Applying for a California Liquor License Soon? Here’s How to Do It Right.

Many first-time restaurateurs, bar owners, or liquor store owners are confused about the process of obtaining a California liquor license.

Yes, both the state, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, and the counties does impose plenty of rules that needs to be met.

For one, almost all requires an alcohol tax bond prior to the issuance of a license.

We’re not going to lie. Acquiring a liquor license in California is a lengthy process. Straightforward, but lengthy.

So please, bear with us while will give you a complete rundown of what needs to be done.

Let’s start by determining which type of license you need.


Step 1: Go to the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) District

Office nearest you

When you visit an ABC District Office nearest you, you will be informed about the license type that’s suitable for your intended business operation.

You will be advised on the following as well:

  • Appropriate California liquor license forms that you need
  • License fee
  • Getting approval from zoning officials
  • Acquiring a copy of Notice of Intended Transfer
  • Opening an escrow


Step 2: Filing your California liquor license application

Again, you have to physically go to the nearest ABC District Office when you file your license application.

Here are some of the California liquor license application requirements that you need to provide:

  • Completed application form
  • The form of business entity you’re planning to establish
  • A sufficient alcohol tax bond
  • A detailed description of your business operation
  • Your escrow information
  • A list of your liquor license expenses such as the license fee
  • Personal background profiles of all persons who have a financial interest in the business
  • Personal and financial history affidavits
  • A layout of the business location including the nearby properties
  • Sources of funds for the purchase of the liquor license
  • List of people who are residing within 100 and 500 feet of the proposed business location
  • List of schools, churches, or playgrounds within 600 feet from the proposed business location


Make sure that you have submitted all the required documents on time to avoid any delay. Check for incorrect documents as well.  A lien placed on the escrow may also cause the delay of the license issuance.


Step 3: ABC Investigation

ABC will conduct a mandatory investigation on the license applicant and the place where the applicant intends to manufacture, store, or sell liquor.

They will check whether the place adheres to the zoning law, or if the business will not become a problem in the area among others.

The license applicant will need to put up a Public Notice for Application for 30 days within the business location.

In some cases, the liquor license applicant will be asked to send a notice to anyone who’s living within the 500-meter radius or publish a notice in the newspaper.


Step 4: California liquor license application review and


The Division Office will perform an initial review on your liquor license application. Your application will then be sent to the Headquarters for the final review.

The issuance of your license will happen soon after as long as there are no protests made on the application.

Liquor license applications that are not protested will usually be released within 55-65 days.

If someone has protested your liquor license application – but the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has already recommended its approval – you may be eligible to obtain an Interim Operating Permit by submitting a written request to ABC.


Do you need an alcohol tax bond immediately? GET YOUR FREE SURETY BOND QUOTE from us today!

An alcohol tax bond amount will vary per license applicant. The bond amount will be based on the amount set by the California State Board of Equalization, the license applicant's credit score, financial strength, and business history.

Check out this Infographic!

"Applying for a California Liquor License"

Applying for Liquor License in California Infographic
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