Alcoholic Beverage License

Kentucky ABC License (Beer, Liquor, or Wine Permit)

General Information

The Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) is in charge of administering and enforcing Kentucky’s alcoholic beverage laws. The state ABC also processes applications for and issues liquor licenses. In addition, there are city, county, and urban county ABC administrators throughout Kentucky. These local administrators must approve all license applications before they will be reviewed by the state ABC. KRS 243.370.

There are 84 different license types. Most licenses pertain to distilled spirits (liquor) and wine or to malt beverages (beer). Licenses are not available statewide. Alcoholic beverage licenses may only be issued in larger cities and counties in Kentucky or where the locality has voted in favor of allowing alcoholic beverage sales. See KRS Chapter 242 and KRS 243.230.

An ABC license may be issued for up to 1 year. KRS 243.090(1). License periods are staggered according to county and zip code (for larger counties) so that all licenses do not expire at the same time.

A temporary license may be issued for an organized charitable, civic, or community sponsored event such as a picnic, carnival, fair, festival, exposition, racing association, political campaign function, or other party. 804 KAR 4:250(3). It is not available for an event solely based upon a holiday or a private commercial venture. A temporary license allows the holder to exercise the same privileges as an ABC license holder at a fraction of the cost. If issued, the temporary license is valid throughout the length of the event, up to 30 days. KRS 243.260(1).

Purpose/Necessity

A person or business interested in selling, producing, transporting, or storing alcoholic beverages in Kentucky must first obtain one or more ABC licenses. According to KRS 243.020(1), “A person shall not do any act authorized by any kind of license with respect to the manufacture, storage, sale, purchase, transporting, or other traffic in alcoholic beverages unless he holds the kind of license that authorizes the act.” There are various penalties for operating without the proper license(s). Usually, the violation of a liquor law is a Class B misdemeanor for the first offense, with elevated penalties for subsequent violations. KRS 243.990.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • I’ve received notification that my license might be revoked / suspended / cancelled? Will you represent me?
    • Our firm no longer takes clients facing license revocation, suspension, or cancellation proceedings. We strictly offer application services at this time.
  • If the application is completed and all required attachments are concluded, will a liquor license be issued?
    • Not necessarily. There are quotas placed on the amount of licenses that may be issued in any particular city or county. See KRS 241.065 & 804 KAR 9:010-050. There are restrictions on how close one licensed premises may be to another. See KRS 241.075. There are rules against holding certain licenses simultaneously. See KRS 243.110 & 804 KAR 4:015. Zoning restrictions, occupancy limits, required degree of food sales, and other matters complicate the process further.It is best to talk to an attorney familiar with all these sorts of matters before applying. That way, time and expense is not wasted seeking a license that will not be issued.
  • Who may obtain a Kentucky liquor license?
    • An individual or a business entity may obtain a Kentucky liquor license if the eligibility requirements of KRS 243.100 are met. Most applicants are business entities, and the eligibility requirements apply to all business members, directors, principal officers, and managers. The requirements are:
      1. Age 21 or older
      2. Not convicted of felony within the last 5 years
      3. Not convicted of a drug-related misdemeanor within the last 2 years
      4. Not convicted of an alcohol-related misdemeanor within the last 2 years
      5. Liquor license has not been revoked for cause or for conviction of a liquor statute within the last 2 years
  • How much will the license cost?
    • The cost of a license depends on the type of licenses, the number of licenses, and the city and county where the business is located. KRS 243.030 & KRS 243.040. There will be state license fees, city and county license fees, and incidental application charges (obtaining criminal records reports, publishing a notice in the local newspaper, etc.). State license fees run from $25 for an agent/solicitor license to $7,500 for an entertainment destination center license.The applicant has the opportunity to select which beverages it may serve (beer, liquor, or wine) and how the beverages may be sold (by the package, by the drink, or sampling), though each selection adds to the license fee. A typical bar or restaurant should expect to pay several thousand dollars annually to maintain its licenses.
  • How long does it take to obtain a Kentucky liquor license?
    • Many steps must be taken before a Kentucky liquor license will be issued. The applicant must properly complete and submit the relevant materials first to the local ABC administrator and then to the state ABC. KRS 243.370. If the application is incomplete or the correct fees are not included, the application will be rejected. KRS 243.430(1). If a license is not issued, the application fees will be refunded, less $50 retained by the ABC as a processing charge. KRS 243.030 & KRS 243.040.If the application was properly completed, and all required materials are included, it should take approximately 30-50 days for the state ABC to reach a decision. At minimum, a license may not be issued until 30 days after the newspaper publication of the notice of intention to apply for an ABC license. KRS 243.360 & KRS 243.430(2).An attorney knowledgeable about the requirements may help expedite the process. This is especially important if the license will be required within the next several months.
  • Will one license cover the entire establishment?
    • Probably not. Licenses are generally based on the type of beverage to be sold (beer, liquor, wine) and how the beverage will be consumed (by the package, by the drink, or through sampling). Multiple licenses would be required if, for example, an establishment sought to sell beer, liquor, and wine by the drink.A supplemental bar license is required for each bar or counter in addition to the main bar where liquor or wine is sold by the drink. KRS 244.330 & KRS 243.037(1). A Sunday sales license is required in cities and counties which have permitted such sales. KRS 244.290, KRS 244.295, & KRS 244.480.An attorney may help a business owner determine which types of licenses will best serve the business’ needs.
  • As the new owner of a business that previously sold alcoholic beverages, may I continue to use the former establishment’s license until it expires?
    • No. When a premises is sold, the buyer cannot use the seller’s license before obtaining his or her own. KRS 243.630. Instead, while an ongoing business is being purchased, the purchaser may apply for a transitional license to maintain an active ABC license for the business. A transitional license is only available for those applying for a regular ABC license. KRS 243.045(1)(a). It may be issued for up to 90 days (with an extension) and expires when a regular license is issued. KRS 243.045(2).

Legal Services Offered and Cost

Apply for Kentucky Liquor License
Legal fees: $500 flat fee
Filing fees and other costs: varies
This includes:

  1. Verify that applicant meets all statutory eligibility requirements
  2. Confirm that liquor license is available in locality and at client’s desired business location
  3. Review other eligibility/availability issues: incompatible licenses, occupancy limits, food sales, etc.
  4. Determine which licenses to apply for, when to apply, and required fees
  5. Apply for transitional license to maintain an existing ABC license during period of business transfer, if necessary
  6. Completion of basic application and appropriate schedules for the license types desired and compile all mandatory documentation
  7. Obtain criminal record reports
  8. Complete newspaper publication and affidavit requirement
  9. Complete all other required forms and verifications: revenue, health department, zoning, fire inspection, etc.
  10. Obtain approval from local (city or county) ABC administrator
  11. Submission of all application materials and fees to state ABC office
  12. Advice on how to maintain a liquor license and avoid license revocation

If you are ready to get started, please CLICK HERE to enter basic information using our secure online form.

 

Apply for Temporary Kentucky Liquor License
Please be aware that a temporary license will only be issued for an organized charitable, civic, or community sponsored event such as a picnic, carnival, fair, festival, exposition, racing association, political campaign function, or other party. An event solely based upon a holiday or a private commercial venture does not qualify.

Legal fees: hourly
Filing fees and other costs: varies

This includes:

  1. Verify that applicant meets all statutory eligibility requirements
  2. Completion of temporary license application and compile all mandatory documentation
  3. Obtain criminal record reports
  4. Obtain approval from local (city or county) ABC administrator
  5. Submission of all application materials and fees to state ABC office

If you are ready to get started, please CLICK HERE to enter basic information using our secure online form.

 

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