Requirements for Beer Licensing in Tennessee

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A Liquor-By-the-Drink license is required to serve high alcohol content beer in Tennessee.
A Liquor-By-the-Drink license is required to serve high alcohol content beer in Tennessee. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Businesses such as restaurants, theaters and clubs must obtain state and local liquor licenses to serve beer and to have beer consumed on the premises. These businesses can dramatically increase their income by selling alcoholic beverages. The Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission (ABC) grants state liquor licenses. The specific licenses required to serve beer depends on the alcohol content of the beer that will be sold.

Beer Licenses

Liquor-By-the-Drink (LBD) license is a state issued license that allows the business to sell alcohol, including beer, with an alcohol content greater than 5 percent by weight. In addition, establishments must obtain a beer license from the local beer board. This license permits the sale of beer with less than a 5 percent alcohol content.

LBD Requirements

Businesses seeking an LBD license must obtain a Tennessee sales tax number from the Tennessee Department of Revenue. Any businesses that are structured as a corporation, partnership or LLC must obtain a charter from the Tennessee Secretary of State. Businesses located in Davidson County, Tennessee must also contact the Metropolitan Codes Department to obtain a Use and Occupancy approval letter to submit with the liquor license application.

LBD Application

Businesses seeking to obtain an LBD license must submit a notarized application to the Alcoholic Beverage Commission. In addition, each person who owns more than 5 percent of the establishment must complete and submit a notarized questionnaire to accompany the application. The questionnaire asks each individual about their financial contributions and liabilities in terms of the business and any other previous or current businesses dealing in alcoholic beverages. A price list of all drinks and printed copy of the menu, proof of lease or ownership of the premises and a list of business officers or owners must be included with the application.

Inspection

After the application has been submitted to Tennessee ABC, a representative will conduct an inspection of the premises to ensure that all information is accurate and the business is properly set up, fire and safety inspections have been completed and the business is ready to open. The business must also obtain bond forms from the Department of Revenue after submitting the application. Licenses are issued within one day of approval of application and obtaining the bonds.

Server Permits

Servers who will be serving beer must obtain a server permit. Servers must be over the age of 18 to obtain the work permit card. The card must be renewed every five years.

Local Beer License

Businesses are also required to obtain a city or county liquor license. Businesses must complete an application and submit it to the local beer board. Specific requirements vary by municipality. The city of Crossville, Tennessee, for example, requires businesses to complete an application, pay application fees and a privilege tax and a Sales and Use Tax Certificate. Crossville reviews permits once per month.

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