If you want to sell liquor in your bar or restaurant, you need to get a liquor license. Some people think that the process only involves filling an online application form and paying a fee: this could not be further from the truth.

In some instances, you may find that there are no more licenses left because your county regulates number given out. Knowing the exact price of a liquor license is difficult because it varies depending on the state or county. Even your locale has its own licensing requirements.

The cost of a liquor license varies depending on the following:

  • Whether drinking will happen on or off the premises
  • Whether you sell on Sundays or not – some states charge extra for this
  • What type of establishment you are
  • Which type of alcohol you sell
  • Which hours you sell
Things to know before applying for a license

Before you start the process of obtaining a liquor license, you should know the following:

  • There is no guarantee that there will be any available licenses – they are highly regulated, meaning that each county has a quota, which may already be maxed out. More restrictions include proximity to churches, schools, and other establishments.
  • Your proposed establishment site may not be zoned for it
  • BYOB businesses or restaurants need to be licensed – some people think that BYOB businesses do not need liquor licenses. Although they may need a different class of license, they still need one.
  • Applications take 5-6 months to process – do you want your restaurant to open its doors next year? You need to apply for a liquor license in advance. You have to factor in a buffer of 5-6 months between your application date and your opening date.
  • Licensing may involve people outside your liquor business – the state may require a background check from landlords and other parties, depending on how your lease is arranged. Any local business that is near yours has the right to file an objection.

Contact the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board in your state (ABC)

The first step is to contact your state’s ABC. They are a good first point of contact as they help in figuring out several things, including:

  • Which licenses you need and the estimated cost – the whole point of your ABC board is to know what your liquor business needs to be properly licensed.
  • If permits are available – many counties have very few licenses left, if any. The ABC board will tell you what the limitations in your county are and whether licenses are still available.
  • If other businesses in your area want to sell their liquor licenses – you can always get a license from another business if your county has reached its quota. Your state’s ABC will let you know if there is a business looking to sell its license.
Pre-application prep

Make sure that all your other licenses and permits are ready before you apply for a liquor license: sales tax permit, signage permit, music license, building permit, among others. You need to have all your ducks in a row to ensure that your liquor license application is processed on time. Have you made all your tax payments? The state will not look favorably at your liquor application if you have not.

File your application

When applying for your TABC permits, you need to include a processing fee, background check forms, lease agreement, etc. Once you send the application, it will take some time for it to be approved.

This post was written by Wendy Dessler. Wendy is a super-connector with OutreachMama who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing and focuses her efforts on developing customized blogger outreach plans depending on the industry and competition.

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