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There are a lot of benefits to serving alcohol at your restaurant. Liquor sales tend to have the largest profit margins over anything else on the menu, ranging from 75 to 80%. Alcohol is particularly profitable due to large markups for prices, low labor costs, and a longer shelf life compared to most other consumables.

Having beer, wine, and/or hard liquor on the menu can also attract new customers to your restaurant. For many people, a good meal includes an alcoholic beverage. When you offer alcohol to your customers, it can help bring more people to your establishment.

In the era of COVID-19, liquor sales can also help your restaurant stay profitable. While many states have banned or eliminated indoor dining, to-go liquor sales may be permitted — allowing you to continue to sell one of your most profitable items (ideally in a branded disposable cup). 

While there are a lot of advantages to selling alcohol, there is a significant hurdle that businesses must overcome in order to do so: getting a liquor license. Depending on where your restaurant (or bar) is located, obtaining a liquor license from the state may be expensive and time-consuming. Below, we explain how to get a liquor license and how much it may cost you.

Liquor License

Liquor Licenses: The Basics

Each state has its own agency that regulates the sale of alcohol. These have different names in each state. For example, in Michigan, the Liquor Control Commission issues liquor licenses.

Laws on the sale of alcohol vary significantly from state to state. In some states, the number of locations that can possess a liquor license in a given area is strictly limited, which can make it both difficult and expensive for a new bar or restaurant to obtain liquor license. 

There are two basic types of liquor licenses: a license to sell alcohol to be consumed on the premises, and a license to sell alcohol that will be consumed elsewhere. Most bars and restaurants will need a liquor license for alcohol to be consumed at their establishment. 

In your state, there may be additional classes of liquor licenses based on the type of business that you have. Typically, there are three types of liquor licenses available for bars and restaurants: (1) a restaurant license, which limits alcohol sales to a percentage of total profits; (2) a tavern or bar license for businesses that sell more alcohol than food; and (3) a beer and wine license for establishments to exclusively offer beer or wine. Based on how you do business, you will need to apply for the appropriate liquor license. 

If you are interested in getting a liquor license, a good first step is going to the website of the agency that regulates alcohol sales in your state. There, you can learn more about the process, specific laws that regulate the sale of alcohol, and any limitations on getting a liquor license.

Apply For A Liquor License

How to Apply for a Liquor License 

After reviewing the laws in your state about obtaining a liquor license, the next step is to gather the necessary information for your application. This generally requires providing person information (including proof of age) for the person on the application, as well as information about your establishment. Depending on your state’s requirements, you may be asked to provide:

  • A certificate of incorporation
  • An employer identification  number (EIN)
  • Other restaurant licenses and permits
  • A partnership agreement
  • A current or proposed menu

Generally, there are three steps that must be followed to get a liquor license:

  1. Contact your state’s alcohol control board to determine what type of license you need and whether that type of license is available in your area.
  2. Submit your application and any documentation required by your state, and pay the processing fee.
  3. Wait for your state agency to approve the application, and then pay the fee for your liquor license.

While the process varies considerably by state, looking at the process of one state can be helpful. In New York, liquor licenses are granted by the New York State Liquor Authority

There are 19 types of on-premise liquor licenses in New York. To be eligible for one of these licenses, you must be aged 21 or older, a U.S. citizen or eligible to hold a license, and cannot hold an interest in a wholesale, manufacturing, or importing business. You also have to be fingerprinted as part of the process.

To file an application, you must fill out an application and pay the required application fees. The application can be submitted online or directly to the Liquor Authority office in your region. You must also submit a host of documentation with your application, such as photos of the premises and the principals, a diagram of the premises, a lease or deed for the property, investment records, and a menu. 

In New York, there are a number of laws about what premises can be granted liquor licenses. For example, establishments that sell alcohol must be located at least 200 feet from schools and religious buildings. Before applying, it is important to review the laws in your jurisdiction to make sure that you are eligible for a license.

