Buying a Retail Liquor License

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Obtaining an Alcoholic Beverage License in New Jersey

NJ Liquor License AttorneyThe issuance of retail and distribution liquor licenses in New Jersey is restricted based on a municipality’s population.  For example, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 33:1-12.14, a town can issue one retail license for every 3,000 residents and one distribution license for every 7,500 residents. Due to this cap, new liquor licenses rarely become available in many towns. However, when a new liquor license does become available, the municipality typically auctions off the license to the highest bidder. The town will also accept applications for the available beverage license.

People most commonly obtain a New Jersey liquor license by purchasing an existing license and having it transferred to them through a “person-to-person” or “place-to-place” transfer application with the local issuing authority.

Person-to-Person and Place-to-Place License Transfers

If you want to obtain a New Jersey liquor license, the transfer must be approved by the appropriate local issuing authority.  As the licensee, or the person to whom the license will be transferred, you are required to file a retail license application (see below for a link), published two legal notices of intent to transfer the license and provide the issuing authority with a written consent to transfer for approval. The buyer must additionally contact the NJ Division of Taxation’s Licensing Unit to apply for a Certificate of Sales Tax Authority and an Alcoholic Beverage Retail License Clearance Certificate.

How Do I Apply for a Retail Liquor License in NJ?

The New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control has published the application for a retail alcoholic beverage license on its website.  The application provided is required when any of the following is being requested pertaining to a retail alcoholic beverage license in New Jersey:

  • New license;
  • Person-to-person transfer;
  • Place-to-place transfer;
  • Partnership changes (except Limited Partnerships);
  • Change of corporate structure;
  • Extension to administrator, executor, receiver, trustee in bankruptcy;
  • License renewal; or
  • When required by the Division or the local issuing authority.

The Cost of a NJ Liquor License

There are other costs involved in the purchase of an alcoholic beverage license in New Jersey besides the purchase price agreed to at auction or in a private sale. At the time of application, a filing fee of $200 must be submitted to the local issuing authority, made payable to the Division of ABC. The license purchaser, or licensee, is also required to pay the municipality a fee equal to 10% of the annual license fee. This fee is increased to 20% if both a person-to-person and a place-to-place transfer is taking place. Additional local licensing fees established by the local issuing authority may also apply. It is recommended that you consult the Municipal Clerk or ABC Board Secretary for information on local licensing fees.

Types of NJ Class C Retail Liquor Licenses

Retail liquor licenses (Class C) are issued by the municipality in which the business is located and all applications, renewals, and transfers of the liquor license are determined by the governing municipal body. As set forth in N.J.S.A. 33:1-12, the types of Class C retail liquor licenses are:

  • Club Licenses
  • Plenary Retail Consumption License with Broad Package Privilege
  • Plenary Retail Consumption License
  • Seasonal Retail Consumption License
  • Hotel/Motel License
  • Plenary Retail Consumption License (theater exception)
  • Limited Retail Distribution License (NO longer being issued, only renewed or transferred)
  • Plenary Retail Distribution License

Call a NJ Liquor License ABC Lawyer

The experienced attorneys at Villani & DeLuca, P.C. are familiar with all aspects of purchasing a NJ Liquor License.  If you are interested in buying a liquor license, about to purchase a restaurant or bar that has a liquor license, interested in obtaining employment in the liquor industry, or you are currently in the alcohol business and have questions about your current license, call a Villani & DeLuca attorney to discuss your options. We represent clients throughout Ocean County and Monmouth County with ABC law matters in towns such as Toms River, Brick, Manasquan, Seaside Heights and Wall Township.

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