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  • Writer's pictureJonathon W. Baker, Esq.

Intro to Retail Alcoholic Beverage Licensing in Florida

Updated: Jan 8, 2021

In Florida, alcoholic beverage licensing is governed by Title XXXIV of the Florida Statutes along with many local rules and regulations specific to the location of the licensed premises.

There are three main groups of retail alcoholic beverage licenses, also known as vendor licenses, available in Florida. The first group consists of quota liquor licenses, which allow a vendor to sell beer, wine & liquor to customers from an establishment such as a bar or liquor store.

The second group consists of beer & wine licenses, which as you may have guessed only allow a vendor to sell beer and/or wine, typical for establishments like convenience stores or pubs.

The third and final group consists of specialty licenses. Specialty licenses are available for many different types of businesses and events, such as restaurants, bowling alleys, caterers, hotels, airports, fairs and many more. A business must meet certain state and/or local requirements in order to be eligible for a specialty license.

There are also sub-categories of these alcoholic beverage licenses that depend on the type of business seeking licensure. For instance, quota licenses as well as beer & wine licenses break down into two series: COP or PS.

COP stands for Consumption on Premises, where the location allows drinking on site, such as a bar. PS stands for Package Sales or Package Store, where the location is only allowed to sell sealed containers, such as a liquor store.

Other than quota liquor licenses, the cost of an alcoholic beverage license consists of an annual fee paid to the Division of Alcoholic Beverages & Tobacco, part of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Other incidental costs are common such as temporary license fees and zoning approval fees.

Quota licenses are called so because the number of such licenses is limited per county, based on population. In general, when a county’s population grows by 7,500 people, the state releases one additional liquor license for that county. Quota licenses are treated as intangible personal property, and once acquired, they can be sold or mortgaged just as any other property. However, a quota license cannot be used outside of the county in which it was originally issued. Pricing for quota licenses is based solely on supply and demand. Prices run anywhere from $30,000 to over $500,000.

We hope this post helped introduce the basics of alcoholic beverage licensing in Florida. As can be seen, the licensing process involves multiple steps that begin even before applying for a license, such as ensuring the location is properly zoned before signing a Lease. These are just some of the reasons you should consult an experienced attorney who can guide you through the process, saving you time and money that would be better spent opening or running your business. Call, email or chat with the knowledgeable staff at Baker Law, P.A. for all your hospitality licensing needs.

About the Author

Jonathon W. Baker, Esq., President of Baker Law, P.A., has extensive experience in business, licensing, and regulatory law at the local, state, and federal levels. He routinely offers corporate counsel and represents clients in all stages of licensing for alcoholic beverage, food service, and hemp/CBD, and many other licenses. Jonathon also handles complex transactional matters such as stock purchase and assets acquisition agreements. He has years of experience representing borrowers and lenders in foreclosure litigation. Outside of his law practice, Jonathon is a trained musician who has played multiple styles of guitar for over 20 years and also enjoys exercising and spending time on Florida's sunny beaches.

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