Depending on where your business is located, it may take as little as a few months or as long as a year to be granted a liquor license. On average, it takes five to six months after applying to receive an application. If you do not submit all required information, it may take longer to get a decision on your application.

The cost of a liquor license varies considerably by state. In New Hampshire, a liquor license costs $178.00, while in California, a license can cost up to $15835. In Pennsylvania, there is no fixed price for a liquor license as the only way to obtain one in many cases is to purchase an existing license from another business (due to a state law that limits the number of licenses issued).

After you receive a liquor license, you will need to renew it every 1 to 3 years. The cost to renew a liquor license is generally much lower, requiring only the payment of a renewal fee.

How To Get A Liquor License In Each State

How To Get A Liquor License In Alabama

Those in Alabama looking to earn a liquor license will have to schedule an appointment with the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Licensing Division. You’ll have to schedule an appointment with the office in your county. Before your appointment with the division, you’ll want to fill out the required pre-application form and checklist. The checklist contains a list of documents you’ll need to bring with you to your appointment. 

Liquor licenses in Alabama can range from $100 to $1,000 depending on the type of license you need. Licenses expire annually on September 30th with a renewal period stretching from June 1st to July 31st of each year. 

How To Get A Liquor License In Alaska

Obtaining a liquor license in Alaska requires approval from the Alaska ABC board, as well as, state and local government agencies. The state website offers a checklist for individuals looking to obtain a license. To get started, you’ll want to fill out a license application form and prominently post it at your business location for 10 days. After 10 days, you can submit your application to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board for review. Once the board has all of your paperwork, they will get in touch with the necessary local and state authorities to get your application approved. 

Liquor licenses in Alaska must be renewed every two years and the cost for a license can range from $50 to $2,500.

How To Get A Liquor License In Arizona

There are actually 21 different liquor licenses that you can apply for. Once you’ve figured out which license best suits your needs, you can start the process by registering an account with the Arizona Department of Liquor. After you’ve created an account, you can upload the required documents and submit your application online. Applications are normally processed within 105 days. Liquor licenses in Arizona are renewed on an annual basis and can range from $100 to $2,000. 

How To Get A Liquor License In Arkansas

Liquor licenses in Arkansas are regulated by the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Division of the Department of Finance and Administration. There are six unique types of liquor licenses that a business can apply for. To apply for a license, you can mail a completed application to the Arkansas ABC Division along with an entertainment form and a form certifying that you have attended an ABC education seminar. 

The cost of a license ranges from $100 to $3,000 and licenses must be renewed by June 30th every year.

How To Get A Liquor License In California

California has 99 different types of liquor licenses issued by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. The forms required will vary depending on the type of license you’re seeking. The process can be completed in just five easy steps and the cost of the license can range from $10 to $2,010. In addition to a state license, you may also need a local license depending on your local laws. The processing time for new licenses is typically 90 days and licenses need to be renewed every 12 months. 

How To Get A Liquor License In Colorado

Obtaining a liquor license in Colorado starts at the local level. Once you’re approved by your local government, you can then apply for one of the seven different types of liquor licenses with the Department of Revenue. Licenses range from $5 to $1,020 depending on the type of license. 

How To Get A Liquor License In Connecticut

There are 26 different types of liquor licenses that a business can apply for in Connecticut. Applications for a license should be submitted to the Department of Consumer Protection in Hartford in a drop box at the department. The on-premise liquor permit will require approval from your local municipality, as well as, the Department of Consumer Protection. Licenses need to be renewed annually and range from $60 to $2,750. 

How To Get A Liquor License In Delaware

You can apply for a liquor license online in Delaware via the Office of Alcoholic Beverage Control Commissioner’s website. Different applications exist depending on whether liquor is imported into the state, alcohol is sold at group gatherings, or you plan to supply liquor to Delaware importers. To obtain a license for selling alcohol at group gatherings, you’ll need to submit an application along with a copy of the deed or lease of the premises where you will be selling the liquor, and an estimate on the number of gatherings you plan on hosting over a two year period. 

