The State-by-State Guide to Easily Getting a Liquor License

Meredith Wood

Meredith Wood

Editor-in-Chief at Fundera
Meredith is Editor-in-Chief at Fundera. Specializing in financial advice for small business owners, Meredith is a current and past contributor to Yahoo!, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, SCORE, AllBusiness and more.
Meredith Wood

If you’re gearing up to open a bar or restaurant, it’s likely you’re interested in snagging a liquor license. And for good reason! Liquor sales tend to have some of the largest profit margins of anything off a menu, averaging between 75%-80%, according to the Small Business Chronicle.

Though it may be 5 o’clock somewhere, there are regulations you must adhere to, including licensing, in order to run a business with alcohol legally.

Most states in the U.S. have their own governing agencies that regulate production, distribution, and sales of liquor, and you need to follow the steps they’ve outlined in order to obtain a license. Some might even require that you find a liquor license broker to assist you in the process, and many require you to work through local county officials to obtain licenses as well.

Sites like LiquorLicense.com are a one-stop shop for obtaining a liquor license in your state, but they can sometimes cost more—around $250—than the average do-it-yourself venue.

Fortunately, we’ve got a list right here to guide liquor-licensing efforts in any state. Cheers!

Alabama

The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) website includes a portal for a pre-application checklist and a pre-application form. You need to contact the ABC district office in your county for information on applying.

Alaska

Liquor licenses in Alaska are overseen by the Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. Follow these instructions carefully to obtain your license in Alaska.

Arizona

The state of Arizona has 21 different series of liquor licenses—see here for which one best applies to your business. A fingerprint is required to obtain any kind of liquor license, however, and at varying costs. See the Arizona Department of Liquor website for full instructions.

Arkansas

According to LiquorLicense.com, the Arkansas Alcohol Beverage Control Division is responsible for regulating liquor licenses. There are many types of liquor licenses with different application requirements and fees that must be met for the application to be considered. After the application process is complete, it is brought before a hearing where it is approved or denied. Call the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Administration to get your application started.

California

The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control states that any person wishing to obtain an alcoholic beverage license should apply at the nearest office of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Additionally, they advise checking with appropriate county or city officials to determine if a local business license is required, or if any zoning laws conflict with your desired license.

Colorado

You can apply for a liquor license through the Colorado Liquor & Tobacco Enforcement website. They also have a series of FAQs and resources for business owners selling alcohol.

Connecticut

Find all necessary applications for various liquor licenses in Connecticut through the Connecticut Liquor Control Division. Applications contain further instructions—some of which you can use to apply directly online.

Delaware

Find the appropriate forms for liquor licensing in Delaware here. Once you obtain the license, you can use the Online Licensee System for renewals.

Florida

MyFloridaLicense.com is the place to apply for a liquor license in the Sunshine State. Apply using a printable application, or access the online application system if available for the specific business or profession.

Georgia

According to Georgia.gov, “Georgia requires three types of licenses/permits to sell alcohol: a local alcohol license, a state alcohol license, and a Federal Basic Permit. There are also many different types of licenses, such as Brewpub, Broker, Farm Winery, etc.” You must first apply for your local license with local authorities, and then you can apply for your state license through the Georgia Department of Revenue.

Hawaii

According to Hawaii Business magazine, Applicants for Oahu liquor licenses must attend two hearings and submit floor plans, tax maps, and other documents and certificates. Click here to get forms, review liquor laws and rules, and then submit specific questions about the process to the liquor licensing clerk.

Idaho

Liquor Licenses in the Gem State can be found right here. Contact the Idaho Alcohol Beverage Control bureau for more information at 208.884.7060.

Illinois

The State of Illinois made a handy PDF to guide you in the liquor licensing process. You can find the proper forms right here as well.

Indiana

Applications can be found for Indiana liquor licenses right here, where both online and paper forms are available.

Iowa

The State of Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division has a nifty portal where you can find information on how to get a liquor license, review liquor laws, search license records, and more. Most licenses can be obtained online—see their Electronic Licensing User Guide for more info.

Kansas

The State of Kansas lets you apply for your liquor license right online. The Department of Revenue notes that when you apply for a new liquor license, “you will be in contact with either the Licensing or Marketing Unit.  If you are required to collect, file, and pay liquor drink or liquor enforcement taxes, you will also be in contact with the Customer Relations Miscellaneous Tax Segment.”

Kentucky

The Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) portal for the State of Kentucky contains links to all the appropriate forms for liquor licensing. ABC applications and forms may be printed, filled out, and submitted to ABC via mail or fax, and the Department strongly recommends that all new applicants simultaneously file their applications with state and local administrators.

Louisiana

You can find liquor license applications for Louisiana here and fill it out online.

Maine

Follow this step-by-step process for acquiring a liquor license in Maine. Most importantly: “In order to complete your application for an On-Premise License, the municipality, or in the case of an unorganized township, the county where your business will be located must approve your application.”

