process. These rules are regulated by each state’s  Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) or a division by a similar name. Individual counties and cities may also have their own related departments.

 

Futhermore,  there are different types of liquor licenses and they vary by state. The ABC in your state will be able to give you the lowdown on what is required for businesses to file a liquor license application and the application process.

 

 

Need to know which liquor license is right for you? Your type of license will depend on a couple things:

 

• What kind of establishment you have

• The kind of alcohol you sell and what time of day  you sell it

• Whether you’re planning to let customers roll BYOB-style or serving and selling alcohol

• Where drinking occurs

 

 

The two major types of licenses are an on-premise, where the liquor or alcoholic beverages you sell will be consumed on the premises, like a bar or restaurant. The other is an off-premise, which you need if you’re planning to have the liquor you sell be consumed off the premises, like a grocery store or drug store, or even a liquor store. There might be different qualifications for a catering company or special events.

 

In some states, you’ll be applying for a specific class of license. The most common classes of liquor licenses include a tavern license, which is for restaurants that serve both alcohol and food, but liquor only makes up about 50% of their sales; a beer and wine license, where you can only sell “soft” liquors but not hard liquor, like spirits; or a restaurant license, where the license could specify that only a certain percentage of earnings can come from the alcohol sales.

 

What Does a Liquor License Application Require?

 

Some states have a limited number of liquor licenses, so you should check availability for your state, county, or city level depending on where you’re located. But no worries—even if your county technically has no new liquor licenses available, businesses in your area could be interested in selling their licenses. Your state’s ABC  might track that information, too.

For a liquor license application, you’ll need business documents in place before you enter the application process, like employer identification numbers, zoning permits, building permits, health permits, signage permits, or leases. You’ll file your application with your state’s ABC, so in addition to the forms your local authority or state government requires, you might be required to pay a processing fee, complete a background check, and submit a financial verification sheet, a copy of a food handler’s permit or license, a lease, or a certificate of good standing from the Secretary of State.

Because states only want to provide responsible business owners with liquor licenses, offering up detailed information on your ownership and business finances is part of the deal—in some states, that even includes undergoing and passing different inspections from city departments. Since we know getting a liquor license is a lengthy process, we suggest getting as much together as you can ahead of time!

 

How Long Does a Liquor License Application Take?

 

Liquor license application processing can take a while—it varies based on state and license type, but typically it takes 90 days to five or six months.  Starting the process with plenty of buffer time between applying for a liquor license and your opening is crucial. The costs of a liquor license—once all aspects of the application process are added up—can range from several hundred dollars to millions of dollars depending on your state liquor laws, type of liquor, and type of license.

 

You’re also required to renew your liquor license annually, which might involve paying a renewal fee. What is important is knowing the cost and timeline upfront so you can feel confident and informed as you take this next step with your business. Research for the win!

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