Most successful bars and restaurants need a liquor license to keep their customers happy, no matter who they cater to. Without a California spirits license, you could face serious fines and other penalties if you choose to serve alcohol. This misdemeanor offense is publishable by up to six months in prison and a $1,000 fine. You might also lose the chance to get a liquor license again in the future, since the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) has the right to deny your application.
Applying for a California Liquor License
Actually getting your license can be tricky and intimidating, however. The process starts with an application at the nearest California ABC office. The law requires all applicants to be present. If you’re transferring a spirits license from one person to another, which may be necessary if you’ve recently purchased a business, both the original license holder and the person who will receive the license have to be present.
Paying for an Alcohol License in California
You’ll also have to pay an annual fee to keep your liquor license, plus an up-front cost to get the license. The up-front cost may be slightly less or much more than the annual fee, with costs ranging between $100 to $200 to sell bear or bear and wine to as high as $12,000 to $13,000 for general spirits sales. Renewal costs are between $108 and $876, depending on the type of license and as of 2012.
It can take a long time to get your alcohol license in California, too. The law requires the ABC to mail a copy of your application to local officials over a 30 day posting period, with the actual investigation taking between 45 and 50 days. This means that licenses are supposed to take craft beer hong kong between 75 and 90 days to be processed fully. Many people find that the amount of time it takes to receive their California spirits license far exceeds this time period, however.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, small business owners waited six months or more to get their licenses in 2010, when furloughs and computer problems delayed the processing time by several hundred percent. Some businesses had to operate without a license, unable to sell beer, wine or liquor to their customers, or use a temporary license that requires cash payments to vendors. While spirits licensing times can vary a lot, this type of delay can be a real headache for business owners.
Not all businesses have trouble getting their California liquor licenses, of course. Many get through the paperwork without much trouble at all. If you’re worried that you might not be one of them, consider talking to an expert to help smooth your way and avoid getting tied up in red tape.