Frequently Asked Questions

 

These are ABC's most frequently asked questions about:
LICENSE TRANSFERS

Q. 24. Can a license be transferred from one person to another person without making an application to ABC?

A. No. An application signed by both the present licensee and the transferee must be filed with ABC. ABC then proceeds as it would on a new application and may deny the transfer if the transferee-applicant is not qualified for a license. If such transfer also involves a change of the premises, ABC's approval of the new premises is required. (Sections 24070 and 24073)

Q. 25. Does the filing of the application for transfer accomplish the transfer of the license?

A. No. Neither the transferor nor the transferee should assume that the license will be transferred on a particular date, or at all, merely because the application has been filed. ABC may deny the application, or protests or accusations may be filed which may result in delay or denial of the transfer.
ABC is not required to investigate the personal qualifications or premises of a currently licensed person when a license is being transferred between partners and no new partner is being licensed. (Sections 23958, 23958.2, 24013 and 24070)

Q. 26. How long does it normally take for the issuance or transfer of a license?

A. Most investigations take approximately 55-65 days, and by law the license cannot be issued for a minimum of 30 days. Circumstances often result in a longer waiting period; therefore, before final approval and issuance of a license, applicants are cautioned regarding extensive financial commitments, plans for grand openings, etc.
If new construction or considerable remodeling is necessary, the applicant should seek prior approval under Section 24044 before beginning any actual work.

Q. 27. Pending transfer of the license, may the intended transferee operate the licensed business?

A. The transferee may operate the licensed premises during the transfer period if a 120-day permit has been obtained. To qualify for this temporary permit, the premises must be currently licensed and have been operating within the past 30 days prior to application.

Q. 28. When the lease on the licensed premises is terminated and the premises must be vacated, what is required of the licensee?

A. A licensee must surrender his/her license to ABC within 15 days. During the maximum one year surrender period the licensee may transfer the license to other locations or transfer the license to other persons. All renewal fees must be paid during the surrender period. (Sections 23053.5, 23320, 24072, 24072.1, Rules 60 and 65)

Q. 29. What steps are required for the issuance or transfer of an alcoholic beverage license?

A. A person who wants to apply for an ABC license must start with the nearest ABC District Office. An ABC staff member will ask the applicant questions about the proposed operation and determine the type of license needed. The staff member will then advise the applicant what forms and fees are needed to file the application. Some applicants, before filing an application with ABC, must first obtain approval from zoning officials, open an escrow, or go to the office of the County Recorder for a certified copy of a Notice of Intended Transfer.
Generally, all parties must appear at the District Office. This is not generally a "mail-in" process because ABC requires personal information such as personal history affidavits. Fees are paid at this time. The applicant also views a video about ABC laws. A temporary permit may be issued under certain conditions.

Q. 30. Does ABC notify local officials of the license application?

A. Yes. ABC mails a copy of the application to local officials as required by law. If the premises is in the city, a copy goes to the police department, city council and city planning department. If the premises is in the county, a copy goes to the sheriff's department, board of supervisors and district attorney. If local officials have concerns about the issuance of a license, they may request or impose restrictions on the business operation, or they may file a protest. (Section 23987)
Common concerns are that the license: (a) Would create a public nuisance, (b) Would cause or add to crime in the area, (c) Would be contrary to a zoning law, or (d) Is in a high-crime area or an area that has too many licenses and would not serve public convenience or necessity. In the case of (d), the City Council or Board of Supervisors has 90 days to determine this and notify ABC. If the City Council or Board of Supervisors does not decide within 90 days, ABC may issue the license if the applicant shows ABC that issuance would serve public convenience or necessity.

