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Do You Need a Liquor License? Here’s What You Need to Know (2023)

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do you need a liquor licenseAre you interested in entering the alcohol business? Then, you may be wondering if you need a liquor license. The answer is yes – most businesses that deal with alcohol must obtain one in order to operate legally.

However, some types of establishments and activities do not require a liquor license. To understand what type of permit best suits your needs and how to apply for it, read on for more information about obtaining a liquor license in the United States.

Key Takeaways

  • Businesses that deal with alcohol need a liquor license to operate legally.
  • Primary permits allow businesses to manufacture, distribute, and sell alcoholic beverages at retail locations.
  • Subordinate permits permit limited sales of beer or wine for consumption away from the licensed premises.
  • Businesses must possess an active liquor license from the TABC and be approved by their local county or city government to apply for subordinate permits.

Who Needs a Liquor License?

do you need a liquor license 1
If you’re asking who needs a liquor license, the answer isn’t as simple as it may seem. Depending on your business and its purpose, primary or subordinate permits may be required in order to sell alcohol.

Primary permits are those that allow businesses to manufacture, distribute, and sell alcoholic beverages at retail locations. Subordinate permits permit limited sales of beer or wine for consumption away from the licensed premises.

Other types of subordinate licenses include a caterer’s per-person permit, which allows the service of beer and wine by establishments catering events off their premises, such as weddings or banquets. There is also a special event retailer’s permit, a hotel/restaurant (HR) license allowing the sale of all alcoholic beverages, including spirits, for consumption both on-premises and off-premises.

Additionally, there is a brewery pub license permitting restaurants associated with breweries to serve malt beverage products produced only by them. A club liquor license authorizes clubs organized exclusively for religious, charitable, educational purposes, among other things like golf courses, etc.

Lastly, there is a winery direct shipper’s permit allowing shipment into certain states directly from wineries located outside those states.

Primary Permits

You must have a primary permit to serve alcoholic drinks, so you can keep the festivities flowing. Exploring alternatives, researching requirements, and understanding costs is important when navigating regulations.

Assessing options such as obtaining a beverage certificate or Tabc permit can ensure compliance with mixed beverage permits for businesses selling alcohol in Texas. Primary permits allow retailers to purchase liquor from wholesalers and are necessary to operate legally within the state of Texas when it comes to serving alcoholic beverages.

Liquor licenses are also required for certain establishments who choose this route.

Subordinate Permits

Subordinate permits allow you to enhance the experience of your customers by offering a wider selection of alcoholic beverages. These secondary licenses are required for any business hosting events, buying alcohol, selling alcohol, serving alcohol, or advertising it at a specific location in Texas.

In order to apply for these subordinate permits, businesses must already possess an active liquor license from the TABC and be approved by their local county or city government. Obtaining this type of permit is essential to ensure compliance with all regulations related to the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages.

A subordinate permit allows businesses greater control over how they serve drinks, as well as more options when purchasing products from wholesalers. This gives them the freedom to comply with state laws regarding service standards while still having flexibility in their operations.

Other Subordinate Permits

Discover the different ways you can enhance your customers’ experience by obtaining other subordinate permits. There are Liquor Laws, Tax Impact, Alcohol Advertising, and Age Requirements to consider when applying for a permit.

Business Regulations may require only certain types of permits, such as a Malt Beverage Retailer’s Permit or Local Cartage Permit, if selling alcohol is part of your operations. A Seller Server permit is also necessary for those involved in serving alcohol onsite.

This phase of the alcoholic beverage industry requires additional training to ensure safe practices are upheld at all times.

By understanding these requirements and taking steps to obtain applicable licenses, businesses open themselves up to more opportunities while ensuring their compliance with state laws regarding service standards for any type of event they host!

Who Does NOT Need a Liquor License?

Who Does NOT Need a Liquor License?
You may be wondering who doesn’t need a liquor license. Generally speaking, if you’re not selling alcohol and don’t have an intent to do so in the near future, you won’t need one. However, it can get more complicated depending on your business concept and how it fits into local brewing regulations or consumption laws.

It could also depend on where your business is located, as there may be legal drinking age requirements or licensing fees associated with getting an alcohol permit.

In summary:

If your business structure doesn’t fit the criteria for any of the existing TABC Liquor licenses (retailer’s permits), other required conduct surety bonds might apply. But generally speaking, if you’re not selling alcoholic beverages, then no liquor license will be necessary for the operation of your establishment or business entity.

