How to Get a Liquor License in New York State

Brooklyn New York Liquor LicensesIf you are opening a bar or restaurant in New York State or if you already have a business without a permit to serve alcohol, getting one could obviously increase traffic and revenue.

Before applying it is important to know a little about the process of getting a liquor license in New York.  Knowing the specifics of the licensing programs, eligibility, Alcoholic Beverage Control, or ABC, Law and the New York State Liquor Authority can give you good head start.

When it comes to the actual licenses to sell alcohol in New York State there are two basic categories – wholesale and retail.

A wholesale license means you are legally authorized to manufacture, warehouse and distribute alcoholic beverages to the retailers, who are then legally able to buy alcohol at wholesale and re-sell the products for consumption on or off their premises, depending on their class of license.

So, for example, the manufacturer is the label on the bottle, the wholesaler is the distribution channel and the retailers are the bars, restaurants, public vendors, liquor stores and convenience stores who sell to consumers.

New York State Liquor License Qualifications

Qualifying for a liquor license in this state is pretty straight forward.

The basic requirements are being 21 years of age and a US citizen with no criminal convictions. A felony DWI, certain misdemeanors and out-of-state convictions can all disqualify you.

If you meet the basic requirements, you can obtain an application by calling the New York Liquor Authority offices or by downloading the form from the right sidebar.

Mail your completed application to the NYSLA. Once the liquor authority office receives your application they work very hard to process it as quickly as possible.

The three central offices are located in New York City, Buffalo and Albany. Each office handles a specific region and can handle hundreds of applications and questions per day; roughly 70,000 applications per year are investigated.

Considering the amount of applications which are processed, it is a good idea to know the specifics of the law.

For example, a business which sells liquor and alcoholic beverages must be located 200 feet from schools and religious buildings.

Once your application is submitted the fees are non-refundable and are due upon receipt of the application by your region’s office, making it even more important to be completely sure you qualify for the licenses and permits prior to applying.

Applying for a Temporary Liquor Permit

Now that you know roughly how to get a liquor license in New York you should also know that there are certain instances when you may be able to obtain a temporary permit for the sale of alcohol.

• The premises must have been open and operating with an active license at least 30 days prior to filing the application for the permit.

• The permit and fee must be filed simultaneously with the Retail License Application (fees are listed on the application).

If the premises are located in city with a population of UNDER one million the following conditions must be satisfied in order to qualify for a Temporary Retail Permit:

• The permit and fee must be filed simultaneously with the Retail License Application (fees are listed on the application).

All applicants should contact the Authority to find out if there are any disqualifications against the location prior to filing. Once the application for the Temporary Retail Permit is filed, the Authority will review the licensing history of the location and all principals as well as fingerprint results for each principal and determine if a temporary application could be approved.

Please note that the fee for the Temporary Retail Permit is NON REFUNDABLE.

source: https://www.sla.ny.gov/frequently-asked-questions

A retailer whom already owns a current license can apply for a catering permit which allows them to sell alcohol at their licensed events off-premises. An alcohol caterer can then sell their services to a non-license holder to provide alcohol sales for their events.

Retailers who obtain a temporary beer and wine license must purchase their products from a certified liquor wholesaler; purchasing these products for re-sale from another retailer is illegal.

Some Quick Points Regarding Wholesaler Liquor Licenses

Wholesalers pay annually for their respective license. A wholesaler may obtain a license for the manufacture and sale of beer, wine, or wine and liquor together.  Any alcoholic beverages manufactured in New York State must be brand labeled and certified for authenticity.

Wholesale manufacturers of liquor and wine must also provide price schedules for their products by law.

The New York State Liquor authority provides access to free information for all retail and wholesale license holders. The resources include information on compliance with the laws associated with your license.

Should I Hire a Liquor License Attorney?

Despite the application process being fairly easy and straight forward, the specifics of the laws and the proper use of your license can be confusing at first. If you are concerned with any part of the liquor license application process do not hesitate to contact us through this website.

The New York State Liquor Authority Homepage is a good place to start and consulting a law professional can help you to understand the specifics of the ABC laws and various permit and license types.

Many offer free consultations or seminars and since they understand the laws associated with the application process, they can generally help expedite the entire process.

Of course, hiring a Liquor Licensing Attorney is the more expensive route to take initially, but it can help you get your license quicker and it can help you avoid making a mistake on the application that could force unwanted, costly delays.

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