Maryland

You can find the application for a Maryland State liquor license right here. You will also need to file for licenses with your local government, for example the Baltimore Country Government.

Massachusetts

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has a portal for liquor license applications and information. Depending on which city your business is in, you may be able to apply online.

Michigan

The State of Michigan has online ordering for licenses. Use this portal for FAQs, rules, and other resources.

Minnesota

The League of Minnesota Cities has a great memo of all the information you need to file for a liquor license in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. This includes state requirements as well as municipal instructions, which are key to obtaining an liquor license in Minnesota.

Mississippi

You can find liquor license applications through the Mississippi State Alcoholic Beverage Control here. Be sure to check out their rules, laws, and regulations while you’re at it.

Missouri

All the information you need to apply for any kind of liquor license in the State of Missouri can be found right here.

Montana

The Montana Department of Revenue manages the alcohol beverage licenses for the state. Follow the links on their website to obtain your liquor license in Montana.

Nebraska

Find the forms for Nebraska State liquor licenses here—applications must be mailed, faxed, or emailed. The Liquor Control Commission asks that if you wish to bring an application for a liquor license into their office so that it may be reviewed before you leave, call the office first and make an appointment ahead of time.

Nevada

For the state of Nevada, you need to contact the local county office that deals with business licenses. Call the Nevada Alcoholic Beverage Control if you have issues locating the right office.

New Hampshire

In New Hampshire, you must first fill out a form to request an application for a liquor license. Based on the type of entity you run, there will be different processes—fortunately, they have guides for each and every one of them.

New Jersey

Licensing documents for the State of New Jersey can be found here. You can submit the documents online or via mail.

New Mexico

New Mexico has a limited number of liquor licenses, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. The Licensing Department suggests you employ a liquor license broker in your area to assist you. You can find more information on their website.

New York

See a list of available liquor licenses in the state of New York here, with information on how to apply and any other details you may need to know. The Liquor Authority Division of New York also lets you check the status of your application online.

North Carolina

Here are step-by-step instructions for obtaining a liquor license in North Carolina. Note that NC requires FEIN-SSN verification, as well as fingerprinting.

North Dakota

The official portal of the North Dakota Commissioner links you to all appropriate applications for obtaining a liquor license in the state.

Ohio

See this handy doc for information on how to apply for a liquor permit in Ohio. It even has links to the applications themselves.

Oklahoma

You can apply for a liquor license online in Oklahoma. You’ll need to create an account through their website and follow instructions from there.

Oregon

See a list of all license types in Oregon to decipher which license is best for your business. Then choose the appropriate application here and follow the instructions.

Pennsylvania

If you’re interested in applying for alcohol permits or licenses through the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), you must first register to use the PLCB+ system using an access code provided by the PLCB—anyone without an access code can email ra-lblicensingmod@pa.gov to obtain one. Then, the PLCB+ portal will be your one-stop shop to liquor licensing and resources for good.

Rhode Island

Apply for a liquor license directly online through the State of Rhode Island ELicensing portal. First-time applicants must register a new account.

South Carolina

The South Carolina Department of Revenue regulates liquor licenses for the state. See their website for a list of license types and their specifics, as well as renewal schedules and a license directory.

South Dakota

The South Dakota Department of Revenue instructs you to contact your county auditor for license availability, the cost and what the local process is for obtaining a license. See their website for more information.

Tennessee

Tennessee does Liquor-by-the-Drink licensing, meaning you can get a license specific to the type of alcohol and business type. See here for the list of license types and follow their links for further information and instructions on obtaining the license.

Texas

You can apply for liquor permits online through the TABC portal. Easy as that—almost. You also need to certify sellers/servers through this site as well.

Utah

See the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control website for information on licensing and links to various licensing portals.

Vermont

The Vermont Department of Liquor Control has a neat portal to guide you in choosing the correct license for your business and then instructing you through that process.

Virginia

The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control website leads you to a few different licensing options. Follow the links related to your business and you’ll be on your way to obtaining a liquor license.

Washington

Use the descriptions in the links on the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis website to figure out what type of liquor license you need and receive further instructions from there.

West Virginia

See this list of alcohol license applications and forms to determine which your business might need. If you need further assistance contact the Licensing Division between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. for information or assistance at 304.356.5500 or abcc.licensing@wv.gov.

Wisconsin

According to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, to apply for a liquor license, you must “contact the clerk for the city, village, or town where you wish to do business.” The clerk will hook you up with applications and information, and then the licensing authority (city council, council licensing board, town board, etc.) will have a say on your application.

Wyoming

Liquor licensing is done online through Wyoming’s Eliquor 2.0 portal. See instructions for registering for the program here, which you will need to do to obtain and manage a license.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Meredith Wood

Meredith Wood

Editor-in-Chief at Fundera
Meredith is Editor-in-Chief at Fundera. Specializing in financial advice for small business owners, Meredith is a current and past contributor to Yahoo!, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, SCORE, AllBusiness and more.
Meredith Wood

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