Obtaining A New York Liquor License

Qualifying for a liquor license in New York State may seem straightforward, but will get complicated if you do not know the basics. The application process starts with choosing your business’s location in New York, because it can impact your license application.  A New York business selling alcoholic beverages must be 200 feet from schools and religious buildings.

Generally, you must also consider that a license for on-premises liquor consumption may be granted for any premise within 500 feet of three or more existing premises licensed and operating with an on-premises liquor license. This rule can be waived by the New York State Liquor Authority if it determines that the license would be “in the public interest” after consulting with the local Community Board and holding a public hearing commonly referred to as “The 500-Foot Hearing.”

Additionally, only qualified persons can obtain a New York State liquor license.  The personal qualifications are simple:  you must be (1) 21 years of age; and (2) a US citizen with no criminal convictions. Please note that a felony DWI and some out-of-state convictions can all disqualify your application.

Also note that in New York City, community boards must also be informed of your intention to pursue a liquor license within 30 days of filing your application.  You must also publish notice in a newspaper once a week for two successive weeks after you file your application.

Knowing what kind of liquor license your New York business needs also changes the application process. In New York, the following liquor licenses are available:

  • On-premise retail license
  • Liquor store and wine store license
  • Beer & wine product license (store)
  • Special event permit
There are also wholesale liquor licenses available from the State of New York.  While the above all sounds easy, the application process can take close to a year to process without the assistance of an experienced NY attorney.  Attorneys are allowed to partake in New York State Liquor Authority’s Self-Certification program.  Attorneys filing retail applications on behalf of applicants can certify that statements and documents provided in the application are true and accurate and that the application meets all statutory requirements. This means a more timely process for the applicant.

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