Liquor License 101

In the U.S., a liquor license is required and issued for bars, nightclubs and taverns as well as restaurants and stores selling alcoholic beverages. Each state has slightly different laws and requirements for getting a liquor license. If you attempt to sell or distribute alcohol without a current liquor license, you could be facing steep fines and penalties or see your doors close until the matter is handled within your state. Here are some tips and guidelines for getting your liquor license.


Types of Liquor License


There are three main types of liquor licenses for bars or restaurants to obtain: Restaurant Liquor License, Tavern Liquor License, Beer and Wine Liquor License. Your type of establishment will determine what type of liquor license you need.


If you run a restaurant that will sell alcoholic beverages, you will get the Restaurant Liquor License. This is the most commonly used type of license. The Tavern Liquor License is for restaurants that have about half of their sales coming from liquor sales. The Beer and Wine Liquor license is only for beer and wine sales and doesn’t include spirits. You can also get a general liquor license for bars that don’t serve food. Additionally, there are Retail Liquor Licenses and even Special Event Liquor Licenses required in some states.


Requirements for a Liquor License


All states have their own specific requirements and qualifications to be approved for a liquor license. Some of the common requirements include the owner and employees of the establishment being of legal drinking age, having a seller’s permit, and living in the city for a certain period of time (60-90 days).  Having a clean background check and no criminal activity on your record are other requirements. In addition, some locations require the completion of a responsible alcohol server’s training course.


Applying For and Receiving a Liquor License


After meeting the qualifications, you will need to go through the application process. This begins with an application for a liquor license and submitting documentation such as your residence, business and seller’s license, completion of the training course and other requirements your city and state has. Some cities require you to have the application in your local newspaper which is then approved by your community. Most locations require paying a fee for the liquor license as well. Keep in mind if you’re approved, you should also maintain the license which means renewing it and submitting documentation after a year. It might be revoked if you’re caught selling alcohol to minors, having noise complaints or other issues with the community.


Liquor Laws in Various States


Before applying for the license, you should read about the liquor laws in your state. The liquor control commission in your city and state will have a list of rules. They often include where the liquor can be served, when it can be served, required containers, how much to serve at one time, who it is served to, not being able to discount it and various other laws.


As long as you follow the rules and laws, you can meet the qualifications and get your liquor license. Aside from the license, protect your bar or tavern with business insurance, including property and general liability insurance.