Licenses are renewed every two years and range from $150 to $3,000 depending on the license. There is also an additional $500 fee to sell alcohol on Sundays. 

How To Get A Liquor License In Florida

Like most states, Florida has a number of different liquor license permits available. The most common permit is the retail beverage permit. To apply for a retail beverage permit, you’ll need to mail an application with supporting documentation and the $400 application fee to your local Alcohol, Beverage, & Tobacco Division office

Licenses are renewed on an annual basis and the cost will vary depending on the size of the population in your county. Because Florida limits the number of licenses available based on the county population, quota licenses are distributed via a lottery system. To be included in the lottery, you need to submit a quota application with a $100 fee to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation between the third Monday of August and 45 days after.

How To Get A Liquor License In Georgia

Like a few other states, applying for a liquor license in Georgia starts at the local level. You must apply for a license with local authorities before applying for a state license. On top of a local and state license, you must also obtain a Federal Basic Permit to sell alcohol in the state. Once you’ve been approved on a local level, you apply for your state license with the Georgia Department of Revenue.

A license for retailers can range anywhere from $10 to $1,000. Licenses are renewed on an annual basis. 

How To Get A Liquor License In Hawaii

The liquor license process in Hawaii varies depending on the county you live in. Generally, licenses can range anywhere from $45 to $5,940 and must be renewed every year. 

How To Get A Liquor License In Idaho

Liquor licenses in Idaho operate under a quota system. Every city starts with two licenses and the number of licenses increases by one for every 1,500 residents. Businesses wishing to apply for a license can do so by submitting an application and supporting documentation to the Alcohol Beverage Control Bureau of the Idaho State Police. Applications typically take 90 days from the date of submission to process. If your application is approved, you will be placed on a waitlist until a liquor license is available in your city. 

Licenses are renewed annually and can range from $50 to $750. You can purchase a license from a business that already has one to skip the waitlist, but licenses for sale are pricey. Licenses can go for anywhere from $177,000 to $273,000 depending on the market.  

How To Get A Liquor License In Illinois

You can apply for a liquor license in Illinois with the state’s Liquor Control Commission. You’ll need to submit a completed application along with a local liquor license, your sales tax number/Illinois business tax number, and federal employer identification number. Liquor licenses cost $750 and are renewed annually. 

How To Get A Liquor License In Indiana

Liquor licenses in Indiana can be obtained from the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission. Completed applications and supporting documentation should either be mailed to the commission or submitted online. Applications typically take about 90 days to process and the cost for a license is $1,000. 

How To Get A Liquor License In Iowa

Liquor licenses in Iowa can be obtained online via the State of Iowa Alcoholic Beverage Division. The portal will walk you through the entire licensing process. Fees will vary depending on the population of the city and the type of license, but they can range from $3.25 to $2,028. Licenses must be renewed on an annual basis. 

How To Get A Liquor License In Kansas

The Kansas Department of Revenue’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Department has a convenient online portal where you can apply for a liquor license. The portal outlines the process and contains everything you may need to know about licensing. Applications are normally processed within 30 days. Licenses are renewed every two years and fees range from $50 to $1,600.

How To Get A Liquor License In Kentucky

The Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has an online portal where you can apply for a license. You must receive local approval for a license before the state can issue you one. Licenses are renewed annually and the fee can range from $30 to $7,730.

How To Get A Liquor License In Louisiana

Louisian has seven different applications for liquor licenses depending on the type of business and whether alcohol is being consumed on or off-premise. Applications are normally processed within 35 days. Fees range from $145 to $220 and must be renewed annually.

How To Get A Liquor License In Maine

The Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages & Lottery Operations has put together a step-by-step process for acquiring a liquor license on their website. You can download the license and permit application forms online and then submit the completed forms by mail or in-person. On-premise licenses require the approval of your local municipality. Licenses can range from $220 to $2,200. 

How To Get A Liquor License In Maryland

You can apply for a liquor license in Maryland with the Comptroller of Maryland. Those seeking a liquor license will have to obtain approval from the local government before getting a license from the state. State licenses must be renewed on an annual basis. Baltimore County applications will come with an additional $600 fee. 

