ABC-521 Instructions

Instructions for filling out the Issuance of Original and Intercounty Transfer of On-Sale General and Off-Sale General Licenses (Form ABC-521). Please read all instructions before filing your application.

Revised 07/20

Printable Application Package

Download a printable copy of the ABC-521 Instructions & Application by clicking the PDF download button.

Introduction

Licenses to sell beer and wine are available year-round from the State if the applicant and the premises qualify. However, general licenses, which authorize the retail sale of beer, wine and distilled spirits, are restricted in number and are authorized to be issued originally and via inter-county transfer only once per year, based upon population vs. existing license ratios within each county.[1] Where there are more applicants than licenses available, drawings are held and “priority” rankings are assigned. Licenses applied for and issued via the priority system are subject to unique requirements and restrictions. The only other way to obtain a general license is to purchase an existing license from someone who has one already within the same county.

Priority Filing Period

During the period of September 14-25, 2020, ABC offices will accept applications for priority licenses in eligible counties (see Eligible Counties section below).

Priority Application Fees

  • Original On-Sale General                                    $15,835
  • Original Off-Sale General                                    $15,835
  • Intercounty Transfer On-Sale General           $6,000
  • Intercounty Transfer Off-Sale General           $6,000

The priority application fee must be paid by certified check, cashier’s check, or money order only. Additional fees (i.e.; fingerprint, annual fees, etc.) are to be collected at the time of filing the formal application.

Unsuccessful drawing participants or those who withdraw their interest in a priority license prior to the drawing or prior to filing a formal application, may request a full refund, minus a $100 service charge.

Successful participants who file a formal application for a priority license will be entitled to a refund in accordance with Business and Professions Code Section 23320. Please note that B&P Section 23320 was amended as of July 1, 2019.

Refunds will be made payable to the applicant(s) listed on the ABC-521, unless noted otherwise.

 If an applicant owes money to California taxing agencies, a claim against the priority application fee may be made by the taxing agency. If such a claim is made, the amount owed will be deducted from the priority application fee at the time of refund and remitted to the taxing agency.

Filing the Priority Application

Applications may be filed in person by filing the application at one of the ABC offices listed on Page 8 or by mail. You may file your application at the local ABC office overseeing the county where your proposed premises will be located, or at any of the listed ABC offices that is more convenient for you. During the priority period, ABC offices will plan to be open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Please note that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we encourage all applicants to mail in their priority application. Some offices have experienced periodic closures throughout the pandemic, and we cannot guarantee at this time that each office will be open for public access during the priority filing period.

Deadline

  • In person: On Friday, September 25, 2020, only those applicants within the doors of the office by 5:00 p.m. may file priority applications. (Please see the note above regarding the potential for office closures and plan accordingly. If dropping an application off, please contact the office first to ensure they are open.)
  • By mail: Your envelope containing Items (1) through (2) below must be postmarked on or before Friday, September 25, 2020.

The following items are required:

  1. Fee – certified check, cashier’s check or money order, payable to: Alcoholic Beverage Control.
  2. Form ABC-521, Priority License Application – To be completed in full by all applicants, including previously qualified ‘P-12’ licensees. The application requires a single signature on behalf of the applicant entity. If not signed in the presence of an ABC employee, the application must be notarized. In signing Form ABC-521, the applicant agrees to comply with conditions and requirements unique to the established priority licensing process. Failure to comply with the conditions and requirements may result in automatic withdrawal of the application and cancellation of an applicant’s priority position.

Names(s) on Priority Application

The application for a priority license must include the names of all persons or entities who have an ownership interest in the priority application or in the business to be licensed. Failure to list all persons/entities is grounds for disqualification and loss of priority status.  

An incomplete or inaccurate application will not be accepted and will likely render the applicant ineligible for a priority license.

