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California Alcohol Laws: Transferring California Liquor Licenses (Part 1)

The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (CA ABC) allows alcohol On-Sale and Off-Sale retail licenses to be transferred:

  • from a license holder to another person

OR

  • from one premises to another

Before we go any further, we’d like note that the easiest way to learn about California Alcohol Laws is to complete and/or require all staff to complete a CA RBS Training which also teaches practical techniques for following and enforcing California Liquor laws within your establishment.

Now, here are some Q&A’s to help answer any questions you may have regarding transferring alcohol/liquor licenses within California State!

Is there a limit to how many Off-Sale CA alcohol licenses (liquor stores, beer & wine stores, etc.) can be in a county at one time?

Yes! There can only be one off-sale license per every 2500 people in a county. To put this into perspective, there are a little over 10 million people in LA county which means there can only be 4,000 off-sale liquor licenses within LA County at any given time.

Additionally, the number of off-sale licenses cannot be increased by more than 25 new (original) licenses, or 10% of the total off-sale licenses within a given year. When considering LA County, 25 new licenses per year isn’t much, and this limit also includes transfers!

Is there a limit to how many On-Sale CA alcohol licenses (restaurants, bars, etc.) can be in a county at one time?

Yes! There can only be one on-sale license per every 2000 people in a county. To put this into perspective, there are a little over 10 million people in LA county, so there can only be 5,000 on-sale liquor licenses within LA County at any given time.

Additionally, the number of on-sale licenses cannot be increased by more than 25 new (original) licenses, or 10% of the total on-sale licenses within a given year. When considering LA County, 25 new licenses per year isn’t much, and this limit also includes transfers!

How much does it cost to transfer a California On/Off-Sale Liquor License to another person?

Typically, the fee for transferring a retail license from the license holder to another person is 50% of the original license fee, but this fee cannot legally exceed $1,250.00. However, if there was not an original fee provided for the liquor license by law, the cost for transferring the liquor license should not exceed $100.00.

How much does it cost to transfer a California On/Off-Sale Liquor License to another location?

It costs $100.00 to transfer a CA liquor license to another location as long as the new location is within the same county.

How much does it cost to transfer a California On/Off-Sale Liquor License to another county?

It costs $6,000.00 to transfer a CA liquor license to another county.

Can I transfer my Liquor License to another person whenever I would like?

Technically, you are not permitted to transfer your liquor license to another person for at least two years from the issuance of your CA liquor license unless the ABC determines the transfer is necessary to prevent “undue hardship”.

Is there a limit to how much I can sell my liquor license for?

Possibly. If it’s been less than 5 years from your liquor license’s previous transfer, you cannot sell it for more than the original purchase price of that license.

If it’s been more than 5 years from your liquor license’s previous transfer, you can sell it for as much as you would like!

Stay tuned for part two of this discussion to learn about how to initiate a CA Liquor License transfer and what is required in order to do so!

If you’re interested in learning more about California State Alcohol Laws in a fun and entertaining way, as well as learning about how to adhere to federal and state alcohol serving and selling laws, we recommend that you check out a California RBS Alcohol Server Training Course.

Cheers!

Tags: California

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