ContractsCounsel Logo
Home Types of Contracts Liquor License

Jump to Section

What Is a Liquor License?

A liquor license is a permit issued by the government that allows restaurants, bars, liquor stores, and other establishments to sell alcoholic beverages. Liquor licenses are regulated separately by each state, and each state has its own rules and regulations.

Some rules and regulations pertaining to the sale of alcohol that states will regulate include:

  • 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

Types of Liquor Licenses

Most states have several types of liquor licenses available for different purposes. It is common to see the following categories for liquor licenses:

  • Beer and Wine License: This license allows the establishment to sell beers and wines but not strong alcohol like liquor. This is a common license to have because it is generally easier and less expensive to obtain.
  • Restaurant Liquor License: This license is also called a general liquor license and allows the establishment to serve all types of alcohol. States generally limit these licenses, and they can be difficult to obtain.
  • Bar Liquor License: Sometimes called a Tavern liquor license, this is for businesses whose alcohol sales are more than 50% of their total sales. This type of license varies by state and jurisdiction.
  • Server License: Some states require those who will be serving alcohol to have their own employee permit to administer alcohol.

On-Licenses vs. Off-Licenses

Liquor licenses will differ for establishments that serve alcohol to be consumed onsite, like a bar or restaurant from establishments like liquor stores that sell alcohol to be consumed off-premises.

A business like a brewery that sells alcohol for both onsite and offsite consumption may be required to have both license types.

Liquor licenses are considered a privilege, and they ensure that establishments selling alcohol comply with all the local laws and regulations surrounding the sales of alcohol.

Click here for more information about liquor licenses.

How To Get a Liquor License

Obtaining a liquor license can sometimes be difficult, and most states limit the number of available liquor licenses. Once you have determined what type of liquor license your establishment requires, follow these steps to get a liquor license.

Step #1: Research

Before applying for a liquor license, you should research your state and local government’s laws and regulations on liquor licenses. Your county or city may have additional requirements on top of your state’s rules. You can find out everything you need to know about your area’s liquor license requirements by contacting your state’s Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) board.

The ABC board can also inform you whether a license is currently available and help guide you on the type of license you need.

Step #2: Apply

After researching laws and ensuring that your business has met all requirements, you can apply for a liquor license with your local alcohol control agency. You will need to submit all required documentation along with the processing fee.

Step #3: Additional business permits

Depending on your state and jurisdiction, you may be required to obtain additional business permits before being issued a liquor license. These additional permits may include:

  • Business license
  • Building and zoning permits
  • Health permit
  • Sales tax permit

Step #4: Defend your proposal

Some jurisdictions allow members of the community to protest the issuance of liquor licenses. If a member of your community disagrees with your proposal to sell alcohol, you may have to defend yourself at a public hearing.

Step #5: Approval

The process of being approved for a liquor license can take up to six months. 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.

Step #6: Renewal

You will need to renew your license per your state and local laws, usually between every 1-3 years. You must also obey all liquor laws and regulations while you hold a liquor license. If you break any liquor laws, your license can be revoked.

Meet some lawyers on our platform

Valerie L.

77 projects on CC
CC verified
View Profile

Danny J.

11 projects on CC
CC verified
View Profile

Forest H.

221 projects on CC
CC verified
View Profile

Linda W.

10 projects on CC
CC verified
View Profile

Liquor License Fees & Governing Agencies – State-by-State

Each state regulates liquor licenses. The governing agency, application process, and license fee will vary depending on where you live.

Alabama. Liquor licenses in Alabama are regulated by the ABC licensing division in each county. The cost of a liquor license ranges from $100 to $1,000 , depending on the license type.

Alaska. The liquor license process in Alaska is longer than in most states. Approvals need to come from several agencies, including the Alaska ABC board. Application fees range from $48 to $500 , while the license fees range from $200 to $2,500 .

Arizona. There are over 20 different types of licenses in Arizona. Most license types are regulated by quotas purchased through a broker or awarded by a lottery. The cost is between $100 and $2,000 .

Arkansas. The ABC Division of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration regulates liquor licenses. The cost of the licenses ranges from $100 to $3,000 , depending on which one of the six available licenses you are requesting.

