Your Guide to Liquor License Costs in California

Published: Nov 24, 2014
How much is a liquor license in California?
Do you own – or want to open – a liquor store in California?

If so, you might have already familiarized yourself with the licensing process, but it’s likely that the licensing costs remain a bit unclear. It’s understandable – the question of how much a liquor license costs in California is anything but simple!

Since the different types of licenses require different fees, we’ve prepared an overview of the costs, to help you during your licensing or renewal process.

Remember, for liquor licenses in California, you might need to get an alcohol bond, if the California State Board of Equalization deems it necessary. This surety bond acts as a guarantee that you will meet and abide by all state requirements regarding the selling of liquor in California.

We’ll guide you first through the on-sale liquor license types and fees, and then through the off-sale ones. Take a look below to see just how much your liquor license will cost.

On-sale liquor licences

Wine market
Within the on-sale liquor licenses, there is a wide variety of options for your license. It all depends on the purpose of your business. Below you can find the annual fees for the most common types of on-sale liquor licenses. For further information, you can consult the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s document on the Common License Types and Their Basic Privileges. You can also check out the full Schedule of On-Sale License Fees.

  • On-Sale Beer: $261
  • On-Sale Beer and Wine Eating Place: $350
  • On-Sale Beer and Wine Public Premise: $261
  • On-Sale Beer and Wine Train, Boat or Plane and On Sale Beer Fishing Party Boat: $108
  • On-Sale General Eating Place or Public Premise: $876
  • On-Sale General Seasonal for 3, 6 or 9 months: $227, $448 or $670
  • On-Sale General Club, Club or Veteran’s Club: $508
  • On-Sale General Train: $200
  • On-Sale General Boat or Airplane: $510
  • On-Sale General Vessel 1,000 ton: $200
  • Special On-Sale General: $876
  • Beer & Wine Seasonal for 3-6 months or for 3-9 months: $150 or $219
  • On-Sale Beer Seasonal for 3-6 months or for 3-9 months: $150 or $219
  • On-Sale Beer Public Premise: $261
  • On-Sale Special Beer & Wine Hospital: $90
  • Special On-Sale General Theater: $508
  • Special On-Sale Beer & Wine Symphony: $261
  • On-Sale Wine Bed & Breakfast: $7 per room
  • Special Beer & Wine Theater: $261
  • On-Sale General Restrictive Service, Special On-Sale General License-For Profit Theater or On-Sale General Brew-Pub: $876
  • On-Sale General Maritime Museum: $200
  • On-Sale General Wine, Food & Art Cultural Museum: $876
  • General Caterer’s License: $876
  • Instructional Tasting License: $261

Off-sale liquor licenses

2013 Wine - Finally Bottled!

Let’s move into the off-sale liquor license types. The complete Schedule of Off-Sale License Fees is available too.

  • Beer Manufacturer: $1379
  • Winegrower or Wineblender: from $69 to $423 (+$273 for each 1 million on top of the first million), depending on the county population
  • Brandy Manufacturer: $284
  • Distilled Spirits Manufacturer or Distilled Spirits Manufacturer Agent: $514
  • Wine Rectifier: $462
  • Beer & Wine Importer’s General: $310
  • Distilled Spirits Importer General: $514
  • Customs Broker: $74
  • Wine Broker: $98
  • Beer & Wine Wholesaler: $310
  • Distilled Spirits Wholesaler: $514
  • Industrial Alcohol Dealer: $98
  • Off-Sale Beer & Wine: $254
  • Off-Sale General: $582
  • Small Beer Manufacturer less than 60,001 barrels: $171
  • Distilled Spirits Rectifiers General or California Brandy Wholesaler: $462
  • California Winegrowers Agent: $514
  • Wine Grape Grower Storage: $85
  • Limited Off-Sale Wine License: $242
  • Instructional Tasting License: $261

Getting your liquor license in California

If you have to also obtain an alcohol bond to get your liquor license, keep in mind that the bonding amounts are different for the various types of licenses and depend on your personal credit score. The California State Board of Equalization will define the bond you need to provide.

Lance Surety Bond Associates can assist you in the bonding process. To give you an idea about the costs, if you are required to post a $25.000 bond, the actual bond price will be from $250 to $1,000, so between 1% and 4%, depending on your credit score. For a more accurate estimation, apply online to get a free quote today.

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Vic Lance is the founder and president of Lance Surety Bond Associates. He served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. He served as a logistics officer during a combat tour to Afghanistan. and as an officer in charge of an Iraqi Police Transition Team during a subsequent tour to Iraq. Later, he was assigned to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, serving as Assistant Professor of Naval Science and Marine Officer Instructor. Victor graduated from Villanova University with a degree in Business Administration and holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business.