Residency

To be eligible to participate in a priority drawing, an applicant must have been a resident of California for at least 90 days prior to the date of the drawing. If a drawing is necessary, an applicant for a priority license will be required to prove residency via submission of the below described documents:

  • Individuals — Proof of residency can be established via documents such as a California Driver License, utility bills, voter registration, etc.
  • Partnerships — Each partner must provide proof of residency; see information under “Individuals”, above.
  • Corporations — The 90-day residence begins with the date its Articles of Incorporation are filed with the Secretary of State. For out-of-state corporations, the 90-day residency begins with the date registered with the Secretary of State to do business in California.
  • Limited Partnerships The 90-day residency begins with the date the form LP-1 is filed with the Secretary of State. For out-of-state limited partnerships, the 90-day residency begins with the date registered with the Secretary of State to do business in California.
  • Limited Liability Companies — The 90-day residency begins with the date the form LLC-1 is filed with the Secretary of State. For out-of-state limited liability companies, the 90-day residency begins with the date registered with the Secretary of State to do business in California.

Failure to provide proof of residency as described above will result in being disqualified from the priority licensing process.

Conditions and Restrictions

Applicant

No person or entity who files for a priority license may have an interest in any other priority application for the same type of license in the same county and drawing. However, an applicant for an original general license may also file an application for the inter-county transfer of a general license of the same type in the same county.

  • Applicants may not pool funds to file more than one priority application for the same type of license and transaction.
  • A married couple may file only one priority application for the same type of license and transaction.
  • No corporation, limited partnership or limited liability company may file a priority application if it holds the interest in another entity that has filed for the same type of license and transaction in the same county.
  • If more than one corporation, limited partnership or limited liability company is a subsidiary of the same parent, only one may file a priority application for the same type of license and transaction.
  • A person or entity who holds ownership interest in a priority applicant entity, or who is a principal (officer, director, LLC manager, general partner, etc.) of an applicant entity, may not hold interest in or be a principal of another applicant entity for the same type of license and transaction in the same county.

Each priority application must show the names of all persons having an interest in the license application and related business, including all:

  • Partners
  • General and limited partners of a Limited Partnership
  • Corporate officers and directors
  • Stockholders or prospective stockholders
  • Limited liability company officers, managers, and members

Additional partners may not be added after the priority application period. Any changes in ownership or management that occur within an applicant entity between the time of filing a priority application and actual issuance of a priority license which results in the entity, via its principals or owners, having more than one opportunity in a single priority drawing, will be cause for disqualification.

Priority of Applicants

If the number of applicants is equal to or less than the number of licenses available, all applicants will be notified that they have 90 days to complete a formal application for their specific premises.

If there are more applicants than licenses available, a public drawing will be held; the time, date, and place of any drawing will be posted on the ABC website. After the drawing is held, the Department will notify each applicant by mail of their priority position.

 Successful Drawing Participants

  • A successful drawing participant is one whose priority position (number) is lower than the number of licenses available. These applicants will be notified that they have 90 days to complete a formal application for their specific premises.
  • Successful drawing participants who do not wish to proceed with filing a formal application may withdraw their interest and request a full refund, minus a $100 service charge. Once a formal application has been filed, the applicant will only be entitled to a refund in accordance with B&P Code Section 23320. Please note that this section was amended as of July 1, 2019. (Also, see Application Fees section above regarding claims by California taxing agencies).

Unsuccessful Drawing Participants

  • An unsuccessful drawing participant is one whose priority position (number) is higher than the number of licenses available.
  • The priority application fee, minus a $100 service charge, will be refunded to each unsuccessful drawing participant. Refund checks will be mailed within 90-120 days of the priority drawing (See Application Fees section above regarding claims by California taxing agencies).
  • Unsuccessful drawing participants will maintain the priority position assigned to them at the priority drawing. In the event a successful applicant is disqualified or withdraws, the next drawing participant in order of priority will be contacted and will have 30 days to repay the previously refunded priority application fee, and an additional 60 days to file a formal application.
  • In order to maintain priority position, unsuccessful drawing participants are encouraged to notify ABC of any change in mailing address that occurs while the priority drawing lists are active.

Expiration of Priority

Priority drawing lists automatically expire the day before the following year’s list is established.

