A liquor license is a key component for many businesses in California. For restaurants, liquor sales can mean the difference between success and failure. For wineries, craft breweries and distilleries, liquor service and sales are their whole reason for existing. However, you can’t simply open your doors and start serving to a thirsty public. You will need to obtain a liquor license. The process for doing so has many steps that you will need to follow.

Location, location, location

It might seem obvious, but the first thing you need to do is to select a location for your business. Liquor licenses are tied to the location as much as they are to the license holder. It’s usually best to purchase or rent the space for your business before you even begin the application process. You will also have to have a professional survey conducted on your property.

Determine which type of license you need

There’s no such thing as a blanket liquor license. There are different types of licenses for different types of businesses. If you are selling directly to the public, you will need one type of license. If you are solely going into manufacturing, you will need a different type of license.

Apply and wait

Once you’ve picked out your location and have figured out the type of license you need, you will have to submit an application to the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC). You will then have to wait at least a month.

Notice must be given to the general public of your intention to sell or manufacture alcoholic beverages. The public then has 30 days to register any objections to your plan. If there are no objections, the ABC will launch a fact-finding investigation. This will typically involve background checks, and you may have to submit to an interview. If everything is above board, the ABC should mail a valid liquor license to your place of business.

As you can see, obtaining a liquor license can be a complicated process. The above is only a broad overview. You may have to jump through additional hoops depending on your business plan. A legal professional can help you with the application process to help you avoid any unforeseen headaches.