The Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (ABT) is the subset of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) responsible for regulating liquor manufacturing, distribution, and sales in Florida.
In this article, you will discover which businesses require a beverage license to operate in Florida.
Is Your Florida Business Required to Have a Beverage License? – The Basics
The ABT has four major categories of liquor licenses in Florida, which are sales permits, alcohol manufacturer licenses, alcohol distributor licenses, and special alcohol licenses.
Florida Statutes §562.12 (1) expressly provides that “it is unlawful for any person to sell alcoholic beverages without a license, and it is unlawful for any licensee to sell alcoholic beverages except as permitted by her or his license, or to sell such beverages in any manner except that permitted by her or his license.”
State law has strict regulations to guarantee anyone manufacturing, distributing, or selling alcoholic beverages within state jurisdiction complies with the applicable laws. Failing to meet these statutory requirements may result in:
- License revocation
- Closure of the business
Obtaining a Beverage License in Florida – Statutory Rules & Compliance
After receiving ABT’s approval for a liquor license, licensees must follow certain rules to maintain the authorization. Florida law explicitly requires that:
- Businesses selling liquor must display a proper vendor’s license “in conspicuous places on the licensed premises”
- The name of the licensed premises (business name) must match the designation on the vendor’s license
- The physical address of the licensed premises (business address) must match the location outlined in the vendor’s license
- All liquor bottles must be free of refilling and misrepresentation
- All liquor-related invoices must be kept by the licensee for a period of three years, being available for an inspector upon request
- The licensed premises must comply with the provisions outlined in the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act
If the licensee decides to change the name of the business premises, statutory rules require the applicant to provide 30 days’ notice to ABT. The notice must be in writing and accompanied by the applicable fee.
Florida Statutes § 562.13(3)(a) provides that “it is unlawful for any vendor licensed under the beverage law to employ as a manager or person in charge or as a bartender any person:
- Who has been convicted within the last past 5 years of any offense against the beverage laws of this state, the United States, or any other state
- Who has been convicted within the last past 5 years in this state or any other state or the United States of soliciting for prostitution, pandering, letting premises for prostitution, keeping a disorderly place, or any felony violation of chapter 893 or the controlled substances act of any other state or the Federal Government
- Who has, in the last past 5 years, been convicted of any felony in this state, any other state, or the United States”