Getting a Texas liquor license approved can be a cumbersome and difficult process. Deciding on which liquor license to apply for, determining whether the location is wet for the alcohol permit you’re seeking, navigating city alcohol regulations and choosing the appropriate TABC subordinate permits are just some of the things that need to be considered when you start the liquor licensing process.
Deciding on the type of TABC Permits to apply for should be one of the first steps in the application process. Also, once you decide which tier of the alcohol industry you will hold an interest in (Retail, manufacturing or distributing), you’ll only be allowed to hold interests within that same tier. Holding an interest in more than one tier of the alcohol industry is called a “Tied House” and is prohibited under the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code. Tied House interest prohibitions are strictly enforced in Texas. A list of the different types of TABC permits can be found here.
Some of the most common primary Texas Liquor permits are:
Subordinate TABC permits attach to a primary permit. Some of the most common subordinate TABC liquor licenses are:
Brewpub License (BP) – Can attach to the following primary retail permits: MB, BG, BE. Authorizes the manufacture of malt beverages, and the sale of manufactured beer for on-premise or off-premise consumption
Once you decide on your permits and find a suitable location, you should verify that you meet the minimum qualifications to hold a TABC permit.
Some of the main qualifications for an applicant to hold a TABC permit include:
Must be 21 or older;
Cannot have any felony convictions in the last 5 years;
Cannot have an interest in a TABC permit within a different tier. The three tiers are the manufacturing tier, distribution tier and retail tier; and
Cannot have any moral turpitude violations within the last 6-months.
In September 2021, the TABC transitioned to an online application system called AIMS. The link to log into AIMs can be found here. Although the AIMs application process lists getting the city, county and comptroller to certify the L-Cert form as one of the last steps in the application process, we recommend that you start with this step (note that an L-Cert isn’t required for a private club permit ). In our experience, obtaining a completed L-Cert form tends to take up the most amount of time in the liquor licensing process.
Getting the city, county & comptroller to sign off on the L-Cert form early in the process will help ensure that the potential location is wet for the type of permit sought, that there aren’t any municipal ordinances prohibiting the TABC permit sought and that your business doesn’t have additional delays in being able to serve alcohol.
Also, the comptroller will refuse to sign off on the L-Cert if an officer of the applicant entity has delinquent taxes owed to the state, even if the taxes are owed by a different, unrelated entity with the same officer.
The timing in which the L-Cert should be submitted is also important and varies depending on location. Some cities require that the county to sign off before the city will sign the L-Cert form. For example, the City of Dallas requires that Dallas County sign before it will consider a signing a TABC application. Conversely, many counties – such as Tarrant County – require that the city sign off before it will. Some cities even require that both the county & comptroller sign off on an application before the city will sign the L-Cert. Most cities have their own application processes that need to be completed before they will consider signing off on a TABC application.
This article only provides a high level overview of just some of the code provisions, rules and ordinances that need to be considered when a business enters the alcoholic beverage industry in Texas. There are also publication notices, required signage, best practices to avoid a comptroller audit, checking for tier violations, requirements to qualify for the Safe Harbor Defense, written alcohol policies that need to be adopted, ensuring the business is correctly structured, applying for a sales tax permit, etc. that need to be addressed when applying for a Texas liquor license. The information in this article is for informational purposes only and should not taken as legal advice.
Our expert TABC law attorneys and consultants have over 85-years combined experience handling TABC related cases, and as a result we are intimately familiar with the TABC application processes, municipal application requirements and issues businesses commonly deal with when entering the alcohol industry. We can efficiently handle the complex liquor licensing process for you and help limit the time it takes to get your business up and running. We also regularly assist other Texas licensing services when a situation comes up that they’re not sure how to handle. Our TABC consultants and attorneys work closely with restaurants, bars, private clubs, and breweries in Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, Houston and throughout Texas; and we help our clients ensure they operate in compliance with the TABC Code and Rules.
Communication via this website does not establish an attorney-client relationship. We cannot, therefore, agree to maintain the confidentiality of communications sent via this website. Do not send any information about a legal problem, as our professional obligations require us to determine whether there are any actual or potential conflicts with existing or former clients before accepting an engagement from a new client.