How to get a liquor license: The California State guide
If you have business ambitions of opening a space and starting a venture that involves the selling of alcohol, then the biggest and most important thing you need in order to be on the right side of the law and have everything run as smoothly as possible is a state approved liquor license.
For any business to be able to thrive and survive, it needs to meet all federal and state regulations and a liquor license is one of the most integral and important requirements. If you are planning on offering alcohol for sale, then you need a liquor license. There is no getting around it!
Let’s run through some of the most important and significant information that you need to know about how to get a liquor license in the state of California.
The first thing that you need to know is that from start to finish, the process of getting a brand new liquor license, on average, can take about 90 days. This isn’t something that can be arranged overnight, so it should be one of the first activities that you undertake when setting out on a new business venture that you know is going involve sales of alcohol.
Liquor licensees in California are required to have a seller’s permit for purposes of sales tax. This means you need to apply for a seller’s permit before you begin the process of requesting a liquor license. This is really important because the selling of alcohol without a seller’s permit is classed as a misdemeanor in California and doing so could result in anything from fines to incarceration!
Federal permits and stamp tax
The selling of alcohol is very carefully regulated within the United States, and the likelihood is that you will require a federal permit or stamp tax. This can be done quite easily by filing with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, who must approve your application before you can start selling liquor.
Abide by local regulations
Alongside all of the federal requirements that need to be met, there will also be a number of specific county or city laws that you will need to follow in order to meet the standards of a California liquor license.
For example, there are considerations like small business insurance and/or retail insurance requirements, and these guidelines can vary from city to city so can be different from Los Angeles to San Francisco to Sacramento etc.
The best thing to do is contact the local officials in your chosen city and they should be able to give you the specific requirements for what you need to do in order to be in step with the rules of your specific location.
Different types of licenses
It is important to make sure that you apply for the right kind of license depending on what types of alcohol you are going to be selling on premises. The different kinds are as follows:
- Type 41 – this is a beer and wine license for restaurants, known as the ‘On-Sale Beer and Wine – Eating Place’ license.
- Type 47 – this is for beer, wine and distilled spirits for restaurants, known as the ‘On-Sale General – Eating Place’ license.
- Type 48 – this is for beer, wine, and distilled spirits for bar and nightclubs, known as the ‘On-Sale General – Public Premises’ license. This license does not require you to operate food service alongside your alcohol sales.
For liquor licenses for sale for California, check here. On this website you can also find information on how to apply for a new liquor license.