Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently asked questions about alcoholic beverage licenses, license transfers, micro-enterprise home kitchens, and the online beer price posting system.
What is an alcoholic beverage license?
A license issued under the Act is a permit to do that which would otherwise be unlawful. A license is not a right, but is a privilege, which can be suspended or revoked by administrative action because of violation of the Act or departmental rule. (Sections 23300 and 23355)
What are the types of retail licenses?
- On-Sale General-authorizes the sale of all types of alcoholic beverages: namely, beer, wine and distilled spirits, for consumption on the premises, and the sale of beer and wine for consumption off the premises.
- Off-Sale General-authorizes the sale of all types of alcoholic beverages for consumption off the premises in original, sealed containers.
- On-Sale Beer and Wine-authorizes the sale of all types of wine and malt beverages (e.g., beer, porter, ale, stout and malt liquor) for consumption on and off the premises.
- Off-Sale Beer and Wine-authorizes the sale of all types of wine and malt beverages for consumption off the premises in original, sealed containers.
- On-Sale Beer-authorizes the sale of malt beverages for consumption on and off the premises (Sections 23393, 23394, 23396 and 23399).
What is a “bona fide public eating place”?
Licensed premises that are maintained in good faith and used for the regular service of meals to patrons. The premises must have suitable kitchen facilities and supply an assortment of foods commonly ordered at various hours of the day. (Sections 23038 and 23787)
May a person who holds a license for a bona fide public eating place lease out the food concession?
Yes. Upon notification to ABC, such a licensee may sublet the sale and service of meals. The licensee shall continue to be responsible for any violations caused or permitted by the food lessee on the licensed premises. The licensee shall not sublet to a person who does not have the qualifications of a 1icensee. (Section 23787 and Rules 57.7 and 57.8)
What is meant by “public premises”?
No person under 21 years of age is allowed on public premises.
There are two classes of public premises:
As to on-sale general and on-sale beer and wine licenses, this means premises maintained and operated for the sale and service of alcoholic beverages to the public for consumption on the premises, and in which food is not sold or served to the public as in a bona fide eating place, although food products may be sold or served incidentally to the sale or service of alcoholic beverages.
As to on-sale beer licenses, this means premises maintained and operated for sale or service of beer to the public for consumption on the premises, and in which no food is sold or served. An on-sale beer licensed premises on which food (sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, tacos, salads or similar short orders) is prepared and sold for consumption on the premises is not an on-sale beer public premises. (Section 23029 and Rule 67.
What beverages may the holder of an on-sale license sell for consumption off the licensed premises in original, sealed containers?
Unless restricted by special license conditions, on-sale general and on-sale beer and wine licensees may sell all types of wine and malt beverages.
Unless restricted by special license conditions, on-sale beer licensees may sell malt beverages. The privilege of selling distilled spirits to-go comes only with an off-sale general license (Section 23401).
Can any person obtain an alcoholic beverage license?
ABC may refuse to issue a license to any person who has violated the ACT, has a disqualifying criminal record, or is otherwise disqualified.
When is a duplicate license required?
An on-sale general licensee who maintains on his/her licensed premises more than one room in which a fixed counter or service bar is regularly maintained and at which distilled spirits are served to the public must apply for a duplicate license and pay a full annual fee for each such license. A duplicate license is not transferable by itself. (Sections 24042 and 24042.5)
May ABC deny the renewal of an existing license?
Yes, if the licensee has not paid an annual license fee. Otherwise, every license now in effect (other than temporary retail permits and special daily licenses) is renewable unless such license has been revoked after hearing on an accusation. (Section 24048)
When must licenses be renewed?
It is the responsibility of the licensee to renew his license whether or not he has received a renewal notice from ABC.
All licenses may be renewed by paying the required renewal fee before the license expires.
Following the expiration of a license, the licensee may legally operate for an additional 60 days during which time the license may be renewed by paying the renewal fee and a 50% penalty. If the renewal fee and penalty fee has not been paid within 60 days of the expiration of a license, the license is canceled and the licensee may not exercise any privileges of the license. The licensee does have and additional 30 days in which to reactivate the license by paying the renewal fee and a 100% penalty. If the penalty and renewal fee are not paid by the end of the 30th day following cancellation, the license is revoked. (Section 24048)
How soon does the license have to be put in use?
Any license must be in use within 30 days of the date of issuance, unless approval is received from ABC for premises under construction. (Section 24040)
Where may alcoholic beverages be stored when there is no room for them on the licensed premises?
Tax-paid beer and wine may be stored anywhere. Distilled spirits may be stored in a licensed public warehouse, or petition may be made to ABC for approval of a private warehouse. this private warehouse must be located in the same county as the licensed premises. ABC’s approval is necessary before placing the distilled spirits in storage in a private warehouse. (Section 23106 and Rule 76)
How many feet must licensed premises be from a church, a school, or residences?
The law says ABC may deny any retail license located (a) within the immediate vicinity of churches and hospitals, or (b) within at least 600 feet of schools, public playgrounds and nonprofit youth facilities. Generally, ABC will deny a license in the above situations when there is evidence that normal operation of the licensed premises will be contrary to public welfare and morals. Mere proximity by itself is not sufficient to deny the license.
