How to Obtain Your Liquor License in Florida: The Essential Guide

If you’re considering adding liquor to your restaurant’s menu, you’ll need a liquor license. Regardless of the reason, obtaining a liquor license for your restaurant can dramatically increase its profits.

Before your restaurant’s bar is set up, you’ll need a liquor license, and liquor license laws vary by state.

There are several Florida liquor license types available, each with a different requirement. This can make the application process pretty complicated (not to mention quite costly).

Here is your essential guide to getting a liquor license in the Sunshine State.


Types of liquor licenses available

Whether it’s liquor, beer, or wine, in order to sell alcohol in Florida, you will first need to apply for a license from Florida’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco Bureau of Licensing. Liquor license requirements are determined by the license type in question.

There are four main types of liquor licenses available in the state of Florida. Each alcohol license type will be explained in detail.

1. COP License

The Consumption-on-Premise (COP) license permits the sale and consumption of alcohol dependent on the type of alcoholic beverage and by package.

  • A 1COP license permits its license holder the ability to sell beer only.
  • If you’re a small restaurant, such as a sandwich shop, and you’re looking to sell beer and wine for on-premise consumption, you may want to consider the 2COP liquor license. The 2COP license allows you to sell beer and wine for consumption on premise.

This type of liquor license allows small restaurants to sell beer and wine in sealed containers. Under this license type, only packaged sales of beer and wine are permitted. The sale of spirits under the 2COP license type is strictly prohibited.

Fees for this license type will vary according to the county. Fees are determined by county populace. For Florida counties with a population of over 100,000, such as Miami-Dade County, a 1COP license will cost $280, while a 2COP license will amount to $392.

Both fees are based on a yearly license fee.

2. APS License

Similar to the COP license, an APS license is one that permits a package sale (APS) consumption. This license type allows for off-premise consumption. This type of license is ideal for facilities like convenience stores, gas stations, or supermarkets looking to sell beer and wine for off-premise consumption.

Like the COP license, the APS license type can be established by whether your facilities wish to sell beer or beer and wine package sales. A 1APS license will refer to a Beer Package Sales license, while a 2APS license considers both beer and wine.

Likewise, an establishment that holds a 2APS license is prohibited from selling spirits for off-premise consumption.

Typically, a yearly license fee for this type of license in a country with a population of over 100,000 is $196, while it is $140 for a 1APS license.

3. SRX License

Special Restaurant licenses, or SRX licenses, allow the consumption of beer, wine, and liquor on premise. Certain requirements must be met to qualify for an SRX license.

Firstly, the establishment must be a bona fide full-service restaurant. A percentage of your restaurant’s revenues (51%) must be derived from food and non-alcoholic drinks to qualify. Most counties will also require restaurants to consist of 2,500 square feet of floor space.

Seating and equipment must serve between 150 up to 250 patrons at tables and service of full course meals must be available when alcoholic beverages are served. Packaged sales of alcoholic beverages are prohibited under the SRX license.

Yearly license fees for SRX license types in a county with a population over 100,000 is $1,820. If your establishment fails to meet these requirements, you’ll need a regular quota license.

4. Quota License

Establishments looking for a full-service alcohol license should consider applying for a quota license. Quota licenses are limited in number. Each county issues a specific number of quota license per year.

This particular liquor license is only offered once a year through a lottery.

The number of liquor licenses issued by country is determined by population. As the county’s population increases, for every 7,500 people in the county, another quota license may be issued.

There are two ways an establishment could obtain a quota license. The first is by entering the Quota License Lottery Drawing to win the right to apply for a license. The other is to purchase an existing quota license from someone looking to sell their license.

Fees for quota licenses are determined by how it’s been obtained.

A new quota license will cost the annual fees plus a one-time Hughes Act fee of $10,750. The revenues from the Hughes Act fee covers alcohol and drug abuse education, treatment, and prevention programs. Fees for purchasing an existing quota license is determined by the seller.

Other considerations to make

No matter the liquor license your establishment applies for, getting a liquor license requires the submission of certain documents. Each liquor license application must be accompanied by a complete liquor license application form. A zoning approval document must also be included with your license application.

These application forms can be found on the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation website.

Richard Bantock is the President of Liquor License Consultants, Inc. (formerly known as The Liquor License Guy) which specializes in the purchasing and selling of Florida liquor licenses. For 20 years, he successfully operated liquor store, nightclub, bar and restaurant companies, gaining first-hand knowledge of business planning, financial negotiations and the liquor licensing process. Liquor License Consultants, Inc. reflects his insight and expertise.


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1 thought on “How to Obtain Your Liquor License in Florida: The Essential Guide”

  1. One of my relatives is thinking about starting a restaurant or bar. It seems like a COP license would be the best one, as they haven’t become an established restaurant. Thanks for sharing this great information on the different types of liquor licenses and their uses.


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