“Transferring” a Liquor License in New York
It is common to hear people refer to “transferring” a liquor license upon the purchase or sale of a business, but, because of how the liquor authority evaluates liquor license applications, there really is, by definition, no such thing. But don’t take my word for it. The Chief Executive Officer of the New York State Liquor Authority, Kerri O’Brien, has explained how this process works herself:
“Over the years, the staff of the Licensing Bureau has referred to applications using certain terminology that may mean one thing to those of us who work at the SLA and something entirely different to the outside world. One of the terms which create more than its fair share of confusion is the phrase “transfer application.”
One would assume that a “transfer application” allows for a licensee to transfer their license to someone else. In actuality, there is no such thing as a “transfer application.” A licensee can sell their business to another party, but the license certificate and the privileges that come with the license are not a part of that sale.
The Licensing Bureau staff uses the terms “transfer” and “new” applications only to differentiate between an application for an establishment that is currently licensed and selling their business (transfer) and an establishment that is not currently licensed (new).
An applicant who is purchasing the existing business of a current licensee may file an application for a Temporary Retail Permit. This would allow the applicant to begin operating the business while their application for a permanent license is being reviewed. In order to qualify for this permit, the establishment must have been open and operating at least 30 days prior to the filing of the application and the following documentation must be submitted:
▪ Temporary Retail Permit Application
▪ Retail License Application (completely filled out)
▪ Community Board/Municipality Notification
▪ Application for Liquidator’s Permit and a list of the inventory to be transferred, if applicable
▪ Contract of Sale between the licensee and the applicant
▪ All appropriate fees
▪ Penal Bond
▪ Fingerprint Cards of all interested parties
▪ Menu (if filing for an on-premises license)
▪ Proof of Financing
▪ Diagrams of the premises
The permit is granted at the discretion of the State Liquor Authority for a period of ninety days, and may be renewed. This permit may be summarily suspended or cancelled at any time, if the State Liquor Authority determines that good cause exists for such suspension or cancellation.
The issuance of this temporary permit is not a guarantee of approval of the application for transfer of the existing license to the applicant. The application for the permanent license will be reviewed and a determination made based on the merits of the entire application.
Two of the most talked about issues when discussing a “transfer application” are the 500 foot rule and 200 foot rule. The statute mandates that unless the establishment has been continuously licensed since November 1, 1993, a 500 foot hearing must be held. An on-premises liquor license cannot be issued if the establishment is within 200 feet of a school, church or place of worship unless the location has been continually licensed since December 5, 1933 or if the establishment existed prior to the school or place of worship.
The “new” license application requirements include all of the documents listed above with the exception of the submission of the Temporary Retail Permit application, Liquidator’s Permit application and Contract of Sale. The 500 foot rule and the 200 foot rule both apply.”
This blog post was reprinted from The New York State Liquor Authority Newsletter, Summer 2008. It is not intended to consist of legal advice and you should always consult with a lawyer before acting on anything you find on the Internet. If you have questions or comments about this post, about the topic, or if you need legal assistance, you should feel free to give us a call or send us an email. Let us know how a New York City liquor license lawyer can assist you.