Brewers’ Law 101: Florida ABT Manufacturing License
The manufacture of alcoholic beverages (generally, any beverage with greater than 0.5% alcohol by volume) is regulated by the federal government and the state government. Within the government of the State of Florida, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (ABT). The ABT is the agency responsible for licensing the alcoholic beverage industry, for collection and auditing of taxes and fees paid by beverage licensees, and for enforcing the laws and regulations of the alcoholic beverage industry.
Before commercially manufacturing alcohol within the State of Florida, the manufacturer (and the owners and managers of the manufacturer) must be approved by the ABT. Upon approval, the ABT will issue a different license type to the applicant depending on the beverage being manufactured: a CMB license for breweries, AMW license for wineries (including cideries and meaderies), and a DD license for distilleries. The approval process involves submitting an Application for New Alcoholic Beverage License to the ABT. This application must be completed, executed and submitted in hard copy. If application is made for a Temporary License (which allows the applicant to begin operations prior to final approval), the application must be filed with a filing fee equal to ¼ the annual license fee.
The ABT’s application requires detailed information about the manufacturer’s corporate structure and management, capitalization, management, and premises. In addition, copies of a number of other documents must be provided to the TTB, including the applicant’s owners’ agreement, premises lease or deed, and floor plan for the premises. The applicant must provide a tax bond in favor of the ABT. The ABT also reserves the right to request additional information regarding the applicant or any owner or manager of the applicant.
Before filing the ABT’s application, two other agencies must indicate approval by signing the application. Prior approval is required by the local zoning authority and Department of Revenue. The principal owners and managers of the applicant must be fingerprinted, in most cases using the electronic LiveScan system.
The ABT’s application is most often submitted to the ABT’s divisional office for the county in which the manufacturer is located. Prior to approving the application, the ABT’s enforcement section will conduct a live inspection of the premises. Generally, the application is approved and the license issued within 30 days of submission. Once the license is issued, the applicant has 15 days to pay the licensing fee.