3 Most Important Considerations in an ABC License Transfer

3 Most Important Considerations in an ABC License Transfer


Nationwide, states have ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) departments that regulate the production, sale, and purchase of alcohol. While laws vary from state to state there are a multitude of similarities. The clear majority of states have a variety of types of ABC licenses, however, we can mostly focus on the retail (or sales) license for this article. In its easiest definition, an ABC license allows a business to sell alcohol either for customers to take home and imbibe (think: convenience store) or to drink on the premises (think: bar or restaurant).



What is an ABC License Transfer?

The transfer of an ABC license is typically processed when a business that sells alcohol is sold from one party to another. The license is then transferred from the previous business owner to the current business owner. If it is a new business, or a business new to selling alcohol, then it is considered applying for a new license and not a transfer.


How Does an ABC License Transfer Work?

An ABC license transfer is processed quite like a new license application. However, in this case the application must be completed by both the transferrer and the transferee. From there, the process is completed by treating the transferee like a new license applicant. The applicant must complete all the steps as any other ABC applicant. An applicant must present to the local ABC district office and apply in person. Typically, they will be asked questions and then advised of what forms, fees, and future steps are required. Finalization includes paying fees, gaining approval from local governments, and proving an understanding of ABC laws.

Three Things to Consider When Transferring a License

There are several things to keep in mind when applying for the transfer of an ABC license. Transfer applicants should be aware that the ABC takes issuing licenses very seriously and is diligent about their investigations to ensure appropriate, responsible behavior regarding the sale of alcohol.


  • An Escrow May Be Required: Depending on the type of application, ABC may require the applicant to open an escrow account. An escrow provides a third-party governed holding account for any fees or financial obligations involved in the transfer. This ensures all parties involved can fulfill their obligations, and essentially prevents the ABC from “wasting their time” vetting a transfer that could not happen for financial reasons.
  • An Investigation is Required: ABC will thoroughly investigate all applicants, including a transferee. No information is off limits, as the ABC is quite strict with their license issuances.
  • There is a Transfer Period: The issuance of a transferred license takes a minimum of 30 days and can take up to two months. The transferee should understand that there will be a significant amount of time that the license will be in pending status.


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