What You Need to Know to Become a Licensed Retailer
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Overview

Generally, any application for a license must be approved unless there is good cause to deny the application. Good cause includes:

  • any statutory prohibition against issuing the license for a specific location; 
  • the history of violations at the location of the proposed licensed establishment and by the applicant;
  • the applicant’s failure to meet all the statutory eligibility requirements for a license;
  • the character, fitness, experience and financial responsibility of the applicant; and
  • fraud, misrepresentation, false material statements, concealment or suppression of facts, documents and other information in connection with the application.

License Fees

Location

It’s important to investigate the location of your business before beginning the application process.

The ABC Law prohibits certain licensees from being issued if the location is on the same street and within 200 feet of a building that is used exclusively as a school, church, synagogue or other place of worship. This restriction is commonly called the ‘200 Foot Law’ and applies to any retail establishment where liquor will be sold for on-premises consumption and any retail establishment where liquor or wine will be sold for consumption off the premises.

If the 200 Foot Law applies to a particular location, the Authority does not have the discretion to grant the license. Even if the school or church supports the issuance of the license, the Authority can not approve the license. The 200 Foot Law does contain exceptions, including:

  • establishments in operation since December 5, 1933;
  • locations that have been continuously licensed since a date before the school/church came into existence;
  • hotels that have an existing restaurant liquor license and want to obtain a hotel liquor license;
  • applicants for a club liquor license when the club is affiliated with the school/church; and
  • legitimate theaters operated by not-for-profit organizations.

 

The ABC Law contains restrictions on the approval of on-premises retail licenses if the location is within a 500 foot radius of three or more establishments that are currently operating with on-premises liquor licenses. This restriction, known as the ‘500 Foot Law’, applies only in cities, towns or villages with a population of 20,000 of more.

If the location is subject to the 500 Foot Law, the license can not be issued unless the Authority makes a finding that it is in the public interest to issue the license. The burden is placed on the applicant to provide sufficient evidence to meet this standard. The 500 Foot Law requires that the Authority consult with the municipality and conduct a ‘500 Foot Hearing’ to gather facts to determine whether the public interest would be served by issuing the license.

You must provide the names, address and distance from the premises to any school, church or place or worship within 300 feet. You must also provide the names of all on-premises liquor establishments located within a 500 foot radius of the proposed premises in your license application. For assistance, use the GIS Maps - Liquor Authority Mapping Project (LAMP) System:

 

GIS Maps - LAMP System

 

When reviewing your application, the Authority also considers if the location you are applying for has pending disciplinary charges or a history of violations. Even if you were not involved in the prior business, their disciplinary history can have an impact on your application.

More Information About the 200 and 500 Foot Laws

Eligibility to Hold a License

The ABC Law contains statutory eligibility requirements for individuals applying for a license. Individuals and partners applying for a license, and the officers and directors of corporations applying for a license, must meet citizenship requirements. They must be United States citizens, permanent resident aliens or citizens of a country with a reciprocal trade agreement with the United States.

Additionally, there are certain circumstances that make an individual ineligible to hold a liquor license in New York State under the ABC Law. Individuals with a felony conviction in New York State or another state or federal jurisdiction are not eligible to hold a license, unless they have a Certificate of Relief from Civil Disabilities, have received a pardon or have been issued a Certificate of Good Conduct. Certain police officers and individuals whose license was revoked within the last two years are also ineligible.

The Application Process

The application review period can take up to 50 days depending on the type of license you apply for, the volume of applications being submitted and the completeness of your application. Any deficiencies in your application will result in delays or disapproval of your license. 

Applicants for on-premises licenses must notify the municipality (using a form approved by the Authority) of its intent to file the application.  The notice must be made at least 30 days before the application is filed with the Authority. Outside of New York City, the notice is sent to the clerk of the village, town or city where the proposed licensed premises is located.  In New York City the notice is sent to the local Community Board where the premises would be located. 

Applicants for on-premises licenses must also publish a notice of the pending application in a newspaper once a week for two weeks.  Applicants for a package store, on-premises liquor or special on-premises liquor license must post a form approved by the Authority in a conspicuous place at the entrance of the proposed premises within 10 days of filing the application. 