Q. 31. Does ABC conduct an investigation of license applications?

A. Yes. ABC conducts a thorough investigation, as required by law, to see if the applicant and the premises qualify for a license. (Section 23958)

Q. 32. What are the responsibilities of a license applicant?

A. It is the applicant's responsibility to: (a) Post the Public Notice of Application at the premises for 30 days, and (b) Give information to ABC as needed for the investigation. In some cases, ABC may also require the applicant to: (a) Publish a notice in the newspaper, (b) Mail a notice to all persons living within a 500' radius of the premises, and/or (c) Obtain proof from the local planning department that the zoning permits an ABC license. Sections 23985, 23958, 23986, 23985.5 and 23790)

Q. 33. In case of death or incompetency to act as a sole licensee, who may exercise the privileges of the license?

A. The privileges of the license may be exercised by any person acting on behalf of the deceased or incompetent licensee or the estate for a specified period or until an administrator, executor, etc., is appointed. (Section 23102)

Q. 34. Does the law prohibit pledging the transfer of a license as security for a loan or as security for the fulfillment of any agreement?

A. Yes. The law prohibits a licensee from pledging the license as security for a loan or as security for the fulfillment of any agreement. In their transfer application both transferor and transferee must state under oath that the transfer is not being made (a) to satisfy the payment of a loan or to fulfill an agreement entered into more than 90 days before the transfer application is filed, (b) to gain or establish a preference to or for any creditor of the transferor, except as permitted by 3ection 24074, (c) to defraud or injure any creditor of the transferor. (Section 24076)

Q. 35. How long can the licensed premises be closed before the licensee must surrender possession of the license?

A. When licensed premises are closed, or the exercise of the privileges of the license is discontinued for any reason for a period of 15 consecutive days, the license must be surrendered to ABC. The license may be reactivated upon request of the licensee made at least 10 days in advance. (Rule 65)

Q. 36. May an applicant have some assurance of the issuance of a license before construction of the premises to be licensed is begun or completed?

A. ABC may approve an application for premises under construction. A retail license may be transferred or issued by ABC to premises which are under construction and the transferor has closed his business or surrendered his license. No alcoholic beverages shall be sold until the premises are completed. Actual delivery of the license is withheld until ABC is satisfied that all conditions set forth in the law and rules are met. (Section 24044 and Rule 64)

Q. 37. Must a corporation licensed by ABC report ownership changes to ABC?

A. Yes. If any transfer of stock results in any person owning 10% or more of the corporate stock, such fact must be reported in writing by the corporation to ABC within 30 days. The same reporting requirement is necessary when there is a change in the officers or directors of the corporation. (Section 23405 and Rule 68.5)
When 50% or more of the corporation's stock is to be transferred, a transfer of the corporation's license is now required. The fee for such license transfer shall be 50% of the original fee but not less than $100 nor more than $800. Compliance must be made with all laws and rules applicable to license transfer. (Section 24071.1)

Q. 38. Must a limited partnership licensed by ABC report ownership changes to ABC?

A. Yes. It must report to ABC in writing, either of the following: (a) The assignment or transfer of ownership resulting in a person owning as a limited partner 10 percent or more of the capital or profits of the limited partnership; or (b) Any change in the general partners of the limited partnership. The report must be filed with ABC within 30 days after the assignment or transfer of the limited partnership interest.
When there is a new general partner or when the ownership of 50 percent or more of the capital or profits of a limited partnership is to be transferred, a transfer of the limited partnership's license is now required. The fee for such license transfer shall be 50 percent of the original fee for the license, minimum $100 and maximum $800. The transfer must comply with all applicable laws and rules. (Sections 23405.1 and 24071.1)

Q. 39. Must a limited liability company licensed by ABC report ownership changes to ABC?

A. Yes. It must report to ABC, in writing, any of the following:
(1) Issuance or transfer of memberships to any person where the issuance or transfer results in the person owning 10 percent or more of the voting interests of the company; (2) Any change in the manager or managers of the company, if the limited liability company is managed by a manager or managers; or (3) Any change in the officers of the company, if any officer has been appointed. The report shall be filed with ABC within 30 days after the issuance or transfer of membership voting interests, or any change in members, managers, or officers.
When the ownership of 50 percent or more of the membership interests in a limited liability company is to be transferred, a transfer of the limited liability company's license is now required. The fee for such license transfer shall be 50 percent of the original fee for the license, minimum $100 and maximum $800. The transfer must comply with all applicable laws and rules. (Sections 23405.2 and 24071.2)