How to Get an NC Liquor License: Meaning, Types, and Cost

NC Liquor License

Drinking is one of the pleasures of being an adult, and North Carolina is no stranger to a state that embraces alcohol. North Carolina gladly feeds its residents and guests responsibly, as evidenced by the abundance of excellent restaurants, breweries, and bars situated in Raleigh and other parts of the state.
Let’s say you want to start a company that distributes or serves alcohol. If so, you’ll have to obtain a license to sell alcohol. In this article, we’ll guide you on how to get an NC liquor license, including its meaning, types, cost, and requirements.

What is an NC Liquor License?

As the name suggests, a liquor license is a license to provide alcoholic beverages. Many people highly regard obtaining a liquor license as a rare and precious opportunity.

The US states independently establish their regulations for issuing liquor licenses. Generally, state-specific restrictions may exist, and certain towns may additionally have local laws of their own. Governments can enforce rules about alcohol service that would be challenging to police without a licensing mechanism. Many governments, for instance, put restrictions on the number of drinks that a business may serve a patron, do not offer discounts on alcohol, and mandate that partially used wine bottles stay in the restaurant or bar where they were served. If the government was in charge of monitoring these regulations exclusively, it would be challenging to keep up with them; nevertheless, it is possible to gain the assistance of bars and restaurants if they fear losing their liquor licenses.

How to get a liquor license in NC

The following steps outline the application process for a liquor license in NC, enabling you to swiftly and efficiently serve your favorite beverages to the public.

Requirements and Law

North Carolina (NC) offers a quicker and more seamless liquor license application process than other states. Application forms are downloadable from the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission—ABC Board—website at, with the necessary documentation.

The Alcohol Law Enforcement Division will assist the commission in vetting and investigating your proposed location once your ABC license application has been submitted to the North Carolina ABC Board. This will guarantee that all standards are being met. Among these prerequisites are the following:

  • Verifying that the area complies with fire and construction codes
  • Determining whether the location is 50 feet or less from the church or a school
  • Determining if the planned alcohol-serving facility would have a detrimental effect on the neighborhood
  • Verification of identity and background check

To grant you a liquor license in North Carolina, the ABC Commission will investigate your background and determine whether your criminal record or character traits suggest that you are a lawbreaker. The North Carolina ABC Commission will exclusively determine your application’s eligibility if it does not meet their requirements. When submitting any information, you should be truthful, open, and upfront.

Along with the $38 processing fee per person, each owner of the business requesting a liquor license must also submit their fingerprints in the form of fingerprint cards with their application for an ABC permit.

The Application Process

To correctly submit your liquor license to the NC ABC Commission, which ultimately gives local government opinion the last word on whether or not your application is accepted or rejected, you’ll need the following data and supporting documentation: Proof of alcohol seller/server training, an agreement to recycle rules and regulations, a copy of your lease or deed, your company’s formation documentation, signed inspection compliance and zoning forms, copies of your driver’s license or military ID, and proof of liquor liability insurance. Other license requirements consist of:

  • A business manager who sells alcohol must be at least 19 years old.
  • Businesses selling alcohol in North Carolina must have North Carolina citizens as owners.
  • Management cannot have a felony record from the previous three years if they oversee an alcohol-selling business.

To ensure the NC ABC Commission’s due diligence, you must submit a property description. The licensing costs required by the Commission will vary based on the type of liquor license you wish to obtain.

Types of NC Liquor Licenses

There are two primary categories of alcohol licenses in North Carolina, each linked to a distinct segment of the supply chain involved in the sale of alcoholic beverages:

Retail permits: If you sell alcohol in retail convenience stores, you must have retail permission.

Commercial permits: If you operate wineries or distilleries, import, distribute, manufacture, transport, or bottle alcoholic drinks, or engage in operations normally performed by wholesalers, you must obtain commercial permission.

The type of your particular alcohol-related business endeavors will determine if you need to apply for several permits or complete extra paperwork in addition to the NC liquor license requirements.

NC Liquor License Cost

The cost of an ABC liquor license in North Carolina can range from $100 to $1,000, depending on the kind of permit you require.

  • A $400 liquor license is necessary to sell beer or wine retail.
  • A $1,000 liquor license is necessary for any club, bar, restaurant, private club, or hotel that serves a range of alcoholic beverages.
  • A mixed-beverage catering firm must pay $200 for a license.
  • Depending on the size of the establishment, a liquor license in the $200–$400 range is necessary for restaurants that let patrons bring their own beverages.
  • A $100 wine license or wine permit is required to operate a wine shop or wine tasting room in North Carolina.

Every place that serves alcohol is unique, so make sure you know everything there is to know about your company and whether it needs several licenses to operate legally and successfully.

The requirement to obtain liquor liability insurance raises the cost of the NC liquor license.


How can I obtain a North Carolina liquor license?

To correctly submit your liquor license to the North Carolina ABC Commission, you will require the following information and paperwork. The final decision about whether to approve or deny your application rests with the local government.

In NC, how long does it take to obtain an ABC license?

In what amount of time will I receive my permit? After the application is submitted, it typically takes three to four weeks.

Does serving alcohol at a private gathering in North Carolina require a liquor license?

Requirements for legal permits from the North Carolina ABC Commission include wedding receptions and gatherings where alcohol is supplied.

In NC, how is alcohol sold?

The only places where alcohol and other spirits can be purchased are the state-run ABC Stores. Gas stations sell beer from seven in the morning until two in the morning.


The first step in starting a restaurant is to draft a business plan for the establishment. But soon after, you have to deal with licenses and permissions, which include applying for an NC liquor license and knowing its requirements. This procedure can take anything from 40 days to six months. Thus, start working on that section as soon as you can.

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