What are the requirements to open liquor store in Georgia?

Opening a liquor store in Georgia requires meeting certain legal and business requirements. The state regulates the alcohol industry closely, from licensing to operations. Understanding the steps to start a liquor store ensures your business follows regulations.

Licensing Requirements

Georgia issues several liquor license types for selling alcohol. Each allows retail sales with certain restrictions. The main licenses liquor stores need include:

  • Package store license – Allows beer, wine and liquor sales for off-premises consumption. This is the most common type.
  • Retail liquor store license – Allows in-store wine tasting. You must derive at least 50% of revenue from liquor sales.
  • Retail beer and wine store license – Allows selling beer and wine only. Food sales cannot exceed 50% of gross revenue.

The Georgia Department of Revenue’s Alcohol and Tobacco Division regulates licensing. Licenses are issued to individuals, not businesses. You must submit fingerprints for a background check. Certain criminal convictions may disqualify applicants.

Licenses also require:

  • Being a Georgia resident for at least one year
  • Being a United States citizen
  • Being at least 21 years old
  • Paying licensing fees from $100-$5,000 depending on type

Licenses must get renewed annually. The state limits the number of retail licenses issued in each county based on population. Some counties are “dry” and prohibit alcohol sales completely.

Special Licenses

Certain situations require additional liquor licenses in Georgia:

  • Wholesale licenses – Required for businesses selling to other retailers for resale. Separate wholesale licenses exist for malt beverages, wine and distilled spirits.
  • Importer licenses – Allows out-of-state suppliers to sell products to Georgia wholesalers. Non-resident importer licenses are available.
  • Manufacturing licenses – Required for in-state beer, wine and liquor producers. Farm winery and craft brewery licenses also available.

Operational Requirements

Georgia law regulates liquor store operations and sales practices. Key requirements relate to:

Age Verification

Liquor stores must verify customers are at least 21 years old for any alcohol sales. Acceptable ID includes a driver’s license, passport or military ID. Staff must check ID for anyone appearing under 30. Stores that fail to verify age may face fines or license suspension.

Hours of Operation

Liquor stores can operate between 8:00 am and 11:45 pm Monday through Saturday. Sales are prohibited on Sundays unless the local government allows it through a referendum vote. Stores must close on major holidays like Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day.

Alcohol Purchases

Customers have limits for take-home purchases from liquor stores:

  • Distilled spirits – Up to 8,640 fluid ounces per day
  • Beer – Up to 288 ounces per day
  • Wine – Up to 11,520 ounces per day

It is illegal to sell alcohol to anyone who appears intoxicated. Stores who violate this face license suspension or revocation.

Food Sales

Liquor stores with package store licenses cannot sell food for on-premise consumption. However, packaged snacks like chips do not count as prepared foods. Retail store licenses allow limited food sales based on revenue.


Customers may sample up to 8 ounces of beer and 6 ounces of wine when allowed by the liquor license. No hard alcohol samples are permitted. Customers must be verified as 21 or older first.

Store Facility Requirements

The store’s physical location and layout must meet standards for approval. These facility requirements include:

  • Cannot be within 100 yards of a school or church
  • Must be a permanent building, not a tent or temporary structure
  • Exterior signs cannot promote underage drinking or excessive alcohol consumption
  • Interior must have adequate lighting
  • Inventory must be kept behind a counter or other barrier
  • Must meet federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility standards

The store’s exterior cannot have neon signs or allow loitering. Entrances between a liquor store and another business are prohibited. Security cameras are recommended but not legally required.

Local Zoning

Georgia liquor stores must comply with local zoning and building codes. Some municipalities restrict certain areas for alcohol sales or require special use permits. Research your local requirements early in the process.


Liquor store employees must meet standards to sell alcohol legally:

  • Minimum age of 21 years old
  • Pass background checks
  • Complete alcohol seller training on spotting fake IDs and recognizing intoxication
  • Manager must be authorized on the liquor license

Underage employees like cashiers can work in liquor stores but cannot handle alcohol sales. Employee training helps ensure your store complies with important sales laws.

