How to Get a Beer & Liquor License

Updated February 21, 2017

Selling beer and liquor can be a major source of income for a variety of business. It is absolutely required to run a successful bar or nightclub, but many don't realise just how much money a restaurant can make from serving alcohol. As with anything, though, to serve alcohol legally at least one license is going to be required. The process of obtaining a beer and liquor license, however, is not nearly as difficult as you may think.

Consider exactly how you're going to sell beer and liquor. Depending on your city and state of residency, there may be different classifications of licenses depending on how you intend to sell - whether you serve food or are just a bar, your location, and so forth.

Contact the Division of Alcohol and Beverage Control in your state. You can find contact information on the website of your state's government (for example, ). From here you can request an application to obtain your license. Each state will have its own set of requirements before your request will even be considered, so make sure you meet them all before filling out and sending in your completed application.

Fill out an application with your county. More than likely, you will need to obtain dual licenses - one for the state and one for your county/city. Make no mistake - until you get both, you aren't selling beer and liquor legally.

Pay any licensing fees. When you send in your applications, each is going to require you to pay a fee for it to be processed. Get used to them - you'll be paying them annually.

Fill out any forms necessary for your local sheriff's department. Many departments will require you to comply to a background check on you and your business before they'll grant their approval for the license.


Applying for beer and liquor licenses can be a long process. Have patience.


Remember that once you start selling beer and liquor, you are responsible for the actions of your patrons once they leave your business after they've been drinking. Serve responsibly.

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About the Author

Stephen Lilley is a freelance writer who hopes to one day make a career writing for film and television. His articles have appeared on a variety of websites. Lilley holds a Bachelor of Arts in film and video production from the University of Toledo in Ohio.