How to get a liquor license in Oklahoma
Selling alcoholic beverages at a place of business opens the door to a whole lot of opportunities.
To tap into the growth that offering alcohol service can bring to a business, you will need an Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement (ABLE) license. The process has been deemed “quick and easy” by Oklahoma small business owners. However, be sure to read between the lines, as there are a lot of specifics.
The ABLE Commission can help you navigate all this and more, but let’s dive into the basics.
Oklahoma liquor license requirements
Oklahoma liquor licenses are dispensed by the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission (ABLE), located in Oklahoma City. It takes approximately 30 days to receive a liquor license from the Oklahoma ABLE Commission once the application form is filled out and approved.
There are a few key steps in the application process to keep in mind if you are a licensee:
- Filling out the general application immigration affidavit
- Paying the appropriate fees
- Submitting your application to ABLE with a Certificate of Compliance
- Information regarding obtaining this certificate can be found here
The location of your business is important when it comes to obtaining an alcoholic beverage license. Why is that? There are a couple of good reasons:
- The state will only approve a new license for a business operating from a completely constructed building or a building within 60 days of completion of construction
- Your city or county must issue a Certificate of Compliance that states zoning, fire, health, and safety information of compliance. As a result, your location will be publicly listed
- A lease agreement is required, but only if a management agreement, deed, or sales contract cannot be provided
Sales Tax Permit
A Sales Tax Permit from the Oklahoma Tax Commission is also required. A Mixed Beverage Tax Permit may be required if you plan to sell mixed beverages.
If you are in a city like Tulsa, you will need a County Beverage Permit in addition to a Sales Tax and Mixed Beverage Permit. Be sure to contact your city for more information on this.
Depending on the type of business, you may need to provide additional documentation. Say you are an incorporated brewer—you would need to provide a Certificate of Good Standing from the Oklahoma Secretary of State, a Certificate of Incorporation, and a copy of a Basic Federal Permit from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Bureau (TTB). There is no cost to apply for or obtain approval from the TBB to run your business at the federal level.
First, you will need to determine your permit type and business type using the provided descriptions on the site. Then, visit Permits Online to complete and submit your application.
Keep in mind; if you are serving food on premises in addition to alcohol, you will need a food service license. A Food Establishment Inspection will be conducted as a part of the licensing process.
You can obtain an Oklahoma food service license here.
Types of Oklahoma liquor licenses
There are several types of liquor licenses in the State of Oklahoma. You will need to determine whether you want to serve beer, wine, spirits, or all 3. The 7 main types of liquor licenses are as follows:
- Employee license: According to Oklahoma Statute Title 37A from the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, an employee license is required for any employee selling or serving alcoholic beverages in any place where such beverages are sold, mixed, or served. It is typically required before server training takes place, and you must be 18 years of age to obtain an ABLE employee license for selling and serving beer and wine. It is important to note that you must be 21 to sell and serve in package stores and mixed beverage establishments.
- Airline and railroad: If your business operates an airliner, railroad, or commercial passenger vessel, you are required to hold a liquor license in the State of Oklahoma (if this is the state in which you operate the business). If you cross into another state’s territory, you are subject to the state laws of that territory.
- Bottle club: A bottle club is any club that serves patrons who previously purchased or reserved alcoholic beverages after legal closing hours. Fraternal organizations are one example of a bottle club.
- Low-Point Beer License: If you plan to serve low-point beer on or off-premises, you will need a Low Point Beer License. Any beverage containing more than ½ of 1% alcohol by volume and not more than 3.2% alcohol by weight is considered low-point.
- Distributor: The distributor liquor license is dependent on what you are distributing beer, wine, spirits, or all the above. If you are a beer distributor, you will need to provide a Certificate of Liability Insurance, Certificate of Compliance, and a Tax Statement from your county treasurer.
- Wholesaler: There are two types of wholesaler applications: Class B Wholesaler and Wine and Spirits Wholesaler. A Class B Wholesaler is any individual or partnership licensed to sell beer or brewed products to a retail store, caterer, or event.
- Retail: If you are a retailer such as a convenience store or grocery store and wish to sell alcohol, you will need to apply for a retail beer and wine license. Since most grocery store chains are incorporated, you will also be required to provide a Certificate of Incorporation.
- Events: A special event license is valid for 1 year from the date of issuance, and each event can last up to 10 days. There are two types of licenses for both public events and private events: a quarterly special events license and an annual special events license.
- Manufacturer: A manufacturer liquor license is required for winemakers, brewers, and distillers. In addition to the Certificate of Liability Insurance and Basic Federal Permit, a Certificate of Authority, Oklahoma Price Posting, and Price Posting Affidavit for non-designated products are required.
Can I get a one-day liquor license in Oklahoma?
As mentioned earlier, If you are hosting an event, you can get a special events license. However, there is no one-day-only liquor license available in Oklahoma. Licenses are either quarterly or annual.
It is important to keep in mind that a quarterly special events license authorizes up to 3 events, and an annual license authorizes 4 events. However, more than 2 events in 3 months are not authorized.
Here are the circumstances in which a special events license is required:
- The event is open to the public, and alcohol sales are made.
- There is a cash bar at the event.
- There is a cover charge or donation required to attend the event, and alcohol is provided.
How much does an Oklahoma liquor license cost?
License application fees vary depending on the type of business and corresponding license. You can find a full list of fees here, but they generally run between $50 and $6,000 for first-time applicants.
For example, say you are opening a restaurant but are only selling beer and wine—your yearly license fee would be $525. If you were to hold a series of special events, that fee would be $55.
If you wish to continue selling alcohol, there are renewal fees to keep your license in place. These fees depend on the type of license you have been issued. So, for that same restaurant selling only beer and wine, the renewal fee would be $475.