Formal Application For Priority License

A priority applicant must file a formal application for a specific location within 90 days of the Department’s notification and authorization to do so. Failure to file a formal application within the 90 day period will result in loss of priority position and the opportunity to apply will be extended to the next applicant on the list. In addition to the below, all statutory requirements and Departmental procedures set forth for issuing other original retail licenses apply to formal applications for priority licenses.

Proof of Tenancy

Prior to license issuance, a priority applicant must present proof of a two-year right of tenancy (rental agreement, lease, grant deed, etc.) at the applied-for premises. As the required two-year tenancy requirement starts when the license issues and there is no guarantee that a license will be granted, it is suggested that any financial agreements be contingent upon actual issuance of the priority license.

Premises

At the time of filing formal application, an on-sale general priority applicant is to designate planned operation as one of the below:

  1. A bona fide public eating place as defined by Business and Professions Code section 23038; or
  2. A public premises as defined by Business and Professions Code section 23039, but only if the applicant is able to establish during the formal application process that substantial public demand for issuance of the license cannot otherwise be satisfied; or
  3. A club as defined and authorized by Business and Professions Code sections 23037 and 23399.2; or
  4. A on-sale general brew-pub restaurant as defined by Business and Professions Code section 23396.3.

Generally, an applicant for a priority license may only make formal application at a location not currently licensed with the same license type. Under certain circumstances, the department may allow formal application to be made at a location already licensed with the same license type if:

  1. The applicant holds no ownership interest in the existing license and there is no conflicting business relationship or arrangement between the applicant and the existing license holder, and;
  2. The existing license is surrendered under Rule 65 at or before filing of the formal application and remains surrendered throughout the application process (unless transferred to another premises).

Once formal application for a priority license has been made, no change in the location of the applied-for license will be permitted after the expiration of the 90-day period in which the priority application must be filed, except for causes beyond the control of the applicant and with approval of the ABC Director.

An on-sale license and an off-sale license may be located at the same location only if they are physically separated and operated independently of each other, and the privileges granted to each are to be exercised in a bona fide manner.

In any case involving the denial of a priority license application, the applicant’s priority position will be canceled and the fee refunded.

For a Period of Two (2) Years After Issuance of the Priority License

  • The license shall not be transferable from the licensee to any other person except as provided in Section 24071, and only when the Department determines that the transfer is necessary to prevent undue hardship.
  • The licensee shall not, directly or indirectly, enter into any negotiations or agreements respecting the sale or transfer of the license, unless the Department has determined that undue hardship exists.
  • If an undue hardship transfer is authorized by the Department, an original priority license may not be sold for more than the original fee paid for the license.
  • Certain changes in ownership and interest within an entity holding a priority license are allowed before the above-described time periods elapse. For instance, a corporation holding an original priority license may appoint new directors, elect new officers and transfer less than 50% of its outstanding stock within two years of license issuance. However, a change in ownership/interest in such a licensed entity may not result in a person who had ownership/interest in another priority application for the same type of license and transaction, within the same county and year, obtaining ownership/interest in the licensed entity. If this occurs, the license will be subject to administrative action which could result in its revocation.
  • The license shall not be exchanged for a public premises license, unless the licensee can show that a substantial public demand cannot otherwise be satisfied.

Additional Restrictions on Intercounty Priority Licenses

Generally, for a period of five years following issuance of an inter-county priority license, such license cannot be transferred for a purchase price exceeding the original priority fee paid to the Department within the past five years, regardless of amount(s) paid for the license in any previous transfer(s).