ABC will not license a new retail location within 100 feet of a residence unless the applicant can establish that the operation of the proposed premises will not interfere with the quiet enjoyment of the property by residents. (Section 23789 and Rule 61.4)
What is meant by license “Limitation” ?
Since 1939 the number of certain retail licenses has been limited. At present, the ratio is one on-sale general license for each 2,000 persons in the county in which the premises are situated and one off-sale general license for each 2,500 persons.
What organizations are eligible for a club license?
Types of clubs such as golf, swimming, tennis, press, yachting, rod and gun, riding, bar associations, airlines club, medical associations, social and others may be eligible for a club license providing such club meets the standards established by law as to membership, premises ownership, time of origin and services available. (Sections 23425-23435, 23320.1, 23399.2, 23825, 24072.5 and 24078)
Are such clubs restricted to on-sale privileges?
Yes, Club licenses and veterans’ club licenses may not make sales for consumption off the premises. (Sections 23431, 23453 and 23437)
Can a license be transferred from one person to another person without making an application to ABC?
No. An application signed by both the present licensee and the transferee must be filed with ABC. ABC then proceeds as it would on a new application and may deny the transfer if the transferee-applicant is not qualified for a license. If such transfer also involves a change of the premises, ABC’s approval of the new premises is required. (Sections 24070 and 24073)
Does the filing of the application for transfer accomplish the transfer of the license?
No. Neither the transferor nor the transferee should assume that the license will be transferred on a particular date, or at all, merely because the application has been filed. ABC may deny the application, or protests or accusations may be filed which may result in delay or denial of the transfer.
ABC is not required to investigate the personal qualifications or premises of a currently licensed person when a license is being transferred between partners and no new partner is being licensed. (Sections 23958, 23958.2, 24013 and 24070)
How long does it normally take for the issuance or transfer of a license?
Most investigations take approximately 55-65 days, and by law the license cannot be issued for a minimum of 30 days. Circumstances often result in a longer waiting period; therefore, before final approval and issuance of a license, applicants are cautioned regarding extensive financial commitments, plans for grand openings, etc.
If new construction or considerable remodeling is necessary, the applicant should seek prior approval under Section 24044 before beginning any actual work.
Pending transfer of the license, may the intended transferee operate the licensed business?
The transferee may operate the licensed premises during the transfer period if a 120-day permit has been obtained. To qualify for this temporary permit, the premises must be currently licensed and have been operating within the past 30 days prior to application.
When the lease on the licensed premises is terminated and the premises must be vacated, what is required of the licensee?
A licensee must surrender his/her license to ABC within 15 days. During the maximum one year surrender period the licensee may transfer the license to other locations or transfer the license to other persons. All renewal fees must be paid during the surrender period. (Sections 23053.5, 23320, 24072, 24072.1, Rules 60 and 65)
What steps are required for the issuance or transfer of an alcoholic beverage license?
A person who wants to apply for an ABC license must start with the nearest ABC District Office. An ABC staff member will ask the applicant questions about the proposed operation and determine the type of license needed. The staff member will then advise the applicant what forms and fees are needed to file the application. Some applicants, before filing an application with ABC, must first obtain approval from zoning officials, open an escrow, or go to the office of the County Recorder for a certified copy of a Notice of Intended Transfer.
Generally, all parties must appear at the District Office. This is not generally a “mail-in” process because ABC requires personal information such as personal history affidavits. Fees are paid at this time. The applicant also views a video about ABC laws. A temporary permit may be issued under certain conditions.
Does ABC notify local officials of the license application?
Yes. ABC mails a copy of the application to local officials as required by law. If the premises is in the city, a copy goes to the police department, city council and city planning department. If the premises is in the county, a copy goes to the sheriff’s department, board of supervisors and district attorney. If local officials have concerns about the issuance of a license, they may request or impose restrictions on the business operation, or they may file a protest. (Section 23987)
Common concerns are that the license:
- Would create a public nuisance
- Would cause or add to crime in the area
- Would be contrary to a zoning law
- Is in a high-crime area or an area that has too many licenses and would not serve public convenience or necessity
In the case of number 4, the City Council or Board of Supervisors has 90 days to determine this and notify ABC. If the City Council or Board of Supervisors does not decide within 90 days, ABC may issue the license if the applicant shows ABC that issuance would serve public convenience or necessity.
Does ABC conduct an investigation of license applications?
Yes. ABC conducts a thorough investigation, as required by law, to see if the applicant and the premises qualify for a license. (Section 23958)
What are the responsibilities of a license applicant?
It is the applicant’s responsibility to:
- Post the Public Notice of Application at the premises for 30 days, and
- Give information to ABC as needed for the investigation
In some cases, ABC may also require the applicant to:
- Publish a notice in the newspaper
- Mail a notice to all persons living within a 500′ radius of the premises, and/or
- Obtain proof from the local planning department that the zoning permits an ABC license.
(Sections 23985, 23958, 23986, 23985.5 and 23790)
In case of death or incompetency to act as a sole licensee, who may exercise the privileges of the license?
