With the rise of several mobile apps that allow consumers to order alcoholic beverages for home delivery, many wine, beer, and liquor stores are anxious to get in on the action. Home delivery of alcohol sits in the gray area of the law in many states, where the law simply doesn't address it. Other states have passed laws specifically allowing it provided the seller already has a retail license to sell alcoholic beverages to consumers in that state. Typically you won't need a separate license to start a liquor delivery service, but you do need a regular retail license. You also must follow whatever regulations your state licensing board has put into place for home delivery of alcoholic beverages to consumers.
Part One of Three:
Getting a Retail LicenseEdit
1Contact your state licensing board. States that allow delivery of alcoholic beverages to private homes regulate delivery licenses through the same licensing board that regulates the sale of alcohol generally.
- You first need to find out if the state licensing board allows home delivery in your state. Some states have passed laws specifically allowing it.
- In other states, home delivery is neither forbidden by law or explicitly permitted by law. Where your state's law doesn't address home delivery, licensing boards have different approaches.
- In many such states, home delivery is permitted under the same regulations as retail sales are permitted. This means customers must pay for the alcohol on site and have it delivered at a later time.
2Choose your license type. In most states that have passed laws that deal specifically with liquor delivery services, you must have a retail license to sell alcoholic beverages to consumers for consumption elsewhere. If you don't already have a retail license, you'll have to get one before you can start a liquor delivery service.
- Determine whether you intend to deliver spirits, beer, wine, or all of the above. Some states require different retail licenses for the sale of different types of alcoholic beverages.
- Many states require separate licenses for selling spirits, and these licenses may be allocated.
- This means that although typically you can get a license to sell beer and wine provided you meet the basic license requirements, there may be a lottery for a set number of licenses to sell spirits.
- If you have questions about which type of license you need, you can ask someone who works at the state licensing board, or review the information on the board's website.
3Complete your application. Each state has an application form that you must complete to get a retail license to sell alcoholic beverages. You will have to provide information about yourself and any other business owners, as well as your business and its location.
- The application form itself will require you to provide information about your business, yourself, and any other owners of the business.
- You'll have to identify the location of your business, and may have to get certification that you don't violate any zoning or other local ordinances governing the location of retail establishments that sell alcoholic beverages.
- In many states all owners of the business must get fingerprinted and pass a criminal background check before a license will be issued.
- In addition to the application form, there typically are a number of other documents you must provide to get a new retail license to sell alcoholic beverages. The state licensing board should have a checklist you can follow to make sure you've gathered all required documents.
- Typically other documents you must submit are related to the owners of your business, including copies of identification, fingerprint cards, or background check information.
- Double-check everything on your application before you get ready to submit it. Errors or missing information could result in your application being delayed or rejected.
4Submit your application. Some states may require you to sign your completed application in the presence of a notary public. Make copies of your signed application and all other required documents before submitting them to your state licensing board so you have copies for your records.
- You must pay a fee to apply for a retail license to sell alcoholic beverages. This fee varies widely among states, but typically is at least $100.
- Some states allow you to fill out and submit your applications online, paying your licensing fees with a credit or debit card.
- If you have to submit a paper application, you may want to take it into the local licensing office yourself or pay extra for a tracking option when you mail it, so you can verify it got to the right place.
5Receive your license. Once your application is processed, you should receive your official license within a few weeks provided you meet all the requirements of your state. Once you get your license, you can sell alcoholic beverages as well as deliver them to customers – provided home delivery is allowed in your state.
- Expect it to take several weeks, if not a couple of months, for your application to be processed once it is received by the licensing board.
Part Two of Three:
Fulfilling Customer OrdersEdit
1Make payment arrangements. In many states that allow home delivery of alcoholic beverages, the customer must make payment in full at your location in advance of the delivery, rather than paying the delivery person when their order is delivered.
- In some states, the customer must come to the store in person and purchase the alcoholic beverages they want delivered in a face-to-face transaction.
- Other states allow customer orders over the internet or by telephone, as long as they are processed in-store just as a normal in-person transaction would be.
- Typically alcoholic beverages must be purchased in advance – the customer cannot pay the delivery driver on receipt of the delivery, using any method of payment.
- Check with your state licensing board to make sure you've set up appropriate methods of payment and identification of the customer that comply with your state's regulations. These rules differ significantly from state to state in regard to home delivery of alcoholic beverages.
