How to Get a Beer & Liquor License in Kentucky

by Vicki A. Benge; Updated September 26, 2017

To apply for a beer and liquor license in Kentucky, you must be a U.S. citizen, a Kentucky resident for at least the previous year and 21 years old. Applicants with any misdemeanor charges related to drugs or alcohol in the prior two years or a felony conviction in the previous five years are not eligible. If your business has multiple owners, each owner must meet these requirements. Decide what type of license you will need and gather required documentation before beginning the application process.

Transferring Licenses

If you are buying a business that sells alcoholic beverages in some form, you can apply for a transitional license while the business is changing hands. This license will be good for 60 days. However, you first will need to apply and pay the required fees for a permanent license in order to obtain the transitional license.

Types of Licenses

The Commonwealth of Kentucky issues 44 different types of alcoholic beverage licenses, according to the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Specific licenses are geared towards distillers, brewers, distributors, retailers, wholesalers, restaurants and caterers. Kentucky even requires a license to serve alcoholic beverages in hotel rooms.

Each type of license requires the applicant to pay fees when the applications are submitted and for renewal. These fees range from $10 for a Micro Out-of-state Producer to $7,730 for an Entertainment Destination Center License. Retail package licenses cost $570 and a limited restaurant license is $780.

If your application is denied, the state will refund the license fee minus $50 for processing if you submit a written request.

Application Process

Before submitting an application to the Kentucky ABC, publish your intention to apply in the local newspaper in the area where the business is or will be located. After publication, you will need a clipping of the announcement and an affidavit of publication, which must be completed by an officer of the newspaper-- the publisher or editor, for example. [

You will need an official police background check for every state you've lived for the past five years, and the documents cannot be more than 30 days old. You also will need a copy of your deed or lease for the property where the alcoholic beverages will be sold and your sales tax numbers. Mail, hand deliver or fax these documents, along with the completed application to the Kentucky ABC, 1003 Twilight Trail, Frankfort, KY, 40601-8400. The fax number is 502-564-1442.

Processing applications at the state level takes a minimum of 60 days, according to the state ABC agency. This is in addition to an unspecified period during which the local ABC Administrator reviews the license.

You can download an application package from the Kentucky ABC that contains instructions on what sections to complete for what types of licenses and a checklist for required documents.

About the Author

Vicki A Benge began writing professionally in 1984 as a newspaper reporter. A small-business owner since 1999, Benge has worked as a licensed insurance agent and has more than 20 years experience in income tax preparation for businesses and individuals. Her business and finance articles can be found on the websites of "The Arizona Republic," "Houston Chronicle," The Motley Fool, "San Francisco Chronicle," and Zacks, among others.

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