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ANSWERED: How Much Is a Liquor License in NY? [Updated for 2023]

New York is a people magnet. 

Some 61 million people will visit the state this year alone. From bustling restaurants to neighborhood liquor stores, alcohol is part of the culture. Opening a bar, restaurant, or liquor store is a great way to capitalize on this booming tourism, but there are hoops to jump through before opening your doors.

One of the most important documents you’ll need is a liquor license. Obtaining one isn’t as easy as ordering a beer at a bar. The process might take months; if you make mistakes or fill out the wrong forms, you’ll start back at square one.

This article details how much a liquor license costs in NY, how to apply for one, and the common pitfalls to avoid. Let’s get into it!

How Much Is a Liquor License in NY? What You Need to Know

There’s no easy answer to this question, but we will demystify the process as much as possible. Firstly, there are two general types of liquor licenses: on-premises and off-premises.

Then there are various types of licenses within those categories. 


On-premises licenses are required for places where people can buy and drink alcohol on-site, such as bars and restaurants. Licenses for off-premises sales, like those in liquor stores and supermarkets, allow people to purchase alcohol to take home and enjoy.

Hotels, clubs, wine taverns, restaurants, and live music venues need on-premises liquor licenses. Grocery, wine, liquor, and drug stores need off-premises licenses. However, a store that has an in-store bar would also need an on-premises license.

These are the basics. There’s more!

Cost Breakdown of a Liquor License in NY

There are various costs associated with obtaining a liquor license. Costs depend on different county regulations, population sizes, and additional fees.

On-premises License Costs

License Type

Initial Fee

Cost Factors

Tavern Wine License

$4,000 to $6,800

County, population

Restaurant Wine License

$1,280 to $2,000

Location, population

Hotel Liquor License

Approximately $4,400


Club Liquor License

$800 to $2,000

Membership size

Cabaret Liquor License

Approximately $4,400 (plus additional fees for each public room)



Off-premises License Costs

License Type

Initial Fee

Cost Factors

Grocery Store Beer License

Approximately $1,050


Drug Store Beer License

Approximately $1,050


Liquor Store License

$3,200 to $5,600

County, population

Wine Store License

$1,700 to $3,200

County, population


Factors that Influence Costs and Additional Fees

As you've seen, your area's population, location, and establishment type will all affect your liquor license's cost. Fees are typically higher in areas with a greater population and for establishments selling more alcohol.

Remember to factor in additional fees and renewal costs! Most license types require filing fees between $100 and $200. In addition, you'll have to renew your license periodically (usually once every one to three years). Renewal fees are typically similar to the initial license fee.

How to Apply for a Liquor License in New York

We’re going one step further and giving you a quick step-by-step guide on how to apply for a liquor license in New York.

Step #1: Determine which type of license you need. For example, let’s say you want to open a liquor store. You want to sell alcoholic beverages like wine, spirits, and liquor. You’ll need to think about the county you’re in and the population size, and apply for a liquor license.

Step #2: Get your documents in order. For a liquor store, you’ll need the following:

  • Certificate of Authority to prove you’re registered to collect sales tax
  • Registration documents
  • A Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • A lease or deed for your location
  • A diagram of the premises
  • A personal questionnaire
  • The Liquor Store License Application Form from the New York State Liquor Authority (NYSLA) website

An important note: According to the 200 Foot Rule, specific licenses are not granted if the location is within 200 feet of a school, church, synagogue, or other places of worship.

Step #3: Fill out the application. Be thorough and accurate. Key sections include business information, ownership and location details, alcohol sales plans, and operating hours.

Step #4: Send your application and fees to the NYSLA. This includes the initial license fee, filing fee, and other fees specific to your application.

Step #5: Play the waiting game. The NYSLA will review your application and might conduct some additional inspections or investigations. Sometimes, you may be required to attend a hearing or provide further information. If your application is approved, you'll receive your liquor license and can start operating!

Tips for Preparing a Successful Application

Be thorough. Have someone proofread your application — if you get something wrong, your application might be rejected or delayed. 

Also, be sure you meet the requirements of your chosen license type. For example, for an off-premises license, you need to be over 21, a U.S. citizen, and not hold any interest in a wholesale, manufacturing, or importing business.

It might be worth reaching out to a consulting service to help fill out the application and understand state regulations.

Ensuring Compliance and Avoiding Pitfalls

Staying compliant with NY state laws and regulations is crucial to maintaining your license, avoiding fines and penalties, and protecting your reputation. It’s easy to make mistakes. You might overlook local laws or restrictions, such as zoning, operating hours, or signage regulations. This is why it’s crucial to be thorough and accurate in your application.

Selling to minors is a violation. It’s essential to train your staff on proper ID checks. You can also use your point of sale (POS) system — some POS solutions come with age verification features.

Lastly, in order to comply with reporting requirements and demonstrate your commitment to responsible business practices, you must maintain accurate records of all your transactions, invoices, and inventory.

How Much is a Liquor License in NY? And What To Do Next

As you can see, the liquor license cost in NY varies, but you’ll find the right answer for your business.

Once you do, you need a robust POS system to help manage your other significant responsibilities as an establishment selling liquor, wine, and beer. 

From inventory management to customer loyalty programs and age verification, at POS Nation, we provide a POS system designed to help you grow your business.

Want to discover 14 must-have inventory management features you need to run a successful liquor business? Here’s our free Guide to Liquor Store Inventory Management.

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