The privileges of the license may be exercised by any person acting on behalf of the deceased or incompetent licensee or the estate for a specified period or until an administrator, executor, etc., is appointed. (Section 23102)
Does the law prohibit pledging the transfer of a license as security for a loan or as security for the fulfillment of any agreement?
Yes. The law prohibits a licensee from pledging the license as security for a loan or as security for the fulfillment of any agreement. In their transfer application both transferor and transferee must state under oath that the transfer is not being made (a) to satisfy the payment of a loan or to fulfill an agreement entered into more than 90 days before the transfer application is filed, (b) to gain or establish a preference to or for any creditor of the transferor, except as permitted by Section 24074, (c) to defraud or injure any creditor of the transferor. (Section 24076)
How long can the licensed premises be closed before the licensee must surrender possession of the license?
When licensed premises are closed, or the exercise of the privileges of the license is discontinued for any reason for a period of 15 consecutive days, the license must be surrendered to ABC. The license may be reactivated upon request of the licensee made at least 10 days in advance. (Rule 65)
May an applicant have some assurance of the issuance of a license before construction of the premises to be licensed is begun or completed?
ABC may approve an application for premises under construction. A retail license may be transferred or issued by ABC to premises which are under construction and the transferor has closed his business or surrendered his license. No alcoholic beverages shall be sold until the premises are completed. Actual delivery of the license is withheld until ABC is satisfied that all conditions set forth in the law and rules are met. (Section 24044 and Rule 64)
Micro-Enterprise Home Kitchen (AB-626)
AB-626 established “micro-enterprise home kitchens” (MEHKs) as a new category of retail food facilities. The Department has received a number of inquiries about whether MEHKs are eligible for licensure under the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act (“ABC Act”) and what activities pertaining to alcohol are permitted in MEHKs. There are a number of factors that are considered when licensing any business for the sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages, and there are various restrictions on what licensed and unlicensed businesses are permitted to do. This FAQ endeavors to address several of the key issues, but this is not a comprehensive review or analysis of the law and any person seeking to sell or provide alcoholic beverages, or to allow the consumption of alcoholic beverages on the premises, should obtain independent legal advice.
Do I need a license from ABC?
The laws concerning the regulation of alcoholic beverages may be found in the ABC Act (starting with Section 23000 of the Business and Professions Code). The circumstances under which a license is required to be obtained from ABC are very broad, and encompass all situations in which alcoholic beverages are sold. This includes the common circumstances whereby alcoholic beverages are sold for consideration (typically money), but also includes where the price of a meal (for example) includes alcoholic beverages or when a business allows customers to bring their own alcohol for consumption.
If I don’t get a license from ABC can I let people bring their own alcohol?
No. As indicated above, if a business, such as a MEHK, provides a place for people to bring their own alcoholic beverages to consume in conjunction with a meal sold under the MEHK permit, a license is required from ABC.
What type of license do I need?
California law provides two types of licenses allowing for the consumption of alcoholic beverages on the licensed premises in connection with the operation of a restaurant. One license allows for the sale or consumption of beer and wine; the other allows for distilled spirits in addition to beer and wine.
Is a MHK eligible for an ABC license?
Whenever an application for an ABC license is made, the Department conducts an investigation to determine if both the person and the location meet the necessary licensing requirements. There are a number of factors involved, so it is not possible to determine whether any particular person or location may be eligible to hold a license prior to the completion of the investigation or, often, an administrative hearing. However, in addition to other things, a business operating a restaurant, such as in the case of a MEHK, must minimally meet the requirements of operating a “bona fide eating place.” The general requirements for this may be found in Business and Professions Code Section 23038. Some of the requirements are that the business be “kept open for the serving of meals to guests” in a regular and bona fide manner. In addition, the premises must have “suitable kitchen facilities” and “conveniences for cooking an assortment of foods which may be required for ordinary meals.” Given the statutory requirements for the operation of a MEHK, it is possible that such businesses may be eligible to hold a license issued by ABC. This does not mean, however, that every such business will be approved for such a license. As indicated, the Department will evaluate each application on a case-by-case basis.
If I obtain an ABC license, will there be any restrictions?
The ABC Act requires licensees and licensed locations to comply with many statutory provisions. In addition, if a MEHK is approved for an ABC license, the Department may include conditions that could restrict the operation of the business beyond those statutory requirements. If you do choose to obtain an ABC license, you need to understand that the premises is licensed all the time, 24/7/365. This means that you are required to comply with the laws applicable to licensed businesses at all times, in the same manner as other licensees and licensed locations (such as “regular” bars or restaurants). Even though MEHKs are operated in peoples’ homes, if an ABC license is obtained, they must comply with the laws applicable to the license issued. For example, if the MEHK is licensed to sell beer and wine, no distilled spirits are permitted on the premises (except for brandy, rum, or liqueurs used solely for cooking purposes) at any time. Similarly, no alcoholic beverages may be consumed on the licensed premises between the hours of 2 AM and 6 AM, or as otherwise limited by a condition on the license.
If I am not actually operating the business, do I still need to comply with the rules on my ABC license?
