From fry bread to chimichangas to Sonoran hot dogs, Arizona restaurants offer up some of the most delicious and unique foods in the nation. If you’re looking to get into the fast-growing food industry in the Grand Canyon State, adding a liquor license is a great way to boost your bottom line and satisfy your customers’ cravings.
- Do you need a liquor license to sell alcohol in Arizona?
- Types of liquor licenses in Arizona
- How much does a liquor license cost in Arizona?
- Arizona liquor license requirements
- How long does it take to get a liquor license?
- How to get a liquor license in Arizona
- Arizona liquor license renewal requirements
- Can a liquor license be transferred in Arizona?
- What are employee requirements to serve alcohol in Arizona?
- Arizona’s liquor liability and dram shop laws
- What kind of insurance do you need to get a liquor license in Arizona?
Do you need a liquor license to sell alcohol in Arizona?
Food service business owners looking to add alcohol to their menu in Arizona must have a license issued by the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control (DLLC). While the DLLC offers numerous licenses depending on the type of business and type of alcohol served, for restaurants, cafes, diners, or any other establishment that primarily serves food and wishes to sell alcohol as well, a Series 12 Restaurant license is the one you’ll be applying for.
Take note — to qualify for a Series 12 license, at least 40% of your gross revenue must come from the sale of food. Falling below this threshold could lead to the revocation of your license.
Types of liquor licenses in Arizona
The DLLC has over 20 licenses for businesses looking to sell alcohol, several of which are subject to a quota. This means no new licenses are available. To get one, you'll have to find someone willing to sell theirs, which can cost anywhere from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Fortunately, for those looking to sell alcohol at their eatery, there is no quota for Series 12 licenses, meaning you can apply for a new one at any time.
How much does a liquor license cost in Arizona?
Applying for a Series 12 liquor license in Arizona comes with the following fees:
- Non-refundable application fee: $100
- Interim Permit fee: $100
- Fingerprint Processing Fee (per card): $22
- Site Inspection Fee: $50
Once approved, the final fees to activate your license are based on how long you want your license to be valid:
- Full Year: $2,000
- Half Year: $1,750
Arizona liquor license requirements
To obtain a liquor license in Arizona, you must:
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Be a resident of Arizona
- Have no felony convictions within the past five years
- Not have a previous liquor license revoked within the past year
- Complete a DLLC-approved Title 4 Basic and Management Training Course
- Complete all required forms
- Pay all required fees
How long does it take to get a liquor license?
Once you file your application with the DLLC, the approval process takes 65 to 105 days.
How to get a liquor license in Arizona
The DLLC approval process goes as follows:
- The DLLC sends your application to the governing body of your city or town to review and ensure all local ordinances are met.
- The clerk of the local governing body will post a copy of your application to the front of your proposed location for 20 days.
- The local governing body will hold a meeting and either approve, disapprove, or offer “no recommendation” for your license application.
While the local governing body is processing your application, the DLLC conducts a thorough background check on all applicants.
Your application will be approved if:
- Your background check comes back clean
- The local governing body approves of your application
- The DLLC doesn't receive any written protests
- There is no objection by the director of the DLLC
Before you open, everyone involved in your business's day-to-day operation must complete a DLLC-approved Title 4 Basic and Management Training Course.
Additionally, before doing any business, you’ll need to apply for a TPT (sales tax) License from the Arizona Department of Revenue.
At this point, you only need to pay the final fees to the DLLC to activate your license.
Arizona liquor license renewal requirements
To renew a Series 12 Restaurant liquor license in Arizona:
- You must settle all state and local taxes and resolve any DLLC violations.
- Ensure the Title 4 certification is current for all required personnel.
- Provide a business data report showing that at least 40% of your gross income came from food sales must be submitted.
Renewal costs $585 if you complete the renewal application and pay any fees before your liquor license expiration date. There is an additional $150 fee for late filing.
Can a liquor license be transferred in Arizona?
Arizona only offers transfers for licenses that are under “quota” where only a certain number are available.
Series 12 Restaurant licenses are not under quota and, therefore, cannot be transferred. Since there is no limit on this type of license, you can apply for a new one anytime.
What are employee requirements to serve alcohol in Arizona?
In Arizona, the only requirement for employees to serve alcohol is that they be 18 or older.
Owners, agents, and any managers involved in the day-to-day operation of the business must complete a DLLC-approved Title 4 Basic and Management Training Course. Once complete, a Title 4 Certificate is valid for three years.
Arizona’s liquor liability and dram shop laws
Arizona is a dram shop liability state. If a business sells alcohol to a person who is visibly intoxicated or under the legal drinking age, state laws can hold a business liable should that person cause injuries or death because they're intoxicated.
For example, say a big group comes to your restaurant to celebrate a friend's birthday. Drinks start getting ordered, IDs are checked, but one underage person gets missed. Everyone orders multiple rounds of drinks and has a good time. Unfortunately, at the end of the night, the underaged person decides to drive home and gets into a car accident that injures the other driver. Since you didn't check their ID, your business can be sued for the damages they caused. While it may seem unfair, your business could be held responsible for this accident.
What kind of insurance do you need to get a liquor license in Arizona?
Arizona makes it relatively easy to get a liquor license if you're in the food service industry. Having the right business insurance is important to protect what you've worked so hard for.
Liquor Liability insurance
As Arizona is a dram shop liability state, liquor liability insurance will help you cover the costs of damage, injury, and even court fees.
General Liability insurance
Any business that deals with the public should look into general liability insurance. If a work-related accident were to occur, or if you or an employee accidentally damaged someone's property, this insurance would help cover the costs.
Workers’ Comp insurance
Arizona law requires any business that has one or more employees, either full-time or part-time, to carry workers’ comp insurance. If you or a staff member experiences an injury on the job, this insurance covers medical expenses, lost wages and more.
Commercial Property insurance
Whether you own or lease the space your business is in, commercial property insurance covers the building, your goods, gear, and even inventory. So should something happen, you can get back to business ASAP.
How NEXT helps Arizona businesses
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