How To Get A Liquor License In Massachusetts

A Local Licensing Authority will be able to grant you a liquor license in Massachusetts. To apply for a retail license, you can download the required retail license application and turn it into your Local Licensing Authority with the $200 application fee. Depending on the city you’re applying in, you may be able to apply entirely online. A hearing for your license will be held within 10 to 30 days after the application is received to determine if your application is approved. 

How To Get A Liquor License In Michigan

To acquire a retail liquor license, you’ll need to apply with the Michigan Liquor Control Commission. You can find the application on the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website. It could take months to process your license application and required documentation once you’ve submitted it. Fees for a license will depend on whether you’re applying for an on-premise or off-premise permit. You can pay up to $1,000 for a retail license. A face-to-face meeting between you and the Michigan Liquor Control Commission investigator will also be required. Liquor licenses expire annually on April 30th of each year. 

How To Get A Liquor License In Minnesota

Obtaining a liquor license in Minnesota starts on the local level. Once you have approval from the local government, you can apply for a license with the state. Applications are submitted to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement for review. Once an application is filed, the license bureau may conduct a background check of ownership. A public hearing or period for public comment may also be required. License fees vary based on location and the size of the establishment. 

How To Get A Liquor License In Mississippi

Applications for liquor licenses are reviewed by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board in Mississippi. You can submit your application form along with financial statements, fingerprint cards, a copy of your business lease/deed, and ownership information to the Mississippi ABC for approval. Depending on the type of permit you’re applying for, fees can range from $45 to $9,025. 

How To Get A Liquor License In Missouri

Missouri has five different Alcohol and Tobacco Control offices located across the state. You’ll need to apply for a liquor license with one of the five offices depending on your district. To get started, you’ll need to complete an application form and send it to your office along with the $300 application fee. Applications typically take 10-21 days to process. Licenses are renewed annually from May 1st to April 30th of each year. 

How To Get A Liquor License In Montana

The Montana Department of Revenue has created an online portal for businesses to apply for a liquor license. You can follow the steps in the portal to apply for a license. License fees range from $400 to $800 and licenses must be renewed annually before June 30th of each year.

How To Get A Liquor License In Nebraska

To apply for a liquor license in Nebraska, you’ll need to submit a completed application form to the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission. Applications can be mailed, faxed, or emailed. Applications can take up to 60 days to process and there is a $400 application fee. 

How To Get A Liquor License In Nevada

To apply for a liquor license in Nevada, you’ll need to contact the local county office in your county that deals with business licenses. You can contact the Nevada Alcoholic Beverage Control Bureau to locate the correct office in your county.  You’ll need to submit a completed application form along with an application fee of up to $550 (depending on the type of license you’re applying for) to your county office. Licenses need to be renewed annually by July 1st of each year. 

How To Get A Liquor License In New Hampshire

New Hampshire has created helpful guides for all of the different processes for obtaining a liquor license in the state. The process you undertake will depend on the type of entity you’re running. You’ll have to pay a $100 fee when you submit a completed application.After your application is filed, you’ll need to schedule an inspection of your business premises. Once the inspection is completed, you can then schedule your final appointment with the Liquor Commission.

How To Get A Liquor License In New Jersey

If you’re seeking to get a liquor license in New Jersey, you’ll need to contact your local Alcoholic Beverage Commission board or the Municipal Clerk to request a retail license application. A $200 filing fee will be required when you submit your completed application. In certain cases, you may be able to apply for your license online. Liquor licenses in New Jersey must be renewed on an annual basis. 

How To Get A Liquor License In New Mexico

Like a few other states, New Mexico is a quota state. This means that a limited number of liquor licenses are available. The New Mexico Licensing Department suggests that you find a license broker to help you secure a license since the number of licenses available is so limited. There is a $200 application fee once you’re able to apply for a license. 

