How to Get an Alcohol License

beer in beer-mug image by Witold Krasowski from

An alcohol beverage license can be required to distribute alcohol in any number of places, such as grocery and convenience stores, liquor stores, restaurants, bars, clubs, fairs and festivals. It allows a person or persons to sell alcohol to individual retail customers from a specified place, according to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue's information on alcohol beverage laws. Whatever your reason for needing a liquor license, it is necessary to research the various types of licenses available as well as ensuring you meet all the requirements for such licenses.

Research the different types of alcohol licenses to determine which license is best suited to your needs. For example, Class "A" fermented malt beverage (beer) licenses allow retail sale of beer for off-premise consumption, according to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, and are used by grocery and convenience stores. Class "C" wine licenses are for the sale of wine on-premise for consumption there. Carry-out of single open (but resealed) bottles is allowed when purchased with a meal.

Ensure that you meet the basic qualifications for obtaining a liquor license. These include being of legal drinking age (21), continuous residence in your state for a predetermined length of time (can vary by state), a seller's permit issued by the Department of Revenue and completion of a responsible beverage-server training course. Call your local Vocational, Technical and Adult Education School (VTAE) for information on courses. Because each municipality has its own exact requirements for issuing a liquor license, you must call your town's or city's clerk for specific information. The clerk will provide you with an application for the license as well as information on legal requirements.

Complete the application provided by your city clerk and read the information on legal requirements. For example, a criminal record may prevent you from obtaining a liquor license if the crime is related to the selling of alcohol, such as tax evasion or selling alcohol without a license. Once your application is complete, the clerk will publish the application for three consecutive days in a local daily newspaper to determine if the community objects to your application. The licensing authority in your area (town board, city council, council licensing board) will vote on your application. Assuming there are no objections of any kind, your license will be granted at least 15 days following the filing of your application with the city clerk. You will also have to pay a fee for your license. These fees are set by local municipalities.


  • Responsible beverage-server training courses cover topics like alcohol beverage laws, safe serving of alcoholic beverages and signs of intoxication.