Eligible Counties

This year, the following counties will be eligible for additional on-sale general and off-sale general licenses, as follows:

County New On-Sale New Off-Sale Intercounty On-Sale Intercounty Off-Sale
Alameda 25 25 6 25
Alpine 2 0 0 0
Contra Costa 25 25 25 25
El Dorado 0 1 0 0
Fresno 25 3 25 0
Glenn 1 0 0 0
Imperial 5 4 5 0
Kern 25 3 25 0
Kings 4 0 4 0
Lassen 1 0 0 0
Los Angeles 25 25 25 25
Madera 5 0 5 0
Merced 8 1 8 0
Napa 5 0 0 0
Orange 12 25 0 25
Placer 0 4 0 0
Riverside 25 25 25 25
Sacramento 25 25 25 25
San Benito 2 0 2 0
San Bernardino 25 25 25 25
San Diego 25 25 7 25
San Joaquin 25 4 25 0
San Mateo 0 24 0 24
Santa Clara 8 25 0 25
Santa Cruz 0 8 0 0
Solano 16 12 16 0
Stanislaus 22 0 22 0
Sutter 4 1 1 0
Tehama 3 2 0 0
Tulare 15 0 15 0
Ventura 21 2 0 0
Yolo 9 1 9 0
Yuba 3 0 3 0

 

List of ABC Offices and their Applicable Counties

County District Office Address Phone
Alameda Oakland 1515 Clay Street Suite 2208 (510) 622-4970
Alpine Sacramento 2400 Del Paso Rd. Suite 155 (916) 419-1319
Amador Sacramento 2400 Del Paso Rd. Suite 155 (916) 419-1319
Butte Redding 1900 Churn Creek Rd., Suite 215 (530) 224-4830
Calaveras Stockton 31 E. Channel Street, Rm. 168 (209) 948-7739
Colusa Sacramento 2400 Del Paso Rd. Suite 155 (916) 419-1319
Contra Costa Oakland 1515 Clay Street Suite 2208 (510) 622-4970
Del Norte Eureka 1105 6th Street, Suite C (707) 445-7229
El Dorado Sacramento 2400 Del Paso Rd. Suite 155 (916) 419-1319
Fresno Fresno 1330 B East Shaw Ave. (559) 225-6334
Glenn Redding 1900 Churn Creek Rd., Suite 215 (530) 224-4830
Humboldt Eureka 1105 6th Street, Suite C (707) 445-7229
Imperial Palm Desert 34-160 Gateway Drive, Suite 120 (760) 324-2027
Inyo Bakersfield 4800 Stockdale Hwy., Suite 213 (661) 395-2731
Kern Bakersfield 4800 Stockdale Hwy., Suite 213 (661) 395-2731
Kings Fresno 1330 B East Shaw Ave. (559) 225-6334
Lake Santa Rosa 50 D Street, Rm. 130 (707) 576-2165
Lassen Redding 1900 Churn Creek Rd., Suite 215 (530) 224-4830
Los Angeles - Central LA Metro 888 South Figueroa Street, Suite 320 (213) 833-6043
Los Angeles - North Central Van Nuys 6150 Van Nuys Blvd., Room 220 (818) 901-5017
Los Angeles - Northeastern Monrovia 222 E. Huntington Drive, Suite 114 (626) 256-3241
Los Angeles - Northwestern Van Nuys 6150 Van Nuys Blvd., Room 220 (818) 901-5017
Los Angeles - Southwestern Lakewood/LBO 3950 Paramount Blvd., Suite 250 (562) 982-1337
Madera Fresno 1330 B East Shaw Ave. (559) 225-6334
Marin Santa Rosa 50 D Street, Rm. 130 (707) 576-2165
Mariposa Stockton 31 E. Channel Street, Rm. 168 (209) 948-7739