Yes. As indicated above, once licensed, the premises is subject to the laws governing the licensed business and location at all times, even if meals are not being offered or sold under the MEHK. As a consequence, if you license part of your residence so you can offer alcoholic beverages in conjunction with the meals sold and served under your MEHK permit, that licensed area will be subject to the license restrictions even when you return it to regular use as a residence.
What would happen if I don’t get a license but include alcohol or allow people to bring their own alcohol?
Either situation is a violation of several different laws, including, for example exercising privileges for which a license is required without holding a license (Business and Professions Code Sections 23300 and 23355), operation of a “bottle club” (Business and Professions Code Section 25604), or creating a public or private nuisance under the Unlawful Liquor Sale Abatement Law (Penal Code Sections 11200 to 11207). Such violations could subject you to criminal prosecution, a civil action for damages, or loss of your permit to operate an MEHK.
Online Beer Price Posting
Will I continue to submit the ABC-701 in the new online system?
No. The ABC-701 will not be used in the online system. You can post prices in the online system either manually or by bulk upload.
Will I continue to use sheet numbers in the new online system?
No. Sheet numbers will not be used in the online system.
What is a bulk upload?
The online system will allow users to upload their prices via bulk upload utilizing the Excel spreadsheet that can be downloaded from the Beer Price Posting page on the Department’s website.
Can I use any Excel spreadsheet for the bulk upload process?
No. You must use the Price Posting Upload Template. This template can be found on the Beer Price Posting Page on the Department’s website and will be available in the online system. You can add additional columns for your internal use and the system will ignore those columns. However, you must keep the columns that are contained on the Price Posting Upload Template or the system will reject the upload.
Do I have to use a separate spreadsheet for each county?
No. You can use one spreadsheet to upload all of your prices.
What are global settings?
Global settings contain the formatted data that currently exists in the online system such as container sizes, container types, package configurations, and to whom the beer is sold. Users may only post prices using the data that exists in the system.
Can I use abbreviations or variations of the data contained in the global settings?
No. Only the data currently in the global settings may be used. For example, you must use 24 Pack and not 24 pk.
Is the data in the global settings case sensitive?
The data is not case sensitive; however, you must input the exact word and must use the correct spelling. For example, for a receiving method, you must use delivery and not deliver.
Where can I find a list of the current global settings?
The current lists of global settings can be found on our website on the Beer Price Posting page.
How do I get a global setting added to the system?
Prior to implementation of the system, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to request a container size, container type, or package configuration be added to the system.
How do I change the administrator of my online beer price posting account?
Please contact ABC at email@example.com to change the administrator of the account.
How many users can I have on my online beer price posting account?
There is no limit to the number of users a licensee has on their account.
An employee that no longer works for me still has access to my online beer price posting account. How do I stop them from accessing that account?
The administrator of the account can deactivate the user profiles on the account. Go to the Licensee Users screen and select the user you wish to deactivate. Under the Actions column, click on “deactivate” next to the user you wish to deactivate.
How can I reactivate a user that I deactivated by mistake?
The administrator of the online beer price posting account can reactivate the user profiles on the account. Go to the Licensee Users screen and select the user you wish to reactivate. Under the Actions column, click on “reactivate” next to the user you wish to reactivate.
How do I change my password?
From the Price Posting Application login screen, click on the Forgot Password link. The system will prompt you to reset your password.
How do I recover my password if I forgot what it is?
A user cannot recover a forgotten password. The user will have to reset their password. From the login screen, click on the Forgot Password link. The system will prompt you to reset your password.
What is the difference between trade name and product name?
Trade name is the company name that is on the label. Product name is the actual name of the beer. For example, the licensed entity ABC LLC does business as Regulation Brewing Company and sells a beer called Legal Ale. In the system, this licensee would input “Regulation Brewing Company” in the trade name field and “Legal Ale” in the product name field. In the system, trade name is an optional field and product name is a mandatory field. Although trade name is an optional field, you must complete this field if the trade name is on the label.
If I made a mistake when inputting my product name(s), is there a way to correct the mistake(s)?
Yes, manufacturers can edit a product name after it has been input into the system. From the products screen, click on the three dots under the Actions column next to the product name you need to edit and click on “edit” and a pop-up window will appear that will allow you to edit the trade name, the product name, or both.
I am a wholesaler and I do not see the name of a product that I sell listed in the system. How do I get it added to the system?
Beer manufacturers must add their product names into the system. You will need to contact the manufacturer of the product to have them enter their product name(s) into the system.
I am a beer manufacturer. Can I input other manufacturer’s products into the system?
No. The system will assign the products to the manufacturer who input them into the system. If a manufacturer inputs a product that is not made by them then that product will show the wrong manufacturer in the system. It is imperative that only the true manufacturer of the beer input the product name into the system.
I am a foreign beer manufacturer who does not ship beer to licensees in California but my beer products are sold in California. How do I add my product name(s) into the system?
What does “manufacturer” mean in the Prices To field?
Manufacturer in the Prices To field means any licensed winegrower, craft distiller, or beer manufacturer.
Do I have to post prices for beer that I make for another manufacturer under contract?
