What You Need To Get a Liquor License In California


By NotaryLive Staff

Published on 12/16/2022

Are you considering establishing a company that sells alcohol to consumers? Becoming a liquor commissioner in a restaurant, bar, or liquor store opens a great opportunity for business owners. 

But wait! You must obtain an ABC liquor license (Alcoholic Beverage Control) before you sell alcohol in your establishment. Here’s how:


Liquor License Requirements

Knowing the prerequisites for applying for an alcohol-serving license is important before you proceed with the process in California. These requirements are as follows:

  • You have to be at least 21 years old.
  • Must possess the necessary insurance (restaurant and bar insurance)
  • Must have a proper location and zoning approval
    • To thoroughly investigate the location where you would be selling your alcohol, you must contact county officials.
    • You can require a conditional use permit if starting a new business in a certain area.
  • A Sales Tax Permit is required
    • You must contact the State Board Of Equalization to request a seller's permit for sales tax.
  • An Escrow Agreement is required
    • If buying a business or transferring a business, you must have the escrow established for the full purchase amount. This demonstrates that the payment will only be made if ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) has given the licensed trader its approval.
    • You must provide your County Recorder notice of the transfer.


Liquor License Cost Of Application

ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) keeps a thorough schedule of application fees for various licensing kinds. (look this link up and link it) The various rates for various liquor license applications are listed below.

  • General ABC Licenses: $945 for Non-priority to $16,560 for priority ABC licenses
  • Non-General ABC Licenses: $105—$945
  • Transfer Fees for person-to-person transfers: $105—$1305
  • Premise to Premise transfer fees: $105—$6275


Submitting Your Application For A Liquor License In California 

There are five stages in the liquor permit application process in CA.

  1. Initial Filing
  • Locate the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control office that is closest to you. The ABC staff will assist you in deciding what kind of license you need to have based on a set of criteria.
  • They will then let you know what paperwork and costs you need to continue with the procedure.
  1. Notifications
  • A Public Notice of Application must be posted at the location for 30 days while an inquiry or inspection is taking place. This includes publishing a notice in the newspaper, mailing a notice to all persons living within 500 ft of the premises, and obtaining proof from the local planning department that shows that the zoning permits are an Alcoholic Beverage Control License.
  1. Investigations
  • When it comes to getting a license, there may be some challenges. Someone may object to the liquor license once the notification is published. Some factors of a protest are:
    • The applicant is not qualified
    • The premises are not suitable (too close to a school, church, hospital, etc.).
  1. Final Review
  • Alcoholic Beverage Control starts the final review process for approval if the applicant demonstrates that all requirements have been met and have been provided to them. The following things may prevent the issuance of a liquor license:
    • Documents with missing or inaccurate information
    • Incorrect or absent fees
    • Placement of liens against an escrow
    • The location is still being built and is not yet operational.
  1. License Issue
  • The applicant will receive their liquor license after the final evaluation is finished. They are then given the go-ahead to sell alcoholic beverages at their establishment.


Notarizing Documents To Obtain Liquor License In California

Keep in mind that if the Alcohol Beverage Control Agent is not present, certain of the paperwork needed to apply for a California ABC permit must be notarized. Given how difficult it is to secure a liquor permit in the first place, using NotaryLive makes the process considerably simpler for you. Depending on your circumstances, you might need to sign the following documents in order to get a liquor license.

  • Individual Personal Affidavit ABC-208-A
  • Individual Financial Affidavit ABC-208-B
  • Application Signature Sheet (“Sign-On”) ABE-211-SIG
  • License Transfer Request (“Sign-Off” ABC-211-A
  • Application Questionnaire ABC-217


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Updated Date: 03/31/2023




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