California. Liquor licenses in California can be applied for with the local ABC office. Some counties have different regulations. License costs range from $1,000 to $16,000 .

Colorado. The Colorado Department of Revenue issues liquor licenses in Colorado. You can apply for your license online, and you will be subject to both local fees ranging from $22 to $1,000 and state fees ranging from $337 to $1,020 .

Connecticut. Connecticut has more than 20 types of liquor license permits. The Department of Consumer Protection issues licenses. Fees cost between $20 and $2,650 .

Delaware. The Delaware liquor licensing system is online and controlled by the Office of ABC Commissioner. Liquor licenses in Delaware range from $150 to around $2,000 .

Florida. In Florida, liquor licenses are regulated by the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco. The population of the county determines costs for licenses in Florida.

Georgia. Georgia requires those looking to sell alcohol to obtain both a local license and state license through the Georgia Department of Revenue. You must have your local license before applying for a state license.

Hawaii. Each county controls liquor licenses in Hawaii, and prices for licenses vary.

Idaho. It is difficult to obtain a liquor license in Idaho due to the quota system in place. Idaho ABC controls liquor licenses and requires fingerprint cards, background check fees, and other documents not usually required by other states.

Illinois. Illinois, like Georgia, also requires establishments to obtain both local and state licenses through the Illinois Liquor Control Commission. State fees are

Indiana. Indiana uses a population-based quota for liquor licenses controlled by the state Alcohol and Tobacco Commission.

Iowa. Getting a liquor license in Iowa is done entirely online through the Alcoholic Beverages Division. There is a high demand for licenses, so business owners should give plenty of time for their applications.

Kansas. The Kansas Department of Revenue’s ABC accepts applications for liquor licenses online.

Kentucky. Kentucky has the option of half-year licenses or full-year licenses. All liquor licenses can be applied for online. Depending on the license type and term, fees range from $30 to over $7,000 .

Louisiana. The ATC of Louisiana requires all applications and fees for liquor licenses to be mailed. Prices for licenses range from $120 to $345 .

Maine. The liquor licenses in Maine are controlled by the Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages & Lottery Operations. Applications are also reviewed locally as well.

Maryland. In Maryland, liquor licenses are controlled by the local government, and fees vary depending on county and license type.

Massachusetts. The Massachusetts State Treasury controls the state’s ABC commission. Applications require a $200 processing fee , and an advertised public hearing is required to approve or deny applications.

Michigan. Michigan is another state that issues liquor licenses based on quotas. Several types of licenses are available, all controlled by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

Minnesota. Although licenses are issued locally in Minnesota, they are all controlled by the Alcohol and Gambling Division. Fees vary by area and range from $100 to over $2000 .

Mississippi. Of Mississippi’s 82 counties, 34 are completely dry counties, while others have stringent alcohol regulations. Liquor licenses can cost upwards of $9,000 and are controlled by the state’s ABC.

Missouri. Missouri has three ATC offices as part of the Public Safety division that process liquor licenses. Costs range from $50 to $300 depending on the type of alcohol that will be sold.

Montana. Applications for liquor licenses in Montana are filled out online at the Department of Revenue website. Fees are between $400 and $800 , with an additional $400 processing fee for new licenses.

Nebraska. In Nebraska, liquor license applications cost $400 and are submitted to the state’s Liquor Control Commission.

Nevada. Nevada liquor licenses are issued by county or city. Fees vary by license type but generally cost between $75 and $550 .

New Hampshire. New Hampshire requires those seeking a liquor license first to submit a request for an application. They also require in-person appointments with the Liquor Commission Division of Enforcement.

New Jersey. Liquor licenses are obtained through the ABC Division at the Office of the Attorney General. New Jersey charges a $200 fee , and the application can be completed online.

New Mexico. New Mexico is another state with liquor license quotas managed by the state ABC. Licenses can be purchased or leased by a liquor license attorney or broker.

New York. In New York, there are several available liquor licenses with various requirements. The State Liquor Authority requires businesses to notify local authorities when applying. Fees for the license vary by license type.

North Carolina. North Carolina has a state quota of 50,000 total liquor permits in specific jurisdictions. The permit fee is $1,000 .