No. The transfer, including the sale, of beer made under contract for another beer manufacturer is permitted without filing the selling price.
What does FOB stand for in the Receiving Method field?
FOB stands for freight on board and is used when a licensee picks up the beer from your licensed premises.
What is the difference between FOB and delivery?
In the Receiving Method field, FOB is used when a licensee picks up beer from your licensed premises and delivery is used when you deliver the beer to the receiving licensee.
On the Price Posting Upload Template, when and how do I use the Effective Immediately Yes/No field?
The Effective Immediately Yes/No field only applies to new prices. If you put “yes” in this column, the price will show a status of active as soon as the file is uploaded in the system. If you put “no” in this column, the price will show a status of active at 12:01 a.m. PT the next day. This feature allows the user to make corrections to the price until 12:00 a.m. PT in the case that an error was made when inputting the information. Otherwise, any changes to a price will not become effective for 10 days as set forth in Section 25002 of the Business and Professions Code.
What is a container charge?
A container charge is also known as a keg deposit.
On the Price Posting Upload Template, is the Container Charge field a required field?
Yes, the Container Charge field is a required field when using the Price Posting Upload Template. If the product is not a keg and does not have a container charge, please put “0” in this field for that item.
What is considered a Trading Area?
Section 25000(a) of the Business and Professions Code defines trading areas as areas within a county based upon natural geographic differences justifying a different price.
Why does the Price Posting Upload Template not include a Trading Area field?
The price posting system must validate the information being input to determine if a price is a duplicate or is otherwise valid. Information contained in the trading area field consists of free form text and is not possible to validate against other free form fields contained in the system.
What is a competitive price?
A competitive price is a change to an active price to meet lower filed competing prices in a trade area. A competitive price shall not be lower than the competitor’s filed price. Competitive prices are effective immediately.
Why can I not post a competitive price using the Price Posting Upload Template?
A licensee must identify the product, product size, package configuration, county, and licensee they are competing against. The system must validate that the competing price is not lower than the competitor’s price identified by the licensee and cannot do so via bulk upload using the Price Posting Upload Template.
How do I make a correction to an error on a new price that I made effective immediately?
The only way to correct an error to a new price that is effective immediately is to make a price change which will take effect 10 days from the date the price change is filed.
What is the Winegrowers/Blenders Report?
Winegrowers and wine blenders must report the total gallonage of wine either produced or blended for the prior fiscal year.
Who is required to submit the Winegrowers/Blenders Report?
Every licensed winegrower or blender is required to report all wine produced or blended including wine produced for other licensees. Only licensees with a Type 02 or Type 22 license are required to report. If you have both license types, you are required to submit a report for each license.
Do I have to submit my Winegrowers/Blenders Report online?
No, for fiscal year 2022/2023, Form ABC-261 will be mailed to you. You can choose to report online or by mail. You will be required to report online for future fiscal years.
Can everyone submit their Winegrowers/Blenders Report online?
Some license numbers may not be eligible to report online for fiscal year 2022/2023. Check whether your license is eligible from your License Administrator account. If you do not see your license number or you see a message that you cannot report online, please return your Form ABC-261 by mail.
How are fees calculated?
Your license renewal fee is based on your predicted gallonage. If you produced or blended more gallons than expected, you may owe an additional fee. If you produced or blended fewer gallons than expected, you may be entitled to a refund. See the Winegrowers/Blenders Report page for more information.
How do I submit a Winegrowers/Blenders Report online?
You can submit your report online as a License Administrator or License Administrator Designee with the Manage License permission. Please review the License Administrator Frequently Asked Questions for information about creating an Online Services account with the License Administrator role.
Once you have created your License Administrator account and added your license numbers, you can select Manage and click Reports. Select your license number from the Winegrowers/Blenders Report dropdown menu.
After selecting your license number, enter the total number of gallons produced or blended for the prior fiscal year. The report will show the amount you paid for your renewal, the gallons you entered, the total fee required, and the amount to be paid or refunded if applicable. If you owe an additional fee, click Pay Now to submit your payment with your report. You can pay online by eCheck or credit card. A 2.99% non-refundable convenience fee will be added to all credit card payments.
Can I edit my gallonage after I submit it?
You will not be able to edit your gallonage after you make a payment. If no payment was made, you may be able to select your license number again and make changes. If your license number is not available to select, it can no longer be edited. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request changes after the report is posted.
Why is my license number unavailable to report online?
Some license numbers may not be eligible to report online for fiscal year 2022/2023. If you do not see your license number or you see a message that you cannot report online, please return your Form ABC-261 by mail.
What is a License Administrator?
The License Administrator is the person responsible for managing your license online. It must be the licensee, or someone authorized by the licensee to perform functions on their behalf. If the License Administrator is not a licensee, you must acknowledge, understand, and agree that the License Administrator has the authority to act for and on your behalf with respect to any information provided or changes made through ABC Online Services. You also accept full responsibility for, and shall be liable for any violation of law based upon, any information provided or changes made by the License Administrator.
Who can be a License Administrator?
A licensee can authorize anyone over the age of 18 to act on their behalf as a License Administrator.
What can I do as a License Administrator?