All retail applications are provided through New York Business Express as fillable forms. Applications should not be handwritten. You should print a completed copy of the application for submission to the Authority.

The examiners review applications in the order they are received. If there are deficiencies in an application, the examiner will prepare a letter detailing any items that need submission, correction or clarification. The applicant is given 10 business days to comply with the deficiency letter.

Should the submission of requested items lead to additional questions, the applicant will receive another letter giving them additional time to respond. The examiner will list both items that are needed to complete the review of the application and missing items that have not been submitted but may be submitted later as conditions of approval. Those items will be needed prior to the issuance of the license certificate but will not prevent a determination on the application from being made. Examples of such items are the business’ Certificate of Authority to collect sales tax and proof of Workers Compensation and Disability Insurance.

Electronic Fingerprinting

All applicants are required to be fingerprinted, including: 

  • sole proprietors;
  • all partners in a Partnership and Limited Liability Partnership (LLP);
  • all stockholders, officers, directors, members and managers in a Corporation or Limited Liability Company (LLC) with 10 or less shareholders;
  • all shareholders holding 10% or more of any class of its shares in a Corporation or Limited Liability Company (LLC) with 10 or more shareholders; and
  • all officers, directors, members and managers active in management of business in a Corporation or Limited Liability Company (LLC) with 10 or less shareholders.

 

Each applicant principal that is required to be fingerprinted will be instructed to do so on their Application Receipt once the application is received by the Authority. You must follow the fingerprinting instructions.

Individuals currently licensed by the State Liquor Authority do not have the be fingerprinted.

Fingerprinting Forms and Instructions

Temporary Operating Permits

Under certain circumstances, an applicant can obtain a permit to operate while their application is pending. The application for a temporary operating permit should be filed with the application for the license, or anytime thereafter. The following applicants are eligible for temporary permits:

  • retail applicants buying the business from the existing licensee (also referred to as a “transfer” application);
  • retail applicants for a new business outside of New York City; and
  • applicants for winery and farm winery licenses.

Temporary operating permits are granted at the discretion of the Authority for a period of 90 days, and may be renewed for an additional 30 days.

Temporary Operating Permit Application

The Review Process

Once the examiner’s review is completed, the application is forwarded for a determination. Decisions on applications are made either by the Full Board or the Licensing Board. The Full Board hears all new liquor store applications, contested 500 Foot Law applications, and any other application with significant opposition or those that raise unique or complicated issues. The Members of the Authority have delegated to the Licensing Board the power to act on routine applications. An application will either be: disapproved; approved; or conditionally approved.

In the case of a conditional approval the license certificate will not be issued until the applicant complies with certain conditions, such as the submission of photographs showing the premises ready to open and operate.

Apart from the items that must be satisfied as part of a conditional approval, the Authority may also impose conditions on the license itself. When approving a specific application, the Authority can place restrictions on the operation of the licensed premises, but there must be good cause for imposing the restrictions and those restrictions must be reasonably related to that good cause.  For example, the Authority could restrict the hours of operation for outdoor areas to minimize the impact of noise on neighboring residents.

If an application is disapproved, the applicant has two options: a disapproval hearing or a request for reconsideration. After the applicant has exercised one of the options, it may seek judicial review of the disapproval.  A disapproval hearing is limited to determining whether the reasons for the disapproval are supported by the record and the law. The process consists of an administrative hearing followed by a review by the Full Board. A request for reconsideration may go beyond the issues addressed in the written disapproval. There is no administrative hearing in this process. Requests to reconsider Licensing Board decisions are reviewed by one of the Members of the Authority to determine if there is a sufficient reason to have the matter reviewed by the Full Board. A request to reconsider a disapproval of an application by the Full Board goes directly to the Full Board. 

No applicant should serve or sell alcoholic beverages until they receive an original copy of their license from the Authority. Licenses can be mailed or picked up at one of our three offices. On-premises licensees should also be advised that they may not allow patrons to bring alcoholic beverages to their premises to be consumed on site while waiting for their application to be approved.