How to Get a North Carolina Liquor License

Selling beer, wine and liquor at a store or restaurant takes a lot more than just putting product out on the shelves or the menu. Each state requires restaurants, bars and stores that want to sell alcoholic beverages to earn a state liquor license, sometimes called a liquor permit. In North Carolina, the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission oversees not only the sale and purchase of alcohol, but also the transportation, manufacturing and consumption of beer, wine and liquor. Obtaining a liquor license in North Carolina requires following the permit requirements set by the ABC.

Determine Type of Permit

The North Carolina ABC issues 13 different types of permits. The type of permit you need depends on what type of liquor you plan on selling and what type of establishment you will be selling it in. Permit types include on-premises for those wanting to serve alcohol on-site, like restaurants, and off-premises for those selling alcohol for the consumer to drink elsewhere, such as liquor stores. You can also choose a permit to serve or sell malt beverages, wine or mixed drinks. Additional permits allow an establishment to let customers bring their own booze to drink on-site, have a certain amount of alcohol on hand for cooking purposes and rent equipment for customers to make their own drinks at home.

Meet the Requirements

Applicants for a North Carolina liquor permit must be a North Carolina resident and at least 21 years old. For stores selling only malt beverages and wine, the applicant only needs to be 19 years old. The applicant must not have any felonies on his record in the past three years and, if convicted of a felony before then, must have had his citizenship restored. He must not have any alcoholic beverage offenses and no misdemeanors with a controlled substance in the previous two years. Additional requirements include no revoked alcoholic beverage permits and no business liens or judgments.

Submit the Application

The liquor permit process includes submitting an application that includes basic biographical information on the individual or business applying. Other documents the applicants must turn in with the application include a fingerprint card from a background check and the lease agreement or deed of the business property. For on-premises permits, the applicant should turn in a detailed diagram of the premises. Restaurants and hotels must also provide a food menu and price list for drinks. Restaurants must also turn in photographs of the front exterior, storage areas for the alcohol, entire kitchen, all dining areas where the alcoholic beverages will be sold or consumed and the bars, counters and mixing stations.

Turn in Additional Forms

Along with a permit application, the applicant must submit eight other forms including forms for inspection and zoning compliance, release of information, proof of ownership, recycling compliance and proof of alcohol seller and server training. The applicant must also pay a fee for each type of permit he wants to obtain, which range from $100 to $1,000 per permit.


About the Author

Lindsey Thompson began her writing career in 2001. Her work has been published in the Cincinnati Art Museum's "Member Magazine" and "The Ohio Journalist." You'll also find her work on websites like Airbnb,, and Thompson holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.