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New York State Liquor License Lawyer Guest Q&A: Can You Sell or Transfer a Liquor License?

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for above-the-bar-logo.jpgWe are pleased to continue our guest blog series on questions about the New York State liquor license. Our Westchester County and New York Lawyers have helped many applicants ranging from restaurants to liquor stores resolve various issues related to their liquor licenses as well as obtain their liquor license in an expedited manner.

FAQ: I am planning to purchase a restaurant which has a current, valid on premises liquor license. In the contract of sale, can I also purchase the liquor license and have it transferred to my name?

In New York State, you cannot purchase a liquor license belonging to someone else or transfer a liquor license from a person or business. The New York State Liquor Authority (“SLA”) does not allow the “transfer” of a liquor license from one licensee to another. Unfortunately, there is no easy way around the application process. Although you can download an application from the SLA’s website and fill it out yourself, it is a long, complicated application requiring many documents. Our experiences attorneys have helped many businesses a retail liquor license in an expedited manner.

If you are purchasing a business, under certain circumstances, you can apply for a Temporary Retail Permit while waiting for your retail application to be approved. If you live in the City of New York, including the boroughs of Kings, Queens, Bronx, New York, and Staten Island, you may only apply for a Temporary Retail permit if you are purchasing a business which is currently licensed by the SLA. In other words, you can only get a Temporary Retail Permit if you are buying a restaurant which already has a liquor license. The permit will allow you to operate the business without having to wait months for your retail license to be approved.

In order to apply for the temporary permit, the establishment must have been open and operating for at least 30 days prior to your filing the application. You must file the Temporary Retail Permit Application together with your Retail License Application. Once your Temporary Retail Permit is approved, you can engage in the same type of traffic of alcoholic beverages that was permitted under the license which your permit is replacing. For example, if your permit is replacing a license which permits the on premises consumption of beer, you cannot start serving wine. You can only serve beer to consume on the premises.

If you are planning to purchase an establishment outside the City of New York, you can apply for a Temporary Retail Permit even if the premises did not have a liquor license. However, you may not apply for a Temporary Retail Permit for a wine or liquor store and you must still comply with the 200′ and 500′ Rules. For example, if you are opening up a new restaurant or purchasing an existing restaurant in Westchester that doesn’t have a liquor license, you can apply for a temporary retail permit at the same time as you apply for your retail license. However, you must still comply with the 200′ and 500′ Rules.
Temporary retail permits are granted at the SLA’s discretion. Once approved, your permit will be valid for 90 days and can be renewed for an additional 30 days. Keep in mind that you must file for a renewal of the temporary retail permit before your existing permit expires.

Missing or inaccurate information in your Retail License Application can cause significant delay or rejection costing you thousands of dollars. Call our New York Liquor License Attorneys at Villanueva & Sanchala at (800) 893-9645 to help you get your liquor license approved without delay so that you can focus on getting your business open.


Thank you for visiting our Blog. This blog provides general information and thoughts about various employment law issues primarily in the New York Tri-State area and occasionally in other areas. You are welcome to read the posts. However, do not construe any content on this blog as legal advice or the creation of an attorney-client relationship. Again, we provide the content only for informational purposes. You should not make decisions based information on our blog since the application of the law depends on the facts and each situation may be different. In addition, the law in most jurisdictions is different and changes constantly and we make no representations that any information on our blog has been updated. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from an experienced employment law attorney in your state or jurisdiction.

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