North Dakota. The Office of The Attorney General handles liquor license applications in this state. North Dakota requires both local and state licenses, with the local license having to be obtained first.

Ohio. In Ohio, the Department of Commerce requires that the public be notified when a liquor license application is filed. This allows the public to object.

Oklahoma. License fees in Oklahoma are some of the least expensive in the country at just $55 . Business owners can apply for a liquor license online, in person, or by mail to the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission.

Oregon. A special liquor license commission processes applications for liquor licenses in Oregon. The fee can be up to $1,000 for a regular license; however, they offer temporary liquor licenses for $10 a day .

Pennsylvania. Applying for a liquor license in PA is done online through a special Liquor Control Board portal. Fees can range between $125 and $700 .

Rhode Island. The Department of Business Regulation issues liquor licenses in Rhode Island.

South Carolina. In South Carolina, a notice of applying for a liquor license must be posted in a local newspaper and requires a filing fee of $300 .

South Dakota. In South Dakota, liquor licenses can only be leased, which is controlled by the Department of Revenue.

Tennessee. The ABC regulates liquor licenses in Tennessee. Retailer licenses cost $850 . Licenses for bars and restaurants vary depending on the capacity of the establishment and the type of business.

Texas. The liquor license fees in Texas vary significantly from just $25 for temporary permits to over $17,000 for other types of licenses. All liquor licenses are controlled by the ABC and can be applied for online.

Utah. In Utah, the issuance of liquor licenses is controlled by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Applications need to be submitted before the 10 th of every month, and fees range from $125 to $10,000 .

Vermont. In Vermont, the Department of Liquor and Lottery Division divides liquor licenses into three classes. They range in fees from $25 to over $1,000 .

Virginia. Virginia divides their liquor licenses into three types: banquet, retail, and industry. The ABC controls licensing, and the application fee is $195 .

Washington. Liquor Licenses in Washington are issued by The Washington State Liquor & Cannabis Board. Rather than being issued as a separate document, licenses are issued as endorsements on a business license.

West Virginia. In West Virginia, liquor license fees can cost over $7,500 and are controlled by the Alcohol Beverage Control Administration.

Wisconsin. Even though Wisconsin liquor licenses are handled at the local level, they are overseen by the Department of Revenue. WI is subject to license quotas which are based on population.

Wyoming. In Wyoming, liquor licenses are regulated by both the state Liquor division and local authorities. Licenses cost between $300 and $3,000 and must be renewed every year.

For more information about each state’s liquor license laws, read this article.

ContractsCounsel Liquor License Image

Image via Pexels by ahmad

Liquor License Requirements

Each state and local government will have different requirements for a business to obtain a liquor license. Some jurisdictions require that a company have a business license, health permit, sales tax permit, and other documents before issuing a liquor license, while other jurisdictions have more relaxed requirements.

Some standard requirements you may find on your state’s application for a liquor license include:

  • EIN for tax purposes
  • Local zoning permit
  • Code compliance certificate
  • Signage permit
  • Alcohol tax permit
  • Certificate of incorporation
  • Food handlers permit
  • The current or proposed food menu
  • Floor plan
  • Building title

It is essential to research your local jurisdiction’s requirements, so you know exactly what you need to obtain a liquor license for your business.

Get Help with A Liquor License

Do you have questions about obtaining a liquor license and want to speak to an expert? Post a project today on ContractsCounsel and receive bids from business lawyers who specialize in liquor licenses.


ContractsCounsel is not a law firm, and this post should not be considered and does not contain legal advice. To ensure the information and advice in this post are correct, sufficient, and appropriate for your situation, please consult a licensed attorney. Also, using or accessing ContractsCounsel's site does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and ContractsCounsel.


Need to apply for a liquor license?

Create a free project posting
Clients Rate Lawyers 4.9 Stars
based on 11,053 reviews

Meet some of our Liquor License Lawyers

Tim E. on ContractsCounsel
View Tim
4.9 (46)
Member Since:
August 12, 2020

Tim E.