Mendocino Santa Rosa 50 D Street, Rm. 130 (707) 576-2165
Merced Stockton 31 E. Channel Street, Rm. 168 (209) 948-7739
Modoc Redding 1900 Churn Creek Rd., Suite 215 (530) 224-4830
Mono Bakersfield 4800 Stockdale Hwy., Suite 213 (661) 395-2731
Monterey Salinas 1137 Westridge Parkway (831) 755-1990
Napa Santa Rosa 50 D Street, Rm. 130 (707) 576-2165
Nevada Sacramento 2400 Dal Paso Rd. Suite 155 (916) 419-1319
Orange Santa Ana 2 MacArthur Place #200 (657) 205-3533
Placer Sacramento 2400 Del Paso Rd. Suite 155 (916) 419-1319
Plumas Redding 1900 Churn Creek Rd., Suite 215 (530) 224-4830
Riverside Riverside 3737 Main Street, Suite 900 (951) 782-4400
Riverside - Desert areas Palm Desert 34-160 Gateway Drive, Suite 120 (760) 324-2027
Sacramento Sacramento 2400 Del Paso Rd. Suite 155 (916) 419-1319
San Benito Salinas 1137 Westridge Parkway (831) 755-1990
San Bernardino Riverside 3737 Main Street, Suite 900 (951) 782-4400
San Bernardino - Desert areas Palm Desert 34-160 Gateway Drive, Suite 120 (760) 324-2027
San Diego - North San Marcos 570 Rancheros Drive, Suite 240 (760) 471-4237
San Diego - South San Diego 1350 Front Street, Room 5056 (619) 525-4064
San Francisco San Francisco 33 New Montgomery St., Suite 1230 (415) 356-6500
San Joaquin Stockton 31 E. Channel Street, Rm. 168 (209) 948-7739
San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo 3220 S. Higuera Street, Suite 233 (805) 543-7183
San Mateo San Francisco 33 New Montgomery St., Suite 1230 (415) 356-6500
Santa Barbara - North San Luis Obispo 3220 S. Higuera Street, Suite 233 (805) 543-7183
Santa Barbara - South Ventura 1000 South Hill Road, Suite 310 (805) 289-0100
Santa Clara San Jose 100 Paseo de San Antonio. Rm. 119 (408) 277-1200
Santa Cruz Salinas 1137 Westridge Parkway (831) 755-1990
Shasta Redding 1900 Churn Creek Rd., Suite 215 (530) 224-4830
Sierra Sacramento 2400 Del Paso Rd. Suite 155 (916) 419-1319
Siskiyou Redding 1900 Churn Creek Rd., Suite 215 (530) 224-4830
Solano Oakland 1515 Clay Street Suite 2208 (510) 622-4970
Sonoma Santa Rosa 50 D Street, Rm. 130 (707) 576-2165
Stanislaus Stockton 31 E. Channel Street, Rm. 168 (209) 948-7739
Sutter Sacramento 2400 Del Paso Rd. Suite 155 (916) 419-1319
Tehama Redding 1900 Churn Creek Rd., Suite 215 (530) 224-4830
Trinity Redding 1900 Churn Creek Rd., Suite 215 (530) 224-4830
Tulare Fresno 1330 B East Shaw Ave. (559) 225-6334
Tuolumne Stockton 31 E. Channel Street, Rm. 168 (209) 948-7739
Ventura Ventura 1000 South Hill Road, Suite 310 (805) 289-0100
Yolo Sacramento 2400 Del Paso Rd. Suite 155 (916) 419-1319
Yuba Sacramento 2400 Del Paso Rd. Suite 155 (916) 419-1319

