Florida Alcoholic Beverage Storage Permits: Which One is Right?

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Florida Beverage Law authorizes two types of permits for the storage of alcoholic beverages: the Off Premises Storage (OPS) permit and the State Bonded Warehouse (SBW) permit. A comparison chart showing the different attributes of both permits is below.

Off Premises Storage (OPS): Ideal for Vendors

The Off Premises Storage (OPS) permit is intended for the storage of taxpaid, packaged products owned by license alcoholic beverage vendors. For instance, a small restaurant or bar with limited on-site storage capacity can easily maintain an OPS-permitted warehouse space to hold excess inventory of beer, wine, and distilled spirits products. Vendors participating in a pool buying group can store alcoholic beverage purchased for the group in a single warehouse space with an OPS permit. There is no application fee for obtaining the OPS permit, and no separate reporting requirement for products held in the permitted space.

The OPS permit is only available for a warehouse space that is located in the same county as the vendor’s licensed premises. In some cases, this might create a challenge for vendors that would prefer to locate an OPS-permitted warehouse midway between licensed retail locations in different parts of the state. In cases like this, it might be worthwhile to involve a local vendor in a pool buying group or engage an independent warehouse operator that maintains a state bonded warehouse in the desired location.

State Bonded Warehouse (SBW): Ideal for Suppliers and Distributors

The Stated Bonded Warehouse (SBW) permit is principally intended for holding tax unpaid alcoholic beverage products. Suppliers like manufacturers, importers, and exporters can store alcoholic beverages in an SBW-permitted warehouse before it goes to a distributor. Distributors can store tax unpaid products before selling them to vendors, or can agree to store vendors’ taxpaid products after the sale. Independent warehouse operators can also obtain an SBW permit to allow them to warehouse alcoholic beverage products that belong to other industry members.

There is no application form for the SBW permit. Application is made by sending a letter to the local licensing bureau of the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages & Tobacco (ABT), including the statutory fee of One Dollar ($1.00). Importantly, an ABT bond is required in the principal amount of $5,000, unless the ABT agrees to a reduced amount (not less than $1,000). The SBW permit requires recordkeeping and monthly reporting in the same manner as supplier and distributor licensing.

Storage Permits Comparison Chart

Off Premises Storage (OPS)State Bonded Warehouse (SBW)
Eligible PermiteesDistributors, Vendors, and Pool Buying GroupsManufacturers, Distributors, Importers, Exporters, and Independent Warehouse Operators
Permit Application FeeNo Fee$1.00
Bond RequirementNone$5,000 (ABT can agree to a smaller bond, but not less than $1,000)
Permit Application FormForm DBPR ABT-6017No specific form; application made by letter to the ABT
Taxpaid StatusTaxpaid product onlyTax unpaid product or taxpaid product deposited by licensed vendor
Reporting RequirementNo separate reporting requirementSeparate monthly reporting required; records required to be kept for 3 years at the permitted warehouse or other location approved by ABT
Location RequirementSame county as permitee’s principal licensed premisesNot limited; warehouse operated by distributor may be considered a separate branch requiring its own distributor license
ReferencesFlorida Statutes Section 562.03(b) Florida Administrative Code Section 61A-4.020Florida Statutes Sections 562.25, 565.03(3) Florida Administrative Code Section 61A-2.009

Do you have questions about Florida’s alcoholic beverage storage permits? Contact us to schedule a consultation with a beverage attorney.

Because we’re attorneys: Disclaimer. Posted September 4, 2022.

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