How To Get A Liquor License In New York

The State of New York has an online license information page where you can view the different types of liquor licenses available along with information on how to apply for the respective license. You can submit your application online with the Liquor Authority Division of New York. Notice of intent to pursue a license will need to be provided to your local municipality at least 30 days prior to filing an application. 

How To Get A Liquor License In North Carolina

To apply for a liquor license in North Carolina, you can download the required forms and submit them via the Alcoholic Beverage Control Bureau’s online portal. License fees range from $100 to $1,000 depending on the type of license. Licenses need to be renewed annually. 

How To Get A Liquor License In North Dakota

You can apply for a liquor license in North Dakota by submitting an application with the appropriate license fee to the Office of the Attorney General. The license fee will vary depending on the alcohol type and the month you file in. Applications typically take four to six weeks to process. Licenses also need to be renewed every year before December 31st of each year.  

How To Get A Liquor License In Ohio

The State of Ohio has an informational PDF on how to get a liquor license that you can download. Once you file an application and pay the $100 processing fee to the Ohio Department of Commerce, notice will be sent to local authorities and the local police department. A compliance officer with the licensing office will inspect the premises and ensure the location is properly zoned for the sale of alcohol. It’s possible that a hearing may also be requested by local legislatures. It can take up to twelve weeks to be approved for a license given the number of steps in the process. The cost of a license can vary, but the price could be as much as $2,344. 

How To Get A Liquor License In Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission has an online portal you can use to apply for a liquor license in the state. Once you’re in the portal, the process is pretty straightforward. There is a $55 fee to submit an application. Liquor licenses must be renewed annually.

How To Get A Liquor License In Oregon

The fees and forms to get a liquor license in Oregon will vary depending on the type of license you’re looking to acquire. Altogether, there are 28 different types of licenses you can apply for. The applications for each license can be found here. Once you’ve figured out what type of license you’re applying for, you can submit your application to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission office in your county. 

After the commission accepts your application, you will be given a copy of your application to take to your local government. Local authorities will then provide recommendations to the commission on whether or not the license should be approved. The entire process can take four to eight weeks. 

How To Get A Liquor License In Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has created a one-stop-shop for obtaining a liquor license with the state. You’ll need to register with the board using the PLCB+ online regulatory system. Once you’ve created an account you can use the portal to apply for a license. The process is pretty straightforward. Licenses are renewed on an annual basis. 

How To Get A Liquor License In Rhode Island

You can apply for a liquor license in Rhode Island by using the state’s e-licensing portal. You can view the different types of liquor licenses available here.The application forms and fees will vary depending on the license. Licenses are renewed on an annual basis. 

How To Get A Liquor License In South Carolina

Liquor licenses in South Carolina are regulated by the Department of Revenue. The department has outlined the different types of licenses available and the process to obtain each type on its website. Applications can take six to eight weeks to process. The filing fee ranges between $200 and $300 and the cost of a license can be anywhere from $5 to $2,200 depending on the license. 

How To Get A Liquor License In South Dakota

Filing for a liquor license in South Dakota will be done with the Department of Revenue. The department’s website outlines all of the different types of licenses you can apply for. You can use the department’s online portal to create an account and apply for a license. Liquor licenses are renewed on an annual basis. 

How To Get A Liquor License In Tennessee

The State of Tennessee operates under liquor-by-the-drink licensing. Under this form of licensing, licenses are available by type of alcohol and business type. You can apply for a new license using the Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s online portal. The cost of a license will vary depending on the type of license and the number of seats available at your establishment (for bars and restaurants). Licenses are renewed annually. 

How To Get A Liquor License In Texas

Liquor licenses in Texas can be obtained using the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s online portal. There are a number of different licenses you can apply for. When you click on the license you’re interested in, you’ll be able to see the cost and fees associated with the license. Liquor licenses must be renewed every two years.

