Liquor Licensing 101

Liquor Licensing 101

October 22, 2021

Liquor 101: The State of Florida strictly regulates the production, sale and distribution of alcohol. However, alcohol licensing laws in Florida can be complex. Keep reading to find out all about liquor licensing in the state and how it affects your business.

Who Needs a Liquor License in Florida?

Anyone who produces, distributes, or sells alcohol must first obtain a liquor license from the State of Florida. In some cases, depending on the type of business, you may also have to obtain special licensing from your local jurisdiction.

Businesses that offer alcohol as part of a package or a ticket entry fee are also can also be subject to liquor licensing requirements. Complicating matters further, offering alcohol as an amenity as part of another paid service could also be considered selling alcoholic beverages depending on the circumstances and business.

Who Regulates the Laws?

The State of Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (DABT) is the agency responsible for issuing liquor licenses. The agency is also responsible for enforcing alcohol laws within the state, which includes collecting and auditing all taxes and fees related to the sale of alcohol.

Florida Liquor License Types?

Florida offers a variety of different types of alcohol licenses depending on the type of business and how you intend to operate. The state has specific licenses for alcohol manufacturers, distributors, and retailers like restaurants, hotels, bars, nightclubs, and lounges.

Each of the licenses dictates the specific types of activities allowed and the alcohol license privileges. For example, with a 4COP SFS license, you could sell beer, wine, and spirits if your business qualifies as a bona fide restaurant. However, a 2COP alcohol licensee is limited to selling beer and wine only. There are a variety of different license types and applying for the correct license is critical for business success and compliance operations. Unfortunately, making sense of it all can quickly become overwhelming.

Florida Liquor License Cost

All alcohol licenses must be applied for and issued by the DABT. However, quota licenses which allow the sale of beer, wine and spirits without regard to food sales, must be purchased from an existing license holder and then transferred to your business. The cost will depend on the county where the business is located, but the price can range from $75,000 to more than $750,000, depending on availability and demand. Keep in mind, when transferring licenses, there may be other fees involved and timing delays.

New Alcohol Licensing Laws

Florida also has laws permitting some businesses, depending on the type of alcohol license they carry, to sell alcohol online for direct delivery to consumers. However, these are strictly regulated and only apply to specific circumstances and conditions.

For example, a few years ago, the state adopted new regulations allowing third-party entities like common carriers and delivery services (e.g., Uber East) to deliver alcohol from restaurants, grocery stores, and liquor stores. However, these new regulations come with a lot of requirements, such as checking IDs and packaging specifications.

The bottom line is that these laws are complex, and the average business owner could get lost trying to figure it all out.

Where to Turn for Help

Compliance with state and local laws is going to be vital to obtaining and keeping your alcohol license active and in good standing. You may have trouble figuring out what type of license is best for your business. It is essential to consult with an experienced liquor license and alcohol law attorney when making these critical decisions for your company. One misstep could mean the loss of alcohol sales privileges for your business.

If you need help with your liquor license, contact Spiritus Law today.


Tags: Alcohol Industryalcohol laws floridaalcohol laws