How to Obtain an Alcohol License

Updated February 21, 2017

Alcohol licenses allow people of a particular establishment to sell alcoholic beverages to individual retail customers. Each license is issued by local municipalities (cities and towns) after the governing body (town board, city council) determines that the applicant meets the requirements and is qualified for the license. Anyone wishing to sell alcoholic beverages or allow consumption in a public place must obtain the appropriate alcohol license.

Meet basic qualifications for obtaining a license. These requirements may include: must be of legal drinking age (21), must have resided in city, town, or state for so many consecutive days, must have a seller's permit issued by the Department of Revenue, and must have completed a responsible beverage server training program (call local Vocational, Technical, and Adult Education--VTAE). Each municipality determines its own set of requirements. Contact the clerk of your city or town for exact requirements.

Determine the type of alcohol you want to sell and to whom you want to sell it. There are different types of common alcohol beverage licenses that vary on whether you can sell beer, wine or liquor and the different types of establishments that you can sell in. For a breakdown of individual license types, please visit the "Alcohol License Types" under Resources.

Apply for alcohol license. Contact the clerk for the city or town where you want to do business. She will supply you with the application and information about legal requirements. After you have applied, the clerk will publish the application in the local daily paper for three consecutive days or once in the local weekly paper to determine if there are any objections from the community. The licensing authority (town board, city council) will then vote on the application. If approved, the license will be granted in approximately two weeks after the filing date.

Pay licensing fee. Fees are set by local municipalities with limits set by the state.


Permits are not the same as licenses. Retailers are typically covered by licenses issued by the local municipality, and wholesale and production organisations are covered by permits issued by the state.

Things You'll Need

  • Contact information for local clerk
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About the Author

Diana Braun began her writing career as a consultant and technical writer for a software company focusing on how-to, training, white paper, and internal process documentation. After two years, Braun left to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams. Since then, she has launched several startups including a t-shirt business, an online marketing and advertising t-shirt distribution business, and an entertainment site. She currently resides in South Florida.