Types of Liquor Licenses

Types of Liquor Licenses
If you are looking to serve alcohol in your business, there are two different types of liquor licenses that you need to be aware of: on-premises and off-premises. On-premises liquor licenses give businesses the right to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on their premises, while off-premises permits allow them to distribute and/or store alcohol for sale elsewhere.

It is important that you understand these differences before applying for any type of license as it can have a significant effect on how your business operates.

On-Premises Liquor License

Experience a night of fun and excitement with an On-Premises Liquor License! This kind of license allows you to import, serve, and sell alcohol in your business. It’s important to understand the regulations when it comes to liquor laws as failure to obtain the right permit can lead to hefty fines or closure.

Depending on where you are located, different fees may apply for this particular type of license. These fees include malt beverage retailer’s permits or private club permits, which must be obtained separately from other required conduct surety bonds for any business activity related to alcoholic beverages.

Make sure that all necessary steps have been taken prior so that your event is compliant with state law.

Off-Premises Liquor License

With an Off-Premises Liquor License, you can purchase and transport alcohol for personal consumption. According to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, in 2019, more than 5 million off-premise retail liquor licenses were issued across the United States.

These permits allow businesses to serve free adult beverages at parties or have a couple of other subordinate permits, such as bar regulations or underage drinking laws in place.

With this license, there is also typically a grace period before any fines or violations are enforced on mixed beverage permit holders who use alcohol for off-premises consumption.

Important Restrictions for Liquor License Holders

Important Restrictions for Liquor License Holders
Holding a liquor license comes with certain restrictions, so it’s important to understand them before you apply.

A common thread across all states’ Alcoholic Beverage Codes are taxation rules, legal obligations for public consumption and minors’ access, as well as the frequency of license renewals.

In Texas, businesses must also comply with the new alcohol-to-go law, which allows customers to purchase sealed alcoholic beverages from restaurants or bars for takeout purposes if their business plan includes takeout services.

Every state has its own set of laws that govern how businesses can sell and distribute alcohol responsibly in accordance with local regulations. Understanding these requirements is essential when applying for a liquor license in your area.

It’s important to keep up on new legislation related to selling or distributing alcoholic beverages within your jurisdiction.

How to Obtain a Liquor License

How to Obtain a Liquor License
To obtain a liquor permit, you must first understand and comply with the laws in your jurisdiction. This includes researching local serving regulations, license requirements for your area, zoning laws that apply to alcohol sales, as well as age restrictions.

You also need to be aware of any legal liabilities when it comes to selling alcoholic beverages in certain locations or offering free beer without a proper license.

In bigger cities like New York City and Chicago, there are additional steps involved in obtaining a liquor license due to the complex nature of business operations related to buying and selling alcohol within city limits.

If you’re having difficulty understanding the process, it can help to watch YouTube videos on how other entrepreneurs have gone about getting licensed in similar situations before starting up their own business venture.

Finally, keep an eye out for new legislation passed at both state and federal levels regarding purchasing or distributing alcohol so that all legalities are being followed properly throughout the course of owning this type of establishment.

Otherwise, fines may occur if found operating outside these boundaries set forth by law enforcement officials.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How much does a liquor license cost?

The cost of a liquor license varies depending on the type and location. The fees can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, so it’s important to research your local regulations before purchasing one.

How long does it take to get a liquor license?

Getting a liquor license doesn’t have to be an arduous task. In fact, it can take as little as one week if you know the rules and regulations! So don’t wait; get your permit today and start serving drinks in no time.

Are there any additional fees associated with a liquor license?

Yes, in most states, there are additional fees associated with a liquor license. On average, the cost of a new or renewal license is around $3,200; however, this amount may vary depending on the location and type of business.

Are there any special requirements to obtain a liquor license?

Obtaining a liquor license requires special considerations. You must submit an application, pay applicable fees, and meet various regulatory requirements depending on your state or locality. Additionally, you may need to prove that you have necessary training in alcohol service and face other restrictions.

Are there any special restrictions on the sale of alcohol in certain areas?

Like a maze, the sale of alcohol in certain areas can be tricky to navigate. Depending on laws and regulations, restrictions may apply – from hours allowed for sale to types of venues that are permitted.

Local governments often have authority over these matters, so it’s important to check with them before making any purchases or sales.


In conclusion, obtaining a liquor license can be a daunting task. But the effort is worth it as it opens up a world of possibilities for your business. With the right license, you can pour drinks, serve food, and share your passion with customers.

Be sure to understand all the restrictions and regulations that come with a liquor license. With the right guidance, you can make your business a success in no time. So, go ahead and take the plunge and get the license you need to make your dreams a reality.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and agriculture expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of people make their yards lush and thick.