Avoid surprises with your liquor license application: 30-day Municipality Notice

When it comes to applying for a liquor license, many clients are surprised at the amount of time it takes to prepare the application packet – not the filling out of forms, preparing statements and assembling the packet, but gathering all of the information and documentation necessary to complete and supplement the application.

One of the biggest surprises comes in learning that some on-premises liquor license and renewal applications require that local Municipality or (usually the City or Town Board) be given 30 days’ advance notice that the premises is seeking a license for on-premises alcohol consumption.  For premises located within New York City, any on-premises license (liquor, wine and beer) require the 30-day Notice. For premises located outside the City, only on-premises liquor (not beer or beer and wine) license applications require notification. You generally cannot mail your application until the 30 days has passed.

While the 30-day Notice could be considered a delay, it can also provide sufficient time to put together a thorough application packet, one that is more likely to be granted immediately, as opposed to conditional approval. A complete application prevents avoidable delays in the issuance process.

The SLA has a standardized Notice form, and the original form must be submitted to the Clerk of the local Municipality. There are three methods of delivering the notification: certified mail (return receipt), overnight mail and hand-delivery. If sending the Notice via certified mail, be sure to retain a copy of the form to submit with the application packet. The return receipt must also be included as proof of delivery. It is important to note that the 30 days begins on the date of receipt, not the date that the form was mailed.

As of January 1, 2011, overnight and hand delivery of the Notice were added as acceptable methods of delivery. For overnight delivery, written verification of the date of delivery is necessary to add to the application packet.

The quickest method is to hand-deliver the Notice to the Clerk and receive a date-stamped copy for the application packet as proof of delivery. While this may take more time out of your schedule, it starts the 30-day clock a few days earlier than the traditional method of certified mail delivery.

It should be noted that in some cases, you may be able to request a waiver from the Municipality. This would be a written statement from the Municipality that they recognize the proposed application and waive the notice requirement. The waiver is not standard practice and should only be requested when absolutely necessary. Requesting a waiver is not dependable either, as it is not guaranteed that the Municipality will waive the requirement or that the SLA will shorten the 30-day requirement.

The best strategy to avoid surprises and delays in the application process is to comply with the whats and the hows that the SLA requires. In this case what you need is the 30-day Notice and how you comply is by sending in the original standardized form via one of the approved methods of delivery.