A New Jersey liquor license is an extremely valuable asset and owning one is a privilege. Business owners typically need to spend a lot of money to get one. That said, alcohol sales are widely considered “recession-proof,” so obtaining a liquor license is greatly rewarding.
Moreover, a liquor license can be sold or transferred in case a business shuts down. If you own a liquor license in New Jersey, you need to understand the state’s liquor license laws to avoid forfeiting that privilege.
Here’s what you need to know about liquor license applications and transfers in New Jersey.
Applying for a liquor license
New Jersey’s Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) or local municipalities decide whether to grant a business owner the privilege to manufacture, wholesale, or retail alcoholic beverages. They require you to provide information about your business and your business location and pay a $200 filing fee.
You’ll need to fill out a 12-page application form indicating the details of your business’s premises and its proximity to a church or school, including all the necessary signatures. You must meet all the requirements for owning a liquor license in New Jersey. You may also be subject to personal, criminal, and financial background checks, if necessary.
Types of licenses
When applying for a liquor license, you must know what type of license you need and whether that particular license is available.
Class A licenses are for manufacturers of alcoholic beverages, including wineries, breweries, distilleries, and similar establishments. Class B licenses are for wholesalers who sell to retailers. Class C licenses are for retailers (restaurants, bars, bowling alleys, and nightclubs) and distributors. Retailers and distributors (liquor stores) must also apply for Consumption Licenses and Distribution Licenses, respectively.
A Plenary Retail Consumption License in New Jersey authorizes the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages on the licensed premises by the glass or other open receptacle and the sale of alcoholic beverages in their original containers (e.g., in bottles or cans) for consumption off the licensed premises.
On the other hand, a Plenary Retail Distribution License (also known as a “liquor store license”) authorizes only the sale of alcoholic beverages in original containers for consumption off-premises. Both types of licenses must be renewed annually.
If you own and operate a restaurant that does not serve liquor but allows customers to bring their own beer or wine, you must adhere to Bring Your Own Bottle liquor license laws. If your establishment belongs to this category, you may offer your customers glasses for their own alcoholic beverages (excluding liquor) but you cannot charge any fee for this service or advertise that you offer a bring-your-own option. You can apply for this license unless the local municipality prohibits it.
Transferring a liquor license
The application, sale, or transfer of New Jersey liquor license is fairly complicated. The state or the municipality issues licenses based on a town’s population: one distribution license is given for every 7,500 residents and one consumption for every 3,000 residents. This effectively limits the number of licenses being issued in the Garden State.
Transfer objections and other issues
If there’s an objection to your application for a liquor license transfer, you will be given a hearing to present your case. It’s recommended that you have a liquor license attorney who can represent you at hearings.
Get in touch with KMH&L Attorneys for expert advice on liquor license applications, transfers, or other liquor law issues in New Jersey. Call us today.