How to get a liquor license in Missouri
Getting a liquor license in Missouri can be a significant undertaking. But it’s an effort that can pay off—the state has a rich history of liquor, and the beer industry alone contributes $10.2 billion to the state’s economy.
If you’re looking for a Missouri liquor license, you’ll quickly discover the application process varies depending on the type of license you need. However, with a bit of preparation in advance, you’ll soon have your liquor license in hand.
Missouri liquor license requirements and laws
License requirements, liquor laws, and processing can be different based on the type of liquor license you need. In some locations, you can apply for a liquor license in person at the local city hall.
The Missouri Department of Public Safety Alcohol and Tobacco Control office, located in Jefferson City, has checklists by license type available on its website. However, you’ll experience many of the same rules no matter which kind you choose.
Identification and background check
Missouri takes liquor liability seriously. When submitting your application form, you must include proper identification, contact information, proof of voter registration, and a criminal record check.
Your criminal record check must be from the Missouri State Highway Patrol and no more than 6 months old. The state has an online portal if you want a same-day record check. Otherwise, you can request it by mail—just be aware that mail processing takes 4 to 6 weeks.
The owner, partners, and managing officers must all complete a records check. In addition, a naturalization certificate or passport is necessary if the owner, partner, or manager officer was born outside of the U.S.
Sales tax license and tax receipt
Before submitting your application, you must have a Missouri sales tax license. You can get this by registering with the Missouri Department of Revenue online or by mail. If you use the online business registration system, you can easily register for sales tax and withholding tax (if you plan to hire employees) from the same site.
A copy of the paid tax receipt is also required from the owner, partners, or managing officers. The receipt must prove that you paid personal property taxes or real estate taxes for the preceding year. If you had no tax due, a waiver of non-assessment would satisfy this requirement.
Some Missouri liquor license applications require you to have a federal permit from the U.S. Department of Treasury Alcohol Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). For example, if you’re requesting a wholesale liquor license, you must have a manufacturer permit, Brewer’s Notice, or wholesaler permit.
The TTB has an industry startup tutorial that walks licensees through how to get the permit according to the kind of liquor they want to sell (beer, wine, or distilled spirits).
You must have photographs of the owner, partners, or managing officer. Color photos are preferred, but grayscale or black and white computer printouts are okay, too. You’ll attach the photos to the second page of the application or include them separately.
A photo of the building is also required on page 5 of the application. Take a picture of the front of the building, and make sure it includes any exterior areas (patio, deck, sidewalk cafe) your restaurant or bar or facility might have. Like with the owner photographs, you can submit a grayscale or black and white computer printout of the building.
Contracts and agreements
If you have a lease or rental agreement for your business, you’ll need to include that with your application. For example, if you and your business partner rent space for your catering business, make sure the contract contains the correct legal name of the liquor license applicant and the physical address of the building.
You may also need a Certificate of Good Standing from the Secretary of State Corporations Division. However, according to the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control checklists, this doesn't apply to sole proprietors or general partnerships.
If you’re serving alcoholic beverages “by the drink,” your company will need to have a health inspection. The local health department near your business location can help you schedule a time. Send a copy of the completed health inspection along with your liquor license application.
Resident corporation status
While it doesn’t apply to retail businesses, a wholesale liquor control license might need your company to qualify as a resident corporation.
The Revised Statutes of Missouri (RSMO) can require resident corporation status for corporations or LLCs (limited liability companies) applying for a wholesale license in some situations.
Types of Missouri liquor licenses
The state of Missouri has several types of liquor licenses. Generally, they fall into 6 categories:
- Retail licenses
- Wholesaler licenses
- Wine direct shipper
- Warehouse or licensed off-site storage
- Manufacturer licenses
- Solicitor licenses
Your business type determines which license is best for you. For example, a caterer would need to apply for a retail drink license. They could choose whether to request a license for Sunday sales; beer only; beer and wine only; or beer, wine, and spirits, depending on their business needs.
Or, if you have a retail store, you could apply for a license to sell original package liquor. The license would generally include spirits, wine, and beer sales, but it wouldn’t allow customers to consume it on the licensed premises (your place of business).
Can I get a one-day liquor license in Missouri?
Yes, a one-day state liquor license is available through the county clerk. It falls under a temporary retailers license and can include a:
- Picnic license for not-for-profit organizations
- Beer and light wine license for 4th of July celebrations
- Caterers permit to serve alcoholic beverages at a particular function
- Festival permit for events of 5,000 or more people
Additional requirements can apply for temporary licenses in Missouri, so check with your local county clerk for guidance.
How much does a Missouri liquor license cost?
How much you’ll pay for a license depends on the type you need for your business. The Missouri Alcohol and Tobacco Control website has a complete listing of new liquor license fees. Some, like a wine direct shipper or alcohol carrier, have no cost. But generally, you’ll pay between $10 and $1,000.
And if you’re starting a new business or expanding an existing one, here’s a quick reminder that you’ll need liquor liability insurance in addition to your small business coverage—and we can help. All it takes is 5 minutes to get an online quote with Huckleberry.