How to Get a Liquor License in Ohio – The Basics

Are you looking to transfer a liquor license in Ohio? Here is some information you need to know. Many times businesses which are for sale hold liquor permit privileges which can be transferred to another business. Businesses for sale that include liquor permit privileges are often advertised in local newspapers and industry trade publications.

But remember, a permit alone cannot be purchased. The transaction must include other assets such as stock and inventory, tables and chairs, or other equipment.

Types of Liquor License Transfers in Ohio

  1. Transfer of ownership at the same location;

  2. Transfer of location of an existing business;

  3. Transfer of ownership and location;

  4. Transfer of ownership and location out of safekeeping;

  5. Transfer of shares of stock in a corporation;

  6. Transfer of membership interest in a limited liability company (LLC)

Who Can Get a Liquor License in Ohio?

The simple answer is – not everyone. If you’re wondering how to go about obtaining a liquor license in Ohio, the best place to start is with the basics. In Ohio, alcohol licenses are limited bases on the population in the area in which you own or operate a business that serves Alcohol. Many times, additional new licenses are not available. Since licenses must be renewed on an annual basis, there is always a chance to capitalize on new license opportunities if you know what to watch for.

Before applying for a license, its critical to prove that you – and any potential partners – are American citizens. Many crimes – but not all – can preclude you from obtaining a liquor license in Ohio. It’s important to confer with a lawyer about your particular criminal charges to determine the impact in an application. After applying for the transfer, your building will need to undergo an inspection to certify that the facilities are up to code.

Types of Liquor Permits in Ohio

Ohio law provides for several licenses – or permits as they are referred to in Ohio – each with different rules and permissions. The first step in setting up your bar or restaurant is to ensure that the County you are considering is one that permits the sale of alcohol – in other words it is not a dry county. The next step is to determine what type of license is best for you. A brief summary of the main classes of D permits is as follows:

  • D1 – The D1 permit allows restaurant or nightclub to only sell beer. This permit also regulates where your customers are allowed to consume the beer: either on the premises or they’re allowed to buy beer for the purpose of taking it home. To sell beer meant for carry out, you must ensure that it’s sealed in its original container, such as an unopened beer bottle. Currently, Ohio allows D1 permit holders to sell beer for carry out until 1 am.

  • D2 – This permit allows restaurants and nightclubs to sell wine and mixed beverages. Like the D1 permit, D2 limits the consumption on-site or for carry out. Also, like D1, the beverages must be sealed in their original containers.

  • D3 – D3 permit holders must own either a restaurant or a nightclub. This permit allows for the sale of “spirituous liquor” only for on-site consumption and only until 1 am. “Spirituous liquor” is a tricky term. It basically refers to any alcohol that’s inflammable and distilled. Under this definition, wine doesn’t qualify as “spirituous liquor.

  • D4 – This permit is designated for clubs only. It allows for the sale of beer or other hard liquors, anything capable of producing intoxicating effects. Only members of the club are allowed to purchase alcohol under this permit and they must consume it on-site until 1 am.

  • D6 – The D6 permit allows for the sale of liquor on Sundays. Permit holders can only sell liquor between the hours of 10 am—or 11 am, depending on the county—and midnight. To sell liquor in the state of Ohio on Sunday, you must possess a permit.

How Do I Transfer a Liquor License?

There are 10 main steps in the Liquor License transfer process in Ohio. These steps are:

  1. Notification is sent to the legislative authority and police department of the political subdivision for which the application is filed. Legislative authorities include the city council of an incorporated city or the township trustees and county commissioners of an unincorporated area.

  2. Notification of any transfer of ownership is sent to the Ohio Department of Taxation. No transfers are approved until the Department of Taxation notifies the Division of Liquor Control that all taxes are current.

  3. Notification of any transfer which involves a change of location from the original permit premises is sent to the county Board of Elections which in turn, notifies the Division of the wet or dry status of the area. If the new location is dry, the applicant is notified and processing ceases. If the area is wet, processing continues.

  4. A physical inspection of the premises, or proposed premises, and the surrounding area is conducted by a Division compliance officer to determine if there are any institutions such as schools, churches, playgrounds, libraries or township parks within a 500 foot radius.

  5. Authorities in control of institutions within a 500 foot radius are notified that an application for a liquor permit has been filed.

  6. Local legislative authorities and institutions within a 500 foot radius are given the opportunity to file objections to the issuance of the permit and request a hearing.

  7. If an objection is filed and a hearing requested, the Division of Liquor Control notifies the permit applicant by certified mail as to the date, time and place of the hearing.

  8. Police records of all transfer applicants, including any five percent or more stockholder of a corporation, are checked.

  9. Upon completion of processing, the applicant is notified to return the old permit and identification card to the division. The new permit is then mailed to the new location or new owner.

  10. Before a transfer can be approved, all outstanding administrative and legal issues must be resolved.

Looking for a liquor license in Ohio? Call today!

If you’re thinking about applying for a liquor license in Ohio, it’s smart to call the family of lawyers at Sawan & Sawan today. We are here to help. Contact us today at 419-900-0955 to schedule a free initial consultation.


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Sawan & Sawan is a liquor license law firm with liquor license attorneys licensed to practice law in the State of Ohio. Theliquor license lawyers at Sawan & Sawan serve the following cities in Lucas County, Ohio: Maumee, Ohio; Oregon, Ohio; Sylvania, Ohio; Toledo, Ohio; Waterville, Ohio.

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