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California ABC Announces New License Authorizations

Looking for a California ABC retail license for a county in which none are available? You may be in luck! Every year, the California ABC issues a list of the counties in which new licenses – called “Priority” licenses—will be made available based on population growth in those counties. ABC Headquarters has just announced the authorization for the issuance of new on-sale general and off-sale general licenses for 2013 and new licenses are available in many California counties.

What is a Priority application?

California “General” retail licenses authorize the sale of beer, wine and distilled spirits. The number of General licenses that the ABC can issue in a county is restricted based on county population. If your county is already at its maximum, you can’t get a new General license from the ABC and instead must buy one from an existing licensee in your county, typically at a significant premium. However, in counties where growth has occurred, the ABC permits new General licenses within the county once per year during a ‘priority’ application period by allowing both new issuances of licenses in the county and intercounty transfers of licenses. An intercounty transfer means a business owner in the priority county can buy a General license on the open market anywhere in the state and transfer it in to the priority county. A person can apply for one of the priority General license spots in the county, or for one of the priority intercounty General license transfer spots, or for both.

Anyone that anticipates the need for an Off-Sale General Package Store License (Type 21), an On-Sale General Eating Place Restaurant License (Type 47), or a Special On-Sale General Club License (Type 57) within the next year in a county with licenses available should apply.

Licenses Available by County:

For a complete listing of licenses available by county, click http://www.abc.ca.gov/press/PR2013/PR13-23.pdf

2013 Filing Period:

ABC District Offices will accept in-person or mail-in priority applications from September 9-20, 2013. Mail-in applications must be postmarked September 20 or earlier in order to be accepted. If the Department receives more applications than licenses available (which it typically does), a public drawing is held. Applicants are typically notified two weeks later of their priority status. Once approved for priority, the applicant has 90 days to complete the full formal license application for the identified premises.


Priority application fees are $13,800 for new general licenses and $6,000 for intercounty transfers. Only a certified check, cashier’s check or money order will be accepted, and it must be submitted with the priority application. Unsuccessful applicants’ fees will be refunded, less a $100 service charge, within 45 days of the drawing.

Residency requirements:

Every applicant must be a resident of California for at least 90 days prior to the drawing. The 90 day clock starts ticking upon registration with the California Secretary of State for corporations, limited partnerships, and limited liability companies. Individuals and partners must submit proof of California residency.

If you are interested in applying for a new on or off-sale general priority license, please feel free to contact the attorneys at Strike Kerr & Johns.

Alcohol.law Digest is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2013 · All Rights Reserved ·


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