Founding Member/Attorney
Free Consultation
Cleveland, OH
10 Yrs Experience
Licensed in OH
Cleveland State University College of Law

Tim advises small businesses, entrepreneurs, and start-ups on a wide range of legal matters. He has experience with company formation and restructuring, capital and equity planning, tax planning and tax controversy, contract drafting, and employment law issues. His clients range from side gig sole proprietors to companies recognized by Inc. magazine.

Alan B. on ContractsCounsel
View Alan
5.0 (3)
Member Since:
November 25, 2023

Alan B.

Business Attorney
Free Consultation
Tulsa, OK
10 Yrs Experience
Licensed in MO, MS, OK
University of Tulsa College of Law

At Barker Law, we provide clients with expertise in contract drafting and review, outside general counsel services, negotiation, commercial litigation, and regulatory navigation. We confidently handle transactional and regulatory matters for businesses and individuals. As our feedback shows, we excel at meeting and exceeding our clients needs.

Garrett M. on ContractsCounsel
View Garrett
4.9 (6)
Member Since:
June 15, 2023

Garrett M.

Attorney
Free Consultation
Cincinnati, Ohio
4 Yrs Experience
Licensed in KY, OH
University of Cincinnati College of Law

Attorney Garrett Mayleben's practice is focused on representing small businesses and the working people that make them profitable. He represents companies in structuring and negotiating merger, acquisition, and real estate transactions; guides emerging companies through the startup phase; and consults with business owners on corporate governance matters. Garrett also practices in employment law, copyright and trademark law, and civil litigation. Though industry agnostic, Garrett has particular experience representing medical, dental, veterinary, and chiropractic practices in various business transactions, transitions, and the structuring of related management service organizations (MSOs).

Starcee R. on ContractsCounsel
View Starcee
Member Since:
November 14, 2023

Starcee R.

Managing Partner
Free Consultation
Altamonte Springs, FL
8 Yrs Experience
Licensed in FL
Stetson university

Mrs. Rivera graduated from Palmetto High School in 2009 and went on to attend Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL. After graduating from Florida State University with a B.S. degree in Criminology and a minor in Philosophy in April 2012, she went on to attend the University of Central Florida where she earned a M.S. Degree in Criminal Justice in August 2013. That same month, She started law school at Stetson University College of Law. ​ While in Law school, Mrs. Rivera participated on Stetsons #1 Trial team. In May 2016, Mrs. Rivera graduated with her law degree and in December 2016, Mrs. Rivera obtained her Masters in Law from Stetson University through its Joint J.D./LL.M degree in Advocacy program. Mrs. Rivera was a part of the first graduating class for this joint program at Stetson University. ​ As a Law student, Mrs. Rivera was a law clerk at a well-known plaintiffs employment law firm in Tampa, FL and also interned for the Honorable Judge Edward Larose of the Second District Court of Appeal where she was able to draft PCA opinions draft legal opinions that were ultimately published. Mrs. Rivera also went on to participate as a Certified Legal Intern (CLI) with the 6th Judicial Circuit Office of the Public Defender in Pinellas County, FL and an Intern for LegalAid of Manasota in Sarasota, FL. ​ After Law School, Mrs. Rivera began her legal career working as a Public Defender with the Ninth Judicial Circuit Office of the Public Defender in Orlando, FL. During her time as a Public Defender, Mrs. Rivera litigated more than 20 trials, representing both adults and juveniles accused of Misdemeanor and Felony offenses. After engaging in extensive civil, criminal and family law litigation, Mrs. Rivera decided it was time to finally open Allstarr Legal, P.A. in order to provide both affordable and quality legal representation to the people of the State of Florida. Mrs. Rivera practices throughout the entire state of Florida.

Francine L. on ContractsCounsel
View Francine
Member Since:
November 15, 2023

Francine L.

Legal Counsel
Free Consultation
New York, New York
36 Yrs Experience
Licensed in NY
Quinnipiac University School of Law

I am a multi-degreed attorney with more than 17 years of criminal trial experience and more than 15 as a general legal consultant. I'm licensed to practice in New York State.

Dimitry K. on ContractsCounsel
View Dimitry
Member Since:
November 14, 2023

Dimitry K.

