Applying For a Liquor License: A How-To Guide For Businesses

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How to apply for a liquor license

How to Apply for a Liquor License. Florida is known for its family-oriented attractions and lush vacation destinations, which might be part of the reason why the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation issues so few liquor licenses. 

For 2020, only 62 quota licenses were made available for applications throughout 30 counties. This is a minute fraction of the 23,655 entries that were allowed to participate in the lottery. The annual quota is determined based on population — only one license can be issued for every 7,500 people residing within a county’s limits. 

Quota licenses are just one type of license that can be used to serve alcohol in Florida, though. If you’re wondering how to apply for a liquor license, read on for more information.

Liquor Licenses in Florida 101: How to Get a Liquor License in Florida

If you are seeking a liquor license for your establishment, there are two main options you can pursue to obtain it. All alcohol licenses are issued by the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco within Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation, and prospective licensees can apply directly to the DBPR through one of the following avenues:

  • Completion of form ABT-6001: Form ABT-6001 is the gateway to all alcoholic beverage licenses for retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers. A completed form can be returned in person to one of the DBPR’s offices.
  • Enter the quota lottery: In addition to applications that are approved through the regular application system, DBPR issues alcoholic beverage licenses through the annual quota lottery. These licenses are far more competitive to obtain because they are free from many of the restrictions that regular licenses entail, and only one can be issued for every 7,500 people in a county.

Regardless of which route you choose, applicants will need to furnish fingerprints, proof of approval from the health department, and detailed zoning information in order to apply.

Beer and Wine Package Licenses vs. Liquor Licenses

Determining what kind of license you need to sell alcoholic beverages in Florida can be overwhelming. The terminology itself is mystifying to anybody who’s not an industry insider. It’s important to understand two of the most common types of alcoholic beverage licenses, though — beer and wine package licenses and liquor licenses:

  • Beer and wine package license: This type of license is issued under a 2APS permit or permit 2COP class D, which allows beer and wine — but not liquor — to be sold in packages. This type of license also allows for on-site consumption of beer and wine by the drink, so it is typically used by small stores or establishments selling wine and beer on-site.
  • Liquor license: A liquor license differs from other types of licenses because it allows licensees to sell drinks with higher alcohol content. Business owners can obtain a liquor license through the aforementioned quota license lottery, or you may apply using form ABT-6001 if you qualify for a special restaurant (SRX) license. To meet these requirements, at least 51% of an establishment’s revenue must come from food and non-alcoholic beverage sales.

Which type of license is right for your establishment depends on your business goals.

What Kind of License Do I Need to Sell Alcoholic Beverages?

There are many types of alcoholic beverage licenses that Florida business owners can apply for — 41 different specific types of permits, in fact. What kind of license do you need for your unique establishment? The answer to this question depends on several important factors. In order to determine which beer, wine, or liquor license you should apply for, consider the following questions:

  • Will patrons be consuming alcohol on-site, or will you offer package sales?
  • How much of your business revenue will come from the sale of food and non-alcoholic drinks?
  • Do you need to sell liquor, or will the sale of beer or wine be sufficient?
  • If you need to sell liquor to sustain your business concept, is the price of a license worth the investment?

Answer these questions to determine whether you should apply for a package license, a liquor license, or a special restaurant license.

Paying for the Application

Once you’ve determined what kind of license is right for your business, you’ll be faced with the expenses associated with selling and serving alcohol. Unfortunately, it can quickly become a cost-prohibitive endeavor, with liquor licenses often eclipsing five-figure expenses. Permit fees vary based on the population of the issuing county, but they can start as low as $28 or go as high as $1,820. These fees apply to licenses that are obtained through the ABT-6001 application.

If you want to pursue a quota license, you can enter the lottery or attempt to purchase a license from an existing holder. The latter option comes with the following expenses:

  • License transfer fee up to $5,000
  • A resale fee of $27,300 paid to the state if resold within three years
  • Price charged by owner, which has no limit

In addition to these costs, all recipients of alcoholic beverage licenses in Florida must pay a $10,750 activation fee per the Hughes Act. This fee helps fund state-subsidized alcohol abuse treatment programs.

Completing the Application

Completing the application for an alcoholic beverage license can be overwhelming, to say the least. How can you be sure that you’ve selected the correct permit for your business? How long does it take to receive a decision from DBPR? What happens once you’re approved? These are all questions that alcoholic beverage license applicants commonly face. Completing your beer, wine, or liquor license correctly is imperative to boost your approval odds — and, luckily, there is help available. Beverage License Specialists is devoted to helping businesses like yours get a license as quickly as possible.

How Beverage License Specialists Can Help

Enlisting help from Beverage License Specialists might be the best thing you do for your business. We have helped many establishments get the license they need with our streamlined, stress-free process. If you’re ready to start selling beer, wine, or liquor in Florida, let us help you.

For more information on the services we offer, you can call us at (954) 369-5858 or reach out to us online.


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