2Set times for delivery. Typically, you can deliver orders to customers during the normal retail hours of your business. However, the days of the week and times you are permitted to deliver alcoholic beverages to customers may be further restricted by your state's law.
- For example, some states do not allow the delivery of alcoholic beverages after dark, even if your physical store can remain open late into the evening.
- In states where customers are required to make their purchase in person for later delivery, you may be allowed to deliver even on days such as Sunday when you can't open your store.
- In addition to state regulations, choosing your delivery times also is a matter of personal preferences.
- Set times that suit the needs of your business while also taking into consideration the safety of your employees who will be making the deliveries.
3Hire appropriate drivers. Most states require that those who deliver alcoholic beverages for you be over the age of 21. They also may have to meet other state requirements relative to licensing retail sales clerks.
- In addition, your delivery drivers must have driver's licenses that are in good standing. Your state may require them to have a driver's license from the state where your store is located rather than an out-of-state license.
- Typically, if someone is legally permitted to work in your store, they also are permitted to make deliveries. Any registration or license required for retail employees of liquor stores also is required for employees who deliver alcoholic beverages.
4Stay within state amount limits. Many states that allow home delivery of alcoholic beverages place restrictions either on the size of the individual orders or on the percentage of your business that is made up by your home-delivery service.
- Home delivery of alcoholic beverages is limited to products for personal consumption, not for resale.
- Some states limit the amount that can be purchased at once by an individual consumer for that reason – essentially, the law assumes that if someone is purchasing several cases of liquor, they intend to sell some of it.
- The amount of alcoholic beverages you are permitted to deliver to customer's homes may depend on the type of establishment you have.
- For example, bars in Arizona also may deliver alcoholic beverages to private residences within the state, but those sales cannot exceed 30 percent of their total sales. Liquor stores, however, do not have this restriction.
Part Three of Three:
Keeping Sufficient RecordsEdit
1Maintain adequate vehicle registration and insurance. Any vehicles that are used by your business to deliver alcoholic beverages to customers' homes must follow your state's regulations for business vehicles.
- Your drivers should have the appropriate registration, licensing, and insurance documents in their vehicles at all times when they are delivering alcoholic beverages for your business.
- Check with your state's licensing board regarding ownership of vehicles used to deliver alcohol. Some states must require drivers to use vehicles owned by the business rather than their personal vehicles.
- If your drivers are allowed to use their personal vehicles, find out if there are additional insurance requirements for people using their personal vehicles for business purposes, and make sure your drivers are aware of those requirements.
- For vehicles owned by your business, keep the required registration and insurance documents inside the car, and make sure all employees who drive the vehicle are listed on your insurance.
- Keep copies of vehicle registration and insurance documents with your business records.
2Search for official forms. In many states, the alcohol control board that regulates the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages provides forms that can be used to legally record all delivery transactions.
- If a form is available for you to use and record all required information, it may be a good idea to use it even if the regulations allow you to record your sales another way.
- By using the official form, you can be certain that you have all the information required. Since inspectors will be familiar with the form, they'll be able to easily read your records.
- If you have your own record-keeping system, for example if you keep all of your records as electronic files on a computer, you may want to design a form to incorporate into that system that mimics the format on the state's form.
3Record every delivery transaction. Even if a specific form is not required, most states do require you to keep detailed records of every delivery transaction, including the name and address of the customer.
- The records you keep for home deliveries may require additional information that isn't necessary for regular in-store transactions.
- Typically you must record the name and identification information for the customer, as well as the address to which the alcoholic beverages were delivered.
- You also may need to include both the date and time of purchase and the date and time of delivery.
- Details of the specific transaction, including the number of bottles sold and the volume of those bottles, is necessary so state inspectors can ensure you're complying with state regulations that limit the quantity of alcoholic beverages sold or delivered to individual consumers.
- Records must be kept for the period of time specified by your state's law, typically at least two or three years from the transaction date.
- Keep in mind that state inspectors typically have the right to inspect your premises and records at any time, and may come unannounced.
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- As a licensee, it is your responsibility to make sure both the person purchasing the alcohol and the person receiving the delivery are over the age of 21.
- When delivering alcoholic beverages, you also must follow all other laws related to the consumption of alcohol. This means that, for example, you cannot deliver to customers at a public park where alcohol is not allowed.