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Liquor License Cost

Updated: November 13, 2023
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How much does a liquor license cost? Many restaurant and bar owners who need a liquor license ask this question. Let’s explore this question and review general information about liquor licenses and the application process.

How Much Does a Liquor License Cost?

A liquor license is a permit regulated by the government that allows restaurants, bars, liquor stores, and other establishments to sell alcohol legally. They are typically issued by a state’s alcohol control agency or a similar regulatory body. Since, liquor licenses are state-regulated, each state has its own rules, regulations, and costs for the liquor license application process.

Liquor licenses will regulate:

  • Where alcohol can be served
  • The amount that can be served
  • The cost of alcohol
  • Types of containers alcohol can be served in
  • Times alcohol can be served
  • How and when alcohol can leave the premises

There are several different types of liquor licenses available, including beer and wine licenses, restaurant licenses, bar licenses, and in some states, server licenses. The type of license you require will depend on your business and how it is run.

A business cannot legally sell or distribute alcohol without a liquor license making these licenses vital to a business’s survival. Many restaurant and bar owners will hire a small business lawyer to prepare, review, and file the application to ensure that no mistakes are made.

Based on ContractsCounsel’s marketplace data, the average cost of a liquor license is $3,000.

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How to Get a Liquor License

Applying and being approved for a liquor license is a challenging process and it is difficult to navigate if you aren’t familiar with your state laws and regulations.

  1. Step #1: Research. Before applying for a liquor license, you need to research your state and local government’s laws and regulations. Sometimes individual counties have additional requirements on top of state laws. You will also need to determine the type of liquor license your business needs.
  2. Step #2: Complete and file the application. After ensuring that your business has met all requirements for a liquor license, you can apply for a liquor license with your local alcohol control agency. There will be an application, a filing fee, and requirements for supporting documentation about your business.
  3. Step #3: Additional business permits. Depending on your state and county laws, you may need additional business permits to be eligible for a liquor license. These additional permits may include:
    • Business license
    • Building and zoning permits
    • Health permit
    • Sales tax permit
  4. Step #4: Approval. Approval for a liquor license can take up to six months. However, the time it takes can vary significantly depending on state and local regulations, as well as the complexity of the application and potential issues that may arise. If approved, you will be required to pay a license fee. Depending on your state, this fee can range from around $300 up to $450,000.
  5. Step #5: Renewal. Liquor licenses aren’t indefinite, and your license will need to be renewed usually every 1-3 years depending on your state and local requirements. Some states may require annual renewals, while others may have longer renewal periods. While you have a liquor license, you must also obey all liquor laws and regulations otherwise your liquor license can be revoked.

Who Needs a Liquor License?

Liquor licenses are required for any business to sell or distribute alcohol. Therefore, any business like a bar or restaurant that plans to serve or sell alcohol on its premises will have a valid liquor license.

Examples of Liquor License Projects

Liquor License Application Preparation

An application must be completed and submitted to your local alcohol control agency to obtain a liquor license. The application usually requires supporting documents like business licenses, permits, and information about the company.

The liquor license application can be expensive, and mistakes can be costly or delay the already lengthy process. However, an experienced small business lawyer can assist in collecting all the required documents and completing the application correctly.

Liquor License Filing

Some states have online applications, while others only accept mailed-in paper applications. Your attorney will know the best way to file the application in your state and the fees associated with the filing process.

Liquor License Application Cost

If you hire a lawyer to assist in preparing a liquor license application, you will incur legal fees based on how much time the lawyer spends working on your case. Applications can be lengthy and require a lot of detailed information, so it could take even an experienced attorney several hours to complete.

ContractsCounsel’s marketplace data shows the average liquor license application cost to be $3,000 across all states.

Liquor License Filing Cost

The filing fee and license fee are where you will incur the most expenses when applying for a liquor license. Total costs will vary based on your state and the type of permit you have applied for. A full-service liquor license can range from $100 to over $14,000, but the average cost is around $1500.

Depending on your state's requirements for a liquor license, you may also have fees for additional permits to be eligible for a liquor license.

How Do Lawyers Charge for a Liquor License?

Small business lawyers typically charge one of two ways to prepare and file an application for a liquor license: hourly rate or flat fee rate.

Hourly Rates for Liquor Licenses

An hourly fee structure means the attorney charges a set rate for an hour of work. They will bill the client for the time spent on the project. Time will include work on the project, consultations, and communications. The client will be responsible for all filing fees that the state charges.

ContractsCounsel’s marketplace data shows the average hourly rate for a small business lawyer range from $200 - $350 per hour.

Flat Fee Rates for Liquor Licenses

Flat fee rates are becoming more popular for lawyers hired to complete specific tasks. Experienced lawyers know how many hours different projects will require to quote clients a flat rate fee to be paid upfront.

ContractsCounsel’s marketplace data shows the average flat fee rate for liquor license projects to be $3,000.

State Fees for Liquor Licenses

Each state has its own fees for liquor licenses, including the application fee, the license fee, and renewal fees. These fees will be in addition to any legal costs you may incur when hiring a lawyer to assist you with a liquor license application.

Get Help with a Liquor License

Do you need help with a liquor license project? If so, post a project in ContractsCounsel’s marketplace to receive flat fee bids from contract lawyers to handle your project. All lawyers on the ContractsCounsel’s platform are vetted by our team to make sure you are provided with top tier service.

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