Every state in the USA requires some degree of licensing to sell alcohol. Utah is one of 17 “Control” states, which means there’s a bit more time, money, and regulation involved than in states with less oversight. You can obtain liquor licenses directly from the state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services, you can buy an existing one with an already-established business, or you can purchase a license from an establishment that’s closing and start fresh.

While state licensing is the same for everyone, each city, town, and unincorporated area of Utah handles local liquor licensing differently. You may have to go before a city council, or you may find that the type of license you want to operate – usually a bar – has limited numbers available.

Allow at least two months before your projected opening date to obtain all the documents and attend all the meetings you’ll need to get a basic restaurant liquor license; longer if you’re opening a bar and need to wait on the state to award you one, and longer than that if you’re manufacturing, because then you have to also apply for federal approval!

Tanner Lenart works with all levels of government to help your liquor licensing process proceed as smoothly as possible.

Top five FAQs or Did You Knows for Sale of a Business and Liquor Licensing

  1. All businesses that make or sell alcohol must conduct a sale of the business through the state of Utah.
  2. You may buy or sell a Utah liquor license from the state or from an existing business.
  3. Bar licenses are the most popular licenses to sell and buy in Utah because their availability is limited by a population cap.
  4. Failure to have a management agreement in place during a transfer of a license can result in losing the license and putting the sale of the business at risk.
  5. Bar licenses are the only ones you can currently transfer in a sale from one county to move to another county.