Managing Partner
Free Consultation
Philadelphia
16 Yrs Experience
Licensed in NJ, PA
Rutgers School of Law-Camden

Prior to becoming an attorney, Mr. Dimitry Alexander Kaplun had been involved with many industries and professions, and helped manage, create, and advise a wide range of businesses around the world. While at Drexel University as a computer science major, he became an NASD licensed representative and was employed by Fortune 100 insurance companies, including Prudential, AIG, and NY Life, first specializing in financial investments for life and annuity products, and then expanding his expertise to mutual finds, stocks, environmental insurance, and real property. Due to his technical expertise and a clear understanding of business rules, he was soon brought on board to help assist those companies with coding their interface for the Y2K switch. Soon after switching his major to business, Mr. Kaplun worked for a telecommunication service company first in quality assurance and then as a database programmer and developer, with sole and exclusive responsibilities for a multitude of warehouses located around the continental United States. Working on-site and from the company headquarters, he was responsible for streamlining processes for internal departments while fulfilling the quickly changing needs to the company clients, most notably Verizon Wireless. Mr. Kaplun opened his practice in 2008. Prior to starting his practice, he worked as a paralegal instructor for Prism Career Institute, creating the lesson plans for the whole program and focusing his instruction on substantive and procedural laws for general practitioners. Mr. Kaplun also worked as an associate for The Law Office of Keith Owen Campbell PC, focusing on Family and Matrimonial Law, and assisted the law firm of Jeffrey Neu and Associates in securities research as well as various contact and sales agreements, mainly online reseller agreements. He currently focuses his energy on representing individuals and companies in liability insulation, contracts and business agreements, and other legal concerns that crop up in the regular operation of doing business.

Muhammad Yar L. on ContractsCounsel
View Muhammad Yar
Member Since:
November 16, 2023

Muhammad Yar L.

Business Lawyer
Free Consultation
Pakistan
6 Yrs Experience
Licensed in NY
University of London

I am Muhammad, a legal counsel, technology law advisor, and corporate and commercial law expert, licensed to practice in New York State. I graduated from University of London and Georgetown Law Center and have about 7 years of experience in corporate and commercial law. As a As a technology law advisor, I possess deep insights into SaaS agreements, master service agreements, master subscription agreements, and SaaS Agreements, among others.

Find the best lawyer for your project

Browse Lawyers Now

Business

Liquor License

Maine

Asked on May 13, 2022

Need help for a liquor license for a lounge/club

Need a liquor license asap in portland, or around. Maine.

Craig M.

Answered May 17, 2022

It is a multi-step process to obtain a liquor license in Portland, Maine. You must obtain approval from the City, after first obtaining approval from the Code Enforcement Officer, Public Services, Fire, Health Services, Treasury, and Police. You may also need to create an LLC or other business entity, register with the Secretary of State, obtain an EIN, among other things. I can assist at my normal hourly rate of $200, and would require a $5000 legal advance, payable through Contracts Counsel to assist. The fee Contracts Counsel charges is nonrefundable, otherwise, itemized invoicing will be periodically provided, and any unearned fees will be reimbursed to the client at the end of the project.

Read 1 attorney answer>
See more legal questions…

Quick, user friendly and one of the better ways I've come across to get ahold of lawyers willing to take new clients.

View Trustpilot Review

Need to apply for a liquor license?

Create a free project posting
Clients Rate Lawyers 4.9 Stars
based on 11,053 reviews
Business lawyers by top cities
See All Business Lawyers
Liquor License lawyers by city
See All Liquor License Lawyers

ContractsCounsel User

Recent Project:
Apply for Liquor License
Location: Connecticut
Turnaround: Less than a week
Service: Prepare & File
Doc Type: Liquor license
Number of Bids: 2
Bid Range: $4,000 - $5,000

ContractsCounsel User

Recent Project:
Liquor License Transfer
Location: Colorado
Turnaround: Over a week
Service: Prepare & File
Doc Type: Liquor license
Number of Bids: 2
Bid Range: $349 - $1,000

Need to apply for a liquor license?

Create a free project posting
Clients Rate Lawyers 4.9 Stars
based on 11,053 reviews

Want to speak to someone?

Get in touch below and we will schedule a time to connect!

Request a call

Find lawyers and attorneys by city