You can add your license, see your next renewal date, and manage your RBS server roster, if applicable. If you are a winegrower or wine blender, you can report your gallonage. You can invite Designees to help manage your license or RBS server roster. As new features are developed, you will see them in your account.
How do I register as a License Administrator?
Create your account and enter all required information. You will receive an email to confirm your email address. Once your email address is confirmed, you can choose the License Administrator role to complete your registration.
If you already have an account with a Server or Training Provider role, click My Applications, click the New Application button, and choose License Administrator.
You can watch short video tutorials explaining how to Create a License Administrator Account or Add a Role to an Existing Account.
Can I edit my personal information after I register?
You can update your email address or phone number. Log into the RBS Portal, select your email address, and click Profile to make edits. Click Edit on the My Profile page to update your information.
To change your email, replace your current email address with your new email address and type the new email address again to confirm. Click Update and then Submit to submit the change. Do not log out. You will receive an email to the new address to confirm the change. If you do not confirm the new address within 24 hours, it will not be updated. If you are taken to the Login page, you must log in using your username or old email address to confirm the email update. If you cannot access your RBS account, email email@example.com.
You currently cannot edit your name, birthdate, address, or other personal information. You must register for training with the same information you provided when you created your account.
Can I be a License Administrator for more than one license number?
Yes, you can add multiple license numbers to your License Administrator account. You will need the license number and validation code for each license.
Can I add more than one person as a License Administrator for my license?
No. You can only have one License Administrator for each license number, but you can invite one or more Designees to help manage your license or RBS server roster.
How do I get my validation code?
ABC mailed validation code letters to all licensees in June 2022 and mailed new codes to winegrowers and wine blenders in August 2023. Validation codes expire one year after they are issued if they are not used. If you do not have a validation code or if it has expired please contact your local district office.
Licensees will receive validation code letters for newly issued licenses shortly after receiving their license.
How do I add licenses to my account?
You must add one license to create your account. Once your account is created, you can add your other licenses. At the top of the licenses table click Add, enter the license number and validation code, and click Add License.
How do I remove licenses from my account?
Click Remove and then select the checkbox for the license number to remove it from your account. Once a license is removed, you will not be able to add it again without a new validation code.
Why can’t I add my license?
A unique validation code is assigned to each license number and can only be used one time. Validation codes expire one year after they are issued. If the validation code you enter does not correspond to your license number, if there is an existing License Administrator for your license number, or if the validation code is expired, you will not be able to add the license to your account. Please contact your local district office for a new code.
How can I change the License Administrator for my license?
The current License Administrator must remove the license from their account. Once it has been removed, it can be added to another account, but it must have a new validation code. Contact your local district office for a new code. If a new License Administrator adds the license number, they will need to recreate the RBS server roster and reinvite any License Administrator Designees.
What is RBS?
RBS is statutorily required Responsible Beverage Service training. If your license type is subject to the RBS requirement, you can select the RBS tab at the top of the page to manage your RBS roster. View the RBS Frequently Asked Questions to learn more about RBS requirements and roster management.
What is a License Administrator Designee?
A License Administrator Designee is someone the License Administrator invites to help manage licenses or RBS server rosters. If the License Administrator Designee is not a licensee, you must acknowledge, understand, and agree that the License Administrator Designee has the authority to act for and on your behalf with respect to any information provided or changes made through ABC Online Services. You also accept full responsibility for, and shall be liable for any violation of law based upon, any information provided or changes made by the License Administrator Designee.
Who can be a License Administrator Designee?
A License Administrator can invite anyone over the age of 18 to help manage licenses or RBS server rosters as a License Administrator Designee.
What can a License Administrator Designee do?
A License Administrator Designee can view the license numbers you invite them to, pay renewals, and manage an RBS server roster, if applicable. If you are a winegrower or wine blender and have assigned them the Manage Licenses permission, they can report gallonage on your behalf.
Can I invite more than one License Administrator Designee?
Yes, you can invite more than one License Administrator Designee.
Can someone be a License Administrator Designee for more than one License Administrator?
Yes, a License Administrator Designee can be invited to manage multiple licenses for the same or different License Administrators.
Can a License Administrator Designee add or remove license numbers?
No, a License Administrator Designee cannot add or remove license numbers.
How do I invite a License Administrator Designee?
To invite a License Administrator Designee, choose Manage > Designees from your License Administrator dashboard. Click Add and complete all required fields. Ensure the first and last name are the Designee’s legal name as it appears on government-issued documents.
Select the permissions for the Designee from the Permissions dropdown. Select the Licenses which you are assigning to the Designee from the Licenses dropdown. The permissions and license numbers you select will display under the dropdowns. You can remove permissions or license numbers before you invite the Designee by clicking X.
Click Invite to invite the Designee. The Designee will receive an email to accept the invitation. Once they accept, their status will change from Invited to Active.
If you need to give the Designee different permissions for different license numbers, you must send a separate invitation.
How do I remove a License Administrator Designee?
Click Remove and then select the checkbox for the Designee to remove them from your account. Removing a Designee removes their permissions to their assigned license numbers.
