How to Get a Liquor License in New York

by Jane Meggitt ; Updated September 26, 2017

Getting a liquor license in New York is a fairly straightforward procedure, as long as you have all of the necessary documentation and meet eligibility requirements.


  • The New York State Liquor Authority has streamlined its retail application and includes specific instructions to aid the applicant. However, its website states, "Applicants are always free to obtain professional consultation."

Accessing the Application

You can file the liquor license application online, or have an application sent to you by calling 518-474-3114. As of the time of publication, the non-refundable basic license fee is $100 for a beer-only license and $200 for most liquor licenses, but other fees depend on the type of facility and location. For example, in New York City you must pay $4,098 for a liquor store license, but you'd pay just $1,536 for a similar license in Niagara Falls. The entire fee is required when submitting the application.

Liquor License Eligibility

Only people aged 21 and over and citizens or permanent residents of the United States are eligible to hold a liquor license, whether individually or in partnership. Also eligible are citizens "of a country with a treaty allowing persons to obtain a visa to enter the United States to engage in trade," according to the NYSLA.

The NYSLA investigates three primary areas in a license application. These are:

  • the principals
  • the funding source
  • the premises.

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Certain individuals are not eligible for New York state liquor licenses. These include:

  • Convicted felons, unless the individual has been pardoned or received a Certificate of Good Conduct or Certificate of Relief from Civil Disabilities.
  • Police officers
  • Revoked licensees, specifically those whose liquor licenses has been revoked within the prior two years.

Types of Licenses

The NYSLA deals with two types of licenses -- retail and wholesale . There are many subcategories within each type of license. Wholesale licenses are available for:

  • beer
  • liquor
  • wine
  • cider.

Wholesalers include companies storing, manufacturing or distributing alcoholic beverages, while retailers are those who buy alcoholic beverages for on-site or off-premises sale and consumption.

Required Documentation

When filing for a retail liquor license, you must provide additional documents. Besides the names and addresses of principals and the trade name, other required information and documentation includes:

  • Bond Form L-9
  • Photos of all principals
  • Proof of citizenship or permanent resident status
  • Exterior and interior photos of the premises, as well as an aerial view
  • Leases, contracts or deeds -- including proof of premises control
  • Records showing funding sources.

The application includes several questionnaires, including a personal questionnaire for each principal, lender or other involved party, and a questionnaire regarding liquor and wine knowledge and information regarding the proposed establishment.

Transferring a License

If you purchase an existing business with a liquor license, you may receive a temporary permit if you're purchasing the business from the licensee. You must include a copy of the sales contract or conveyance deed. However, you can't apply for the temporary permit until you've filed an application for your own license.

Approval Timeline

While waiting for liquor license approval used to take six months or more, a streamlined process now allows most applicants to receive notice within two or three months after filing the application. Improvements made by the NYSLA to expedite the process include:

  • a central call center for inquiries
  • centralized license applications
  • attorney certification permitting lawyers to certify license application documents.

About the Author

Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.

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