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Difference Between Liquor Licenses and Alcohol Service Permits

Liquor Licenses

A liquor license is required for a person, company or business that wants to sell, manufacture, import, or distribute alcohol. 
Liquor licenses fall into two categories:

  1. Annual: This license is for a person, company or business that will sell, manufacture, import or distribute on an ongoing basis. (Apply for a Liquor License)
  2. Temporary/Special Event: This license is for a person, company, or business that will be selling and serving alcohol at a special event. (Temporary/Special Event Licenses)

Here are some common examples in which a liquor license is required:

  • Restaurants wanting to sell/serve beer, wine, cider or hard alcohol;
  • Grocery stores, convenience stores, or boutique shops wanting to sell beer, wine or cider;
  • Special events where alcohol will be sold;
  • Special events where alcohol is not being sold, but you are charging or accepting donations for admission, or where payment is required to attend the event;
  • Raffles in which alcohol will be a prize;
  • Auctions of alcohol (Nonprofits may sell beer, wine or cider at auction once in a 12-month period without a liquor license. The nonprofit must contact the OLCC for written approval).

You will NOT need a liquor license if:

  • You are making alcohol available but there is no payment or purchase required, no donations of money are accepted for alcohol or for entry/admission, or for any other product or service.

For example, a license is not required for a wedding reception or retirement party where are serving alcohol, but not accepting payment or donations for it.

  • You are hosting an event where alcohol will be served/sold, but you are using a caterer or outside vendor to provide those services. The caterer or outside vendor would need a liquor license.

Alcohol Service Permits

A service permit is for:
  • A server (waitstaff, bartender, manager, etc,) working at a business that allows customers to drink alcohol on the premises (like a restaurant, bar, tavern, winery, temporary special event license, etc.) to mix, sell, or serve alcohol.
  • A manager who directly supervises servers who mix, serve, or sell alcohol to customers for drinking on the premises.
  • An owner who mixes, serves, or sells alcohol or manages servers at that business and whose name is notindividually listed on the liquor license. 
Get a Service Permit 
You will not need a service permit if:
  • You do not mix, serve, or sell alcohol in any manner for drinking on the premises or supervise those who do.  For example, if you set up and clear tables, work in the kitchen, deliver food to a customer, check ID, or work as a janitor, bouncer, or security person and never mix, serve, or sell alcohol in any manner for drinking
  • You work in a grocery store selling manufacturer-sealed containers of beer, wine, or cider for drinking off of the premises.
  • You are applying for or have a liquor license in your own name.