How to get a liquor license in Alabama
Consuming alcohol (responsibly) is a pastime that’s shown no signs of slowing down throughout the centuries, so profiting off of others’ delight in imbibing is a very safe and rational business model.
If you reside in the State of Alabama and you’re thinking about getting into the alcohol serving or distribution business, you’ll need to secure a liquor license. The following steps will help guide you through the liquor license application process, preparing you for what you’ll need and what you’ll need to do to serve the great people of Alabama their tasty adult libations.
1. Alabama liquor license requirements and laws
In Alabama, the liquor license application process is run by the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board—or ABC Board—located in Montgomery, Alabama. To qualify for a liquor license, you’ll need to set up an appointment with the licensing division of the ABC Board in the county in which you reside.
The cost and application process for securing a liquor license will vary depending on the liquor license you need, so you’ll want to review the pre-application packet and checklist on the Alabama ABC Board website (https://alabcboard.gov) as a starting point. The checklist will highlight the paperwork and documents you’ll need on hand for your ABC Board license appointment, including any identification documents and insurance certificates. You can also obtain more information at your local city hall, city council meetings, or city clerk’s office.
Identification and background check
As part of the initial steps for securing an Alabama liquor license, you'll need to receive a background check from both the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Alabama Bureau of Investigation (ABI), along with fingerprinting, all of which can be handled at the district office closest to you. Be aware you’ll also be on the hook to cover any costs associated with fingerprinting or background checks, so budget accordingly. You can obtain this official background check paperwork at your local police department or law enforcement office.
If you pass the fingerprinting and background check requirements, your next step is filling out the information on the ABC application form and checklist, which consists of the following information and documentation: A copy of your lease or deed, your company’s formation documents, copies of your driver’s license or military ID, proof of citizenship, power of attorney paperwork, and proof of liquor liability insurance.
If you’re planning to serve alcohol on the premises, you’ll also need to provide a rendering of the premises. You’ll then need to bring your pre-application form and all of the other requested documentation to your county’s local ABC Board licensing division and pay a $50 application fee or transfer fee via credit card, personal check, or business check.
Transferring a license
Transferring an alcoholic beverage license in Alabama is a pretty straightforward process. To transfer your ABC license to another party, you’ll need to adhere to the following protocols:
- You’ll need to confirm the applicant has obtained a liquor liability insurance certificate
- You’ll need to provide your original ABC license
- You’ll need to show up in the flesh to sign the applicant’s transfer agreement
If your business operates within the zoning limits of the municipality of Mobile, you must pay all of your taxes before the transfer process can officially take effect.
2. Types of Alabama liquor licenses
There are three main types of liquor licenses available in Alabama, each associated with different parts of the sale of alcoholic beverages supply chain.
In-State Permits and Licenses for the sale of alcohol at establishments like restaurants and liquor stores:
- The Lounge Retail Liquor License—Class I
- The Lounge Retail Liquor License—Class II
- The Restaurant Retail Liquor License
- The Club Liquor License—Class I
- The Club Liquor License—Class II
- The Retail Beer License—on-premises or off-premises consumption
- The Retail Beer License—off-premises consumption only
- The Retail Table Wine License—on-premises or off-premises consumption
- The Retail Table Wine License—off-premises consumption only
The Direct Wine Shipper or Wine Fulfillment Licenses for liquor, beer, and wine wholesalers:
- The Liquor Wholesale License
- The Beer Wholesale License
- The Wholesale Table Wine License—16.5% or less
- The Wholesale Table Wine and Beer Combined License
- The Warehouse License
- The Additional Warehouse License
- The Special Events Retail License
- The Special Retail License—30 days or less
- The Special Retails License—30 days or more
- The Retail Common Carrier License
- The Manufacturer License
- The Importer License
- The Wine Festival License
- The Wine Festival Participant License
- The Brewpub License
- The Direct Wine Shipper License
- The Wine Fulfillment Center License
The Delivery Service Licenses are for the transportation of alcohol within the state:
- The Delivery Service License
All of the above state licenses only apply to the retail, manufacturing, sale, serving, transportation, or storing of alcoholic beverages for profit within the state.
3. Can I get a one-day liquor license in Alabama?
Alabama does not provide a one-day liquor license. If you only need a liquor license for a short period, consider purchasing the Special Retail License for 30 days or less, which costs a license fee of $100. Remember that you’ll still need to complete the aforementioned ABC license application process, even though its use would only be for 1 day.
4. How much does an Alabama liquor license cost?
Depending on the type of liquor license you need, the ABC liquor license cost in Alabama ranges from $100 to $1,000. Licenses can be renewed annually from June 1st through July 31st and expire each year on September 30th.
Adding to the Alabama liquor license cost is the mandatory purchase of liquor liability insurance. The minimum liquor liability insurance policy you’ll need is $100,000.
To protect your business and its future growth, you can snag a liquor liability insurance policy along with your restaurant and bar insurance or your catering operation, depending on the nature of your business.
Additionally, if you have 5 or more employees on your payroll, you’ll need to protect them and your business from unforeseen accidents with workers' compensation insurance.
Operate your company knowing you’re protected against several risks and unforeseen events. For all things business insurance, check out Huckleberry.
In less time than it takes to fix up an Alabama Bushwacker, Huckleberry can provide you with insurance quotes and policy options that meet your business needs, safeguarding your bar or restaurant today and in the years to come.