Frequently Asked Questions
These are ABC's most frequently asked questions about:
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
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
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
Q. 30. Does ABC notify local officials of the
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
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
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
Q. 34. Does the law prohibit pledging the transfer
of a license as security for a loan or as security for the fulfillment of
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.
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,
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)