How To Get A Liquor License In Utah

In Utah, there are 16 different types of retail licenses. You can use the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s website to view the different types of licenses and find the one that’s best for your business. When you click on a license it will disclose the fees and costs, which vary by license type. Fees can be as high as $10,000. After an application is submitted with the Utah ABC, the bureau will consider the proximity and condition of the location, the type of operation, the applicant’s characteristics and background, and various other factors to determine whether or not the business is approved for a liquor license. Licenses are renewed on an annual basis and the renewal date depends on the type of license. 

How To Get A Liquor License In Vermont

Vermont offers an online portal through the Department of Liquor Control where you can apply for a liquor license. You can use the portal to view the different types of licenses available and apply for the license that best suits your needs. The portal makes the application process pretty straightforward. Your application will need to be submitted to both the Department of Liquor Control and your local government. As part of the licensing process, you will need to attend a seminar conducted by the Department of Liquor Control. Liquor licenses in Vermont are renewed on an annual basis. 

How To Get A Liquor License In Virginia

There are three different types of liquor licenses you can obtain in Virginia: industry, banquet, and retail. The cost, forms, and required documentation varies depending on the type of license you need. You can view the licenses and requirements on the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s website. The website contains pdf application forms you can download and fill out to send to the Virginia ABC with the required application fee. The bureau will then conduct a background investigation and notify the local government of your license application. If a license application is contested by local authorities or local residents, a public hearing will be held to determine if the license is approved or not. Licenses in Virginia are renewed on an annual basis.

How To Get A Liquor License In Washington

You can apply for a liquor license with the State of Washington through the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. The board’s website outlines the process and associated fees with each type of license. You will be required to submit an LCB addendum and alcohol dealer registration with your application. There is a $75 filing fee. Once an application is submitted, the board will interview you and enact a period of public comment. Liquor licenses are renewed on an annual basis.  

How To Get A Liquor License In West Virginia

If you’re interested in applying for a liquor license in West Virginia, you’ll be applying with the West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration. There are two different classes of licenses and different types of licenses available in those classes. You can view all of the types and classes on the administration’s website. Licenses range from $100 to $7,650 depending on the type of license. Applications will need to be submitted with a $5,000 alcohol beverage control bond and/or a $1,000 non-intoxicating beer bond along with fingerprint cards, building and business information, and a copy of a valid health permit. Licenses are renewed on an annual basis. 

How To Get A Liquor License In Wisconsin

To apply for a license in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue advises that you seek out your local municipal clerk. A municipal clerk can help you with the application process and answer any questions you may have. Once you’ve submitted an application, the local licensing authority will decide whether or not the application is approved.  Fees for liquor licenses will vary by municipality, but can be upwards of $10,000 or more.

How To Get A Liquor License In Wyoming

You can apply for a liquor license in Wyoming using the state’s Eliquor portal. Once you create an account in the portal, you’ll be able to navigate your options to apply for a license. The process is pretty straightforward using the portal. The fees vary depending on the type of license, but they can range from $100 to $10,500. Licenses are renewed on an annual basis. 

Branded Plastic Beer Cup

How to Make The Most of Your Liquor License with Custom Cups

After investing the time — and money — to get a liquor license, you want to make sure that you realize the full value of the license. One way to do that is by serving drinks in custom disposable cups that help to create brand awareness. When people are enjoying your drinks, they can help you market your bar or restaurant at the same time.

Plastic cups are a great option for restaurants and bars, whether you choose a clear plastic cup for fun, multi-colored cocktails or a stadium cup for beer and other drinks. At a time when concerns over health and sanitation are rising, disposable cups give your customers peace of mind. They’re also a great option for to-go liquor orders and outdoor dining.

Budget Branders offers custom branded disposable items for small to medium sized businesses, at prices that make sense for your company. While large corporations and chain restaurants can afford to order cups in bulk, most smaller operations simply cannot afford that expense. We make it easy for you to order what you need, with lower minimum order quantities and fair prices.

We are committed to working with restaurants, bars, and other businesses to help them achieve success, during the pandemic and beyond. Reach out to us today by calling 1-888-373-4880, emailing us, or pressing the live chat button at any time to learn more or to discuss your specific needs.