florida liquor license

Florida entrepreneurs know that residents and tourists alike love the nightlife. This means that Florida bars and restaurants typically have to serve alcohol to keep up with the tastes and demands of their clientele.

Business owners, therefore, try to invest in lucrative liquor licenses. These licenses allow you to sell beer, wine, and hard liquor.

The type of license available may be difficult to figure out. Your location and budget may determine the type of license you’re able to obtain.

“Any business that wants to be successful at selling alcohol must also be successful at complying with the laws and regulations that govern the sale of alcohol. This starts with getting the right alcohol sale licenses.”

Trevor Brewer, Beverage Attorney

In this blog post, the BrewerLong team will guide you through the basics of how to obtain a liquor license in Florida. As experienced Florida beverage law attorneys, we can help you navigate the challenges of this complex area of the law.

What Are Florida Liquor License Requirements?

It is essential to properly obtain a liquor license in Florida before selling alcoholic beverages at your place of business. You can face penalties and fines for selling liquor without a license. Additionally, failure to obtain a liquor license prior to selling alcohol can bar you from securing a liquor license in the future.

When working on how to get a liquor license in Florida, the forms and fees may be simple. However, at several points, you’ll have to make complex decisions that could impact the future of your business. The most challenging part will be understanding Florida liquor license requirements for each type of license. We’ll break the process down into individual components below.

Application Process

Completing the Florida liquor license application itself is straightforward. The form is available from the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (DABT). Filing fees vary by county and the type of alcohol you plan to sell. You can mail it in or hand-deliver it to a local licensing office when the application is complete. Processing takes about 90 days.

Types of Liquor Licenses Available

Beer and wine

If you plan to sell only beer and wine, Florida has a few types of applications. The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation can guide you through the requirements of each type of beer and wine application with the DABT. Whether you plan to have beer and wine consumed on-site at your premises or engage in package sales for the beverages to be consumed off-site, beer and wine licenses can be obtained by submitting a complete application to the state.

Quota licenses

Figuring out how to get a liquor license in Florida for hard liquor sales is more challenging. A license  for beer, wine, and hard alcohol sales and consumption requires obtaining something called a “quota license.” This will allow you to sell and serve a wide variety of alcoholic beverages at your establishment. Quota licenses are issued based on the population in each county. The number of licenses available is typically computed at around one license per every 7,500 people in a county. 

Under normal circumstances, you can only obtain a quota license by purchasing one from an existing licensee. You can also apply to receive a quota license in the annual Florida quota license lottery. These licenses tend to be the most expensive and difficult to obtain, but they can also be the most desirable depending upon your business model. 

If you believe that a quota license is the best option for your business, speak with an experienced beverage law attorney today. Our team at BrewerLong has successfully helped many clients handle the extremely complex process of obtaining liquor licenses.

Special food service license

Restaurant owners with large facilities may be able to meet the statutory requirements for a special food service (SFS) liquor license. An SFS license requires a restaurant to meet specific statutory requirements, like having over 2,500 square feet of space to serve over 150 people at a time. Additionally, more than 51% of gross revenue must be derived from the sale of food and non-alcoholic beverages. 

If your establishment meets those Florida liquor license requirements, you may qualify for an SFS liquor license. You may bypass the quota process and lottery and apply directly to the state for a liquor license if you qualify. 

Other types of licenses

Other types of establishments, like private social clubs, may be able to apply directly to the state to get a liquor license. These types of licenses are less common. If you’re wondering how to obtain a Florida liquor license for your private club, contact our BrewerLong team today. Our experienced beverage law attorneys can help.

How Much Is a Liquor License in Florida?

Each liquor license carries a different cost, so be sure you know your budget before you apply. Even the filing fees differ between the different types of licenses. Fees range between $100 to $455. The fee to apply for the lottery for a quota license is $100.00 per application. 

Approved licenses carry extra fees. A quota license, for example, carries a one-time $10,750 fee at present, plus additional annual fees. If you purchase a quota license from another bar or restaurant owner, those fees do not include the purchase price of the license. Quota licenses can cost $50,000 to more than $500,000 before any fees are assessed, depending on the county.

How BrewerLong Can Help

Don’t take a risk with your business, either by failing to obtain the right liquor license or by not getting one at all. We’ve helped many successful Florida entrepreneurs incorporate beverage sales into their businesses. Our leading beverage law attorneys can help guide you through the complexities of liquor licensing in Florida. Contact us today to discuss how we can help.

This blog post is provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis as of the date of publication. We disclaim any duty to update or correct any information contained in this blog post, including errors, even if we are notified about them. To the fullest extent permitted by law, we disclaim all representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied with respect to the information contained in this blog post, including, but not limited to, warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title, non-infringement, accuracy, completeness, and timeliness. We will not be liable for damages of any kind arising from or in connection with your use of or reliance on this blog post, including, but not limited to, direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, and punitive damages. You agree to use this blog post at your own risk. Regarding your particular circumstances, we recommend that you consult your own legal counsel–hopefully BrewerLong.

Author Photo

Trevor Brewer

Primarily working with business owners and their families, Trevor advises clients on business structuring and sale transactions, regulatory compliance, third-party contracts, liability protection and general matters facing small business owners. His focus extends beyond legal advice and includes business strategy and wealth preservation. Trevor also works with families regarding their estate planning needs, including probate, trust administration, and wills.

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