Footnotes

[1] Article XX. Section 22 of the State Constitution and Sections 23793, 23816, 23817, 23821, 23954.5, 23961, 23962, 24070, 24071, 24072, and 24079 of the ABC Act, and Rule 60.2 of Division 1, Title 4 of the California Code of Regulations.

Contact

For additional information,
contact your local ABC District Office.

- OR -


Bakersfield

map

4800 Stockdale Highway., Suite 213
Bakersfield CA, 93309

Phone:
(661) 395-2731
Fax:
(661) 322-5929
Email:
Bakersfield@abc.ca.gov

Eureka

map

1105 Sixth St., Suite C
Eureka CA, 95501

Phone:
(707) 445-7229
Fax:
(707) 445-6643
Email:
Eureka@abc.ca.gov

Fresno

map

1330 B East Shaw Ave.
Fresno CA, 93710-7902

Phone:
(559) 225-6334
Fax:
(559) 225-8740
Email:
Fresno@abc.ca.gov

LA/Metro

map

888 S Figueroa Street, Suite 320
Los Angeles CA, 90017

Phone:
(213) 833-6043
Fax:
(213) 833-6058
Email:
LAMetro@abc.ca.gov

LB/Lakewood

map

3950 Paramount Blvd., Suite 250
Lakewood CA, 90712

Phone:
(562) 982-1337
Fax:
(562) 982-1396
Email:
LongBeach/Lakewood@abc.ca.gov

Monrovia

map

222 E. Huntington Dr., Suite 114
Monrovia CA, 91016

Phone:
(626) 256-3241
Fax:
(626) 357-4173
Email:
Monrovia@abc.ca.gov

Oakland

map

1515 Clay Street, Ste 2208
Oakland CA , 94612

Phone:
(510) 622-4970
Fax:
(510) 622-4990
Email:
Oakland@abc.ca.gov

Palm Desert

map

34-160 Gateway Dr., Suite 120
Palm Desert CA, 92211

Phone:
(760) 324-2027
Fax:
(760) 324-2632
Email:
PalmDesert@abc.ca.gov

Redding

map

1900 Churn Creek Rd., Suite 215
Redding CA, 96002

Phone:
(530) 224-4830
Fax:
(530) 224-9338
Email:
Redding@abc.ca.gov

Riverside

map

3737 Main Street, Suite 900
Riverside CA, 92501

Phone:
(951) 782-4400
Fax:
(951) 781-0531
Email:
Riverside@abc.ca.gov

Sacramento

map

2400 Del Paso Road, Suite 155
Sacramento CA, 95834

Phone:
(916) 419-1319
Fax:
(916) 419-3994
Email:
Sacramento@abc.ca.gov

Salinas

map

1137 Westridge Parkway
Salinas CA, 93907

Phone:
(831) 755-1990
Fax:
(831) 755-1997
Email:
Salinas@abc.ca.gov

San Diego

map

1350 Front St., Room 5056
San Diego CA, 92101

Phone:
(619) 525- 4064
Fax:
(619) 231-1171
Email:
SanDiego@abc.ca.gov

San Francisco

map

33 New Montgomery St., Suite 1230
San Francisco CA, 94105

Phone:
(415) 356-6500
Fax:
(415) 356-6599
Email:
SanFrancisco@abc.ca.gov

San Jose

map

100 Paseo de San Antonio, Room 119
San Jose CA, 95113

Phone:
(408) 277-1200
Fax:
(408) 971-9421
Email:
SanJose@abc.ca.gov

San Luis Obispo

map

3220 S. Higuera St., Suite 233
San Luis Obispo CA, 93401

Phone:
(805) 543-7183
Fax:
(805) 543-3814
Email:
SanLuisObispo@abc.ca.gov

San Marcos

map

570 Rancheros Drive, Suite 240
San Marcos CA, 92069

Phone:
(760) 471-4237
Fax:
(760) 471-6142
Email:
SanMarcos@abc.ca.gov

Santa Ana

map

2 MacAurthur Place, Suite 200
Santa Ana CA, 92707

Phone:
(657) 205-3533
Fax:
(657) 205-3520
Email:
SantaAna@abc.ca.gov

Santa Rosa

map

50 D Street, Room 130
Santa Rosa CA, 95404

Phone:
(707) 576-2165
Fax:
(707)527-9537
Email:
SantaRosa@abc.ca.gov

Stockton

map

31 E. Channel St., Room 168
Stockton CA, 95202

Phone:
(209) 948-7739
Fax:
(209) 546-7853
Email:
Stockton@abc.ca.gov

Van Nuys

map

6150 Van Nuys Blvd., Room 220
Van Nuys CA, 91401

Phone:
(818) 901-5017
Fax:
(818) 785-3761
Email:
VanNuys@abc.ca.gov

Ventura

map

1000 South Hill Road, Suite 310
Ventura CA, 93003

Phone:
(805) 289-0100
Fax:
(805) 289-0110
Email:
Ventura@abc.ca.gov