How do I edit a License Administrator Designee’s permissions?
Select the License Administrator Designee and choose Edit. You can add license numbers with the same permissions you’ve already assigned to the Designee. If you need to add permissions, you can invite the Designee with the new permissions. If you need to remove permissions, you must remove the Designee and invite them again with the correct permissions.
Can a License Administrator also be a License Administrator Designee?
Yes, a License Administrator can be a License Administrator Designee for a different license number. The License Administrator Designee can view the License Administrator Designee instructions to learn how to add other roles to their account.
Online License Renewal
How do I renew my license online?
Can everyone pay their license renewal online?
Only licenses which are active, being paid timely, and in their respective renewal phase can be renewed on the Licensing Services Portal.
What types of licenses can be renewed online?
All Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control license types are eligible to be renewed online as long as the license is active, being paid timely, and in its respective renewal phase.
What forms of payment are accepted for online license renewals?
Visa, Mastercard, and eChecks are acceptable forms of payment for online license renewals.
Is there a fee to renew my license online?
A 2.99% non-refundable convenience fee will be added to all credit card payments. There is no fee to renew online with an eCheck.
Am I required to renew online?
No. You can you still renew by mail or in person at a district office.
Can mailing addresses be updated online?
No. Please submit an Advice of Correction to your local district office.
Do I need to create an account to renew my license?
You can create a License Administrator account to manage your license online, including renewing your license online. You are not required to create an account for online renewals.
Can I renew license numbers for multiple locations at the same time?
No. Each license number is renewed separately, but you must renew all license types with the same expiration date at the same time.
Can I renew only my master license but not duplicates?
No. All license types with the same license number and expiration date must be renewed at the same time.
Can I cancel a duplicate or secondary license online?
No. Duplicate and secondary licenses cannot be canceled online. Please contact your local district office if you need to cancel a duplicate or secondary license.
What license statuses are considered active?
A license is active if it has a status of Active, Rule 64b (Issue and Hold), Surrendered (Rule 65), or Suspended.
When will my license expiration date be updated?
License expiration dates are updated in our License Lookup when a new license is issued, which may take 4-6 weeks.
Will I receive a confirmation of my payment?
Yes. You will receive an email confirmation from firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also print a receipt when you make your payment.
Can district offices accept credit card payments in the office?
No. Credit card payments can only be made online.
Sales of Alcoholic Beverages To-Go
What licensees can participate in off-sale alcoholic beverage sales pursuant to this bill?
This bill applies to the holder of an on-sale license that is issued for a bona fide public eating place that has off-sale privileges. This includes Type 41, Type 47, and Type 75 licenses. It also applies to a licensed beer manufacturer, licensed wine manufacturer, or licensed craft distiller that operates a bona fide public eating place at its premises of production.
To sell distilled spirits or wine for off-site consumption as authorized by this bill, the licensee must have on-sale wine or distilled spirits privileges. For example, a Type 41 license cannot sell distilled spirits pursuant to this bill since that license type does not provide distilled spirits privileges.
What is a manufacturer-sealed container vs. a to-go nonmanufacturer-sealed container?
A manufacturer-sealed container is a container, such as a bottle or can, that is filled and sealed by the manufacturer of the alcohol. A nonmanufacturer-sealed container (to-go) is a container filled by the retail licensee that has a secure lid or cap that is sealed in a manner designed to prevent consumption without removal of the lid or cap by breaking the seal. A nonmanufacturer-sealed container is considered an “open container” if transported in a motor vehicle. In addition to other requirements, licensees selling nonmanufacturer-sealed alcoholic beverages to-go must post a notice that states the following:
“Alcoholic beverages that are packaged by this establishment are open containers and shall not be transported in a motor vehicle except in the vehicle’s trunk or, if there is no trunk, the containers shall be kept in some other area of the vehicle that is not normally occupied by the driver or passengers. This does not include a utility compartment or glove compartment (See Vehicle Code Section 23225). Additionally, these beverages shall not be consumed in public or in any other area where open containers are prohibited by law.”
May a to-go nonmanufacturer-sealed container leave the premises after being opened or partly consumed?
No. Licensees are responsible for ensuring compliance with this restriction. Similarly, partially consumed alcoholic beverages, such as those ordered while dining-in, cannot be packaged to-go.
What alcohol can be delivered?
Existing law generally allows an on-sale retail license to sell or deliver manufacturer-sealed containers of beer and wine for consumption off the licensed premises. This bill does not alter these privileges in any way. However, alcoholic beverages sold pursuant to this bill cannot be delivered. This means that manufacturer-sealed distilled spirits and nonmanufacturer-sealed distilled spirits or single-serve wine cannot be delivered to consumers.
What alcohol can be sold in nonmanufacturer-sealed to-go containers?
Manufacturer-sealed distilled spirits and nonmanufacturer-sealed containers of distilled spirits or single-serve wine may be sold for consumption off the licensed premises if the beverages are ordered and picked up directly from the premises in person by the consumer who must present an ID to verify they are of legal age and are the person who placed the order. Beer cannot be sold in a nonmanufacturer-sealed container. Other conditions apply to the sale of nonmanufacturer-sealed to-go alcoholic beverages, including but not limited to, the types of alcohol allowed to be sold under a particular license.
