Liquor License Acquisition and Renewal in DE

DE Liquor License LawsDelaware does not operate under the quota system for liquor license acquisition, and its liquor laws are getting a bit more progressive.

To apply for a liquor license in DE, you will need to submit a letter of intent including the location of the establishment, or if it’s a transfer, you must provide a letter of consent from the current liquor licensee. Once the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) receives either of those letters, the process begins, and the ABC will send an intent packet to you with the forms needed to apply, according to the Office of Alcoholic Beverage Control Commissioner’s FAQs.

Costs of the Liquor License Process in DE

The processing fee is $1,000.00 and is non-refundable. In addition, all licensees are required to have an up-to-date copy of the Liquor Control Act (Title 4) and the ABC Commissioner’s Rules on their premises. Book purchases are $30.00.

In Delaware, liquor licenses are valid for two years, but unlike Pennsylvania’s liquor license renewal process, there is no opposite year validation process and accompanying fee. The fee for the license renewal is the same as the original processing fee.

The $1,000.00 fee is typical for a license to sell alcohol in most settings, including restaurants, hotels, taprooms, etc. However, there are varying fees for private clubs ($300.00 or $600.00 depending on club membership totals) or for sales at racetracks, both horse racing and motor speedways ($3,000.00). The $3,000.00 fee also applies for alcohol sales at multi-purpose sports facilities. For the complete list of fees, see State of Delaware Fees.

Recent Changes in Delaware’s Liquor Laws

Although obtaining a liquor license in DE is easier and less costly compared to some of its other Mid-Atlantic neighbors, the state has only recently eased some restrictions regarding laws pertaining to liquor sales.

Sunday off-premises sales are now allowed, subject to local ordinances. Not long ago, despite local opposition, Milton town leaders approved expansion of the Dogfish Head Brewery (Delaware Public Media’sChanges to Delaware liquor laws give some reason to raise a glass”). In that article, Councilwoman Marion Jones is quoted saying, “Milton has to consider the economic changes that have happened all around them. Either change with them or get left behind.”

In the name of economic development, there was been a push to create special liquor licenses for concert halls, like the Queen Theater in Wilmington. The legislation passed and the fee for concert hall liquor licenses is $1,500.00.

Current proposed legislation “would allow for the sale and consumption of beer, wine and liquor in theaters with 500 or more seats, open at least five days a week and that show 250 movies a year,” according to DelawareOnline’sBooze at the movies?” If this legislation passes, Delaware would become one of at least 30 other states that allow the sale of alcohol in theaters.

While the acquisition and renewal of liquor licenses in DE are more straightforward than many other states, there is still no shortage of regulations to which you must adhere in order to keep your license in good standing and continue to operate your establishment. Like keeping your books and filing your taxes, it pays to have a professional on your team to provide guidance.