Inventory Management

Georgia regulates inventory management for liquor stores. This includes requirements like:

  • Purchasing alcohol inventory only from licensed Georgia wholesalers
  • Maintaining accurate sales records and invoices
  • Reporting monthly inventory and sales figures to the state
  • Paying excise taxes on all alcohol purchases
  • Renewing liquor stock to prevent old products from selling
  • Storing high-value items in a locked storage area

Proper inventory controls help account for all alcohol products and minimize loss. Failing to report accurate figures can jeopardize your license.

Insurance Requirements

Liability insurance coverage is highly recommended for Georgia liquor stores. This protects against claims like:

  • Customer injuries on premises
  • Alcohol-related accidents by intoxicated customers
  • Inventory damage from theft or disasters
  • Employee discrimination lawsuits

General business insurance packages often exclude liquor liability. Work with an insurer experienced in alcohol industry risks.

Financing Requirements

Starting a liquor store requires substantial upfront capital and financing. Costs include:

  • Inventory purchases
  • Renting or buying a commercial property
  • Obtaining licenses and permits
  • Leasehold improvements like security systems
  • Hiring and training staff
  • Developing operating procedures
  • Marketing and branding efforts

A detailed business plan helps estimate total expenses and operating costs. Financing options include:

  • Personal savings and investments
  • Loans from banks and credit unions
  • Private funding from investors
  • Crowdfunding through online platforms
  • Small Business Administration (SBA) guaranteed loan programs

Lenders examine factors like your business plan, credit score, collateral, and previous experience when approving financing. Sufficient capital gives new liquor stores the best chance to succeed.

Federal TTB Licensing

Along with state licenses, liquor stores must obtain a federal permit from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). The TTB either issues a:

  • Federal Basic Permit – For retailers only selling alcohol received from a wholesaler
  • Brewer’s Notice – For manufacturers/importers who produce and sell their own products

The TTB application requires a background check, fingerprinting, and disclosing funding sources. Fees range from $250 to $2,000+. Renewals happen annually.

Other Legal Considerations

Along with licensing, liquor stores must meet federal and state legal requirements regarding:


  • Collecting and remitting alcohol excise taxes
  • Paying annual retail alcohol license fees
  • Following sales tax regulations on purchases
  • Submitting employee payroll taxes

Labor Laws

  • Verifying employee eligibility to work in the United States
  • Complying with workers compensation insurance requirements
  • Abiding by laws on minimum wage, overtime pay, family leave, etc.
  • Maintaining proper payroll records and Form I-9 documents

Product Regulation

  • Purchasing alcohol from licensed suppliers
  • Following code labeling standards on bottling and packaging
  • Serving alcohol in the manufacturer’s original container
  • Meeting any requirements for allowable alcohol content by volume (ABV)

Steps to Obtain a Liquor License in Georgia

Follow these general steps to get a liquor store license in Georgia:

  1. Choose a store location – Find a commercial property appropriately zoned for liquor sales. It must meet distance limits from churches and schools.
  2. Apply for state license – Submit paperwork and fees to the Georgia Department of Revenue Alcohol and Tobacco Division. Pass background checks.
  3. Acquire local permits – Get approvals from the city or county planning office, fire marshal, etc.
  4. Apply for federal permit – File paperwork and fees with the TTB. Requires additional background checks.
  5. Build out store interior – Create display areas, checkout counters, storage space, security systems, etc.
  6. Hire employees – Recruit staff members over 21 and conduct training on alcohol compliance.
  7. Obtain inventory – Purchase an initial liquor stock from Georgia wholesalers and distributors.
  8. Open for business – Stock shelves, set hours, and start selling alcohol to customers.

This process takes at least several months with all requirements. Seek legal and accounting guidance to ensure full compliance.


Launching a profitable, legally compliant liquor store in Georgia involves in-depth planning and preparation. From acquiring inventory to staffing requirements, the alcohol retail business is heavily regulated. Working closely with state and local officials makes navigating licensing much smoother.

Understanding all operational and facility regulations is also crucial. Failing to meet requirements can lead to revoked licenses and store closures. Connecting with experienced professionals provides guidance for new liquor store owners and investors.

With proper planning and financing, a liquor store can thrive in Georgia. This niche retail business provides localized demand. However, running a compliant, safe establishment is essential given societal concerns over excess alcohol consumption.

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