What are the conditions to sell to-go alcoholic beverages not in manufacturer-sealed containers?
Nonmanufacturer-sealed to-go alcoholic beverages may be distilled spirits, mixed drinks, or single-serve wine that are prepared by the on-sale retailer on the licensed premises and are not sold to the consumer in the original manufacturer-sealed container. These types of drinks are considered “open container” alcoholic beverages and may only be sold with a bona fide meal. Further requirements for the sale of nonmanufacturer-sealed to-go alcoholic beverages are:
- Must be ordered and picked up in-person by the consumer directly from the licensee (i.e., they cannot be delivered to the consumer away from the licensed premises). The ordering consumer must present a valid ID to verify legal alcohol consumption age and that they are the consumer who placed the order.
- The alcoholic beverage is packaged in a container with a secure lid or cap that is sealed in a manner designed to prevent consumption without removal of the lid or cap by breaking the seal.
- Wine can only be sold in single-serve containers, meaning containers that hold between 187 milliliters and 355 milliliters (between 6.3 and 12 ounces).
- Mixed drinks and cocktails sold for off-sale consumption cannot contain more than 4.5 ounces of distilled spirits per drink. There is a limit of 2 to-go drinks not in a manufacturer-sealed container per individual meal.
- The alcoholic beverage container must be clearly and conspicuously labeled or otherwise identified as containing alcohol so that it is easily identified as containing an alcoholic beverage.
- There is a specific warning sign posted on the premises, online, or wherever necessary to ensure the consumer purchasing the alcoholic beverages is given notice of open container laws.
- The licensee has notified the Department of their intent to sell nonmanufacturer-sealed to-go containers of alcoholic beverages.
The alcohol sold may only be that which is allowed by the particular license type and specifically excludes beer from being sold in nonmanufacturer-sealed containers.
Nonmanufacturer-sealed alcoholic beverages must be sold in conjunction with a bona fide meal. What does this mean?
A bona fide meal must conform to the guidance issued by the Department on July 5, 2020, entitled “What is required to be considered a ‘meal’?”.
Do I need to notify the Department of my intent to sell alcohol in nonmanufacturer-sealed containers?
Effective January 1, 2022, licensees must notify the Department of their intent to sell nonmanufacturer-sealed to-go alcoholic beverages. Licensees must use the Alcohol To-Go Notification Tool to submit their notice of intent prior to exercising the privilege. Licensees eligible to exercise the privilege of sales of nonmanufacturer-sealed alcoholic beverages to-go may begin sales immediately after submitting the online notification and posting the required warning sign.
What are the requirements for the posted sign needed to sell nonmanufacturer-sealed alcoholic beverages for off-site consumption?
The warning sign must be conspicuously posted on the premises, online, or wherever necessary to ensure the consumer ordering and purchasing the alcoholic beverages is given notice of open container laws. While there are no size or color specifications for the sign, it must be conspicuous, which means it must be readily observable by customers. It must contain the verbiage as follows:
“Alcoholic beverages that are packaged by this establishment are open containers and shall not be transported in a motor vehicle except in the vehicle’s trunk or, if there is no trunk, the containers shall be kept in some other area of the vehicle that is not normally occupied by the driver or passengers. This does not include a utility compartment or glove compartment (See Vehicle Code Section 23225). Additionally, these beverages shall not be consumed in public or in any other area where open containers are prohibited by law.”
NOTE: This language is slightly different from the language previously required by the Department’s regulatory relief. Licensees should replace any previous notices with this statutory language.
This warning sign can be downloaded or printed from the Department’s website.
Can the Department place conditions on an on-sale license that prohibits or restricts the sale of alcohol allowed by this bill?
Yes. With good cause, the Department may at any time impose conditions on a license restricting or prohibiting the licensee from selling or furnishing alcoholic beverages pursuant to this bill. Good cause includes, but is not limited to, a written request, that states the reason for the restriction or prohibition, from a local law enforcement agency or local governing body or its designated subordinate officer or agency. Licensees would be able to petition the Department to remove or modify the condition within 10 days following imposition of the condition. If a petition is not submitted within 10 days, then the licensee would need to wait one year, pursuant to existing law, before the licensee may file a petition for the removal or modification of the condition. When petitioning the Department for the removal or modification of the condition, the licensee has the burden of establishing that the condition is unreasonable or that no good cause exists for its imposition. The condition shall remain in place until a final determination is made.
Are on-sale licensees required to sell alcoholic beverages for off-site consumption?
No. This bill does not make selling alcohol for consumption off-site a requirement for any on-sale licensee.
For additional information,
contact your local ABC District Office.
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Bakersfield, CA 93309
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Concord, CA 94520
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Lodi, CA 95240
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Monrovia, CA 91016
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Palm Desert, CA 92211
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Redding, CA 96002
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Riverside, CA 92501
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Sacramento, CA 95834
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Salinas, CA 93907
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San Diego, CA 92123
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Santa Ana, CA 92707
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Santa Rosa, CA 95404
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Van Nuys, CA 91401
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