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How to Get a Liquor License

By Andrew Lu | Last updated on

If you plan on opening a bar, club, restaurant, or even a convenience store that sells alcohol, you're likely going to need to know how to get a liquor license.

The administration of liquor licenses is typically governed by local agencies like municipalities, cities, counties, etc. So the laws and requirements will vary greatly even among jurisdictions in the same state.

Still, there are some general things you should know about getting a liquor license, as written by

  1. What type of liquor license do I need? There are usually different liquor licenses available for every business type. Do you want to open a restaurant or bar? Then you need to know the qualifications for each. Oftentimes, to be considered a restaurant, only a certain percentage of your sales may be for alcohol. Other popular types of liquor licenses include beer and wine licenses, brewing licenses, and retail licenses. Each of these have different requirements and restrictions and you may want to work with an attorney experienced with liquor licenses in figuring out which you need.
  2. Where do I get a liquor license? There may be different ways to receive a liquor license. Generally, you can apply directly to the local government agency and receive the license upon payment of a fee. However, the number of liquor licenses handed out may be restricted.You may even need to purchase a liquor license from another business (such as taking over the business) or through a liquor license broker, writes Depending upon where you want to open your business, you may need to spend tens of thousands of dollars to get your license.
  3. How do I maintain my liquor license? Now that you've secured a liquor license, the last thing you will want is to lose it. Oftentimes, liquor licenses are valid for up to one year. While licenses are normally automatically renewed, the governing body may deny the renewal or take a closer look at your business if there are a lot of complaints or if you are otherwise not in good standing.

You can't just open a business and start serving alcohol. Instead, you'll generally need permission from your city or town to operate a business that will serve alcohol. To ensure that the process to receive such a license is run smoothly, you should contact an experienced business attorney.

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