How to Get a Nightclub Liquor License in Los Angeles

You've opened up a fab hotspot, and now you need to know how to get a nightclub liquor license in Los Angeles. You can apply for a new one from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). Or you can purchase an existing license from someone else. The ABC only issues a certain number of liquor license in each area. Therefore, if they can not issue a new license, you may have to buy an existing one. You can find liquor licenses for sale by contacting a Los Angeles liquor license broker.

These are the steps to getting a nightclub liquor license in Los Angeles:

  1. Get a business license from the city of Los Angeles. There may be other licenses and permits needed to start a nightclub. This will depend on what types of activities and services the nightclub will provide. For example, will you also serve food?  Or, if it is a new construction, zoning regulations and conditional use permits may be needed. Check the Los Angeles city and county websites for additional information.
  2. Contact local, state and federal tax permit departments. Contact the State Board of Equalization, Sales Tax Division for permit, and registration information. Check with the U.S. Treasury Dept of Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Ask if a Federal basic permit or a special Occupational Tax Stamp is required.
  3. An escrow account will be needed for purchasing an existing liquor license. If you are purchasing an existing nightclub liquor license the funds need to be deposited into an escrow account. Make sure to choose an escrow agent that is familiar with ABC requirements and is a third party to the transaction.
  4. You will also need a recorded Notice of Intention to Transfer. This notice must be certified by the County Recorder of Los Angeles. This step applies to someone who is purchasing an existing liquor license.
  5. Submit an application for an On Sale General-Public Premise Liquor License. This is the specific name of the license needed for bars and nightclubs. All parties involved need to be present when applying. The location to submit the application is: Los Angeles/Metro, 888 S. Figueroa St. Ste. 320, Los Angeles CA, 90017, (213) 833-6043
  6. Average time to process a liquor license application. The process can take up to 90 days. Most investigations take about 45 to 50 days and there is a required 30-day posting period. Many times there are delays in the process. So don’t plan your nightclubs grand opening until the liquor license and all the permits are approved.


California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control

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