Florida’s Temporary Alcohol Licenses: FAQ

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Applicants for a Florida alcoholic beverage license–whether a manufacturing, distribution, or retail vendor license–can get a Temporary Initial License. What is it?

What is a Temporary Initial License?

A Temporary Initial License allows alcoholic beverage companies to get an alcoholic beverage license more quickly. As soon as the Temporary Initial License is issued, the licenseholder can immediately begin the license activities. Think of the Temporary Initial License like a probationary license.

Are there limitations that apply to a Temporary Initial License?

The Temporary Initial License allows the licenseholder to do everything that is allowable with a Permanent License, with one limited exception applicable to some licensed vendors.

A vendor that holds a Temporary Initial License may only purchase alcoholic beverages for cash (and not on up to 10-days credit, as would otherwise be permitted). This restriction does not apply if the licenseholder already holds the same time of alcoholic beverage license for a different location or purchases are made through pool buying agent.

What is required to get a Temporary Initial License?

The Florida Beverage Law (specifically Florida Statutes Section 561.181) authorizes the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (the ABT) to issue temporary alcoholic beverage licenses when four conditions are met:

  1. The alcoholic beverage license application includes a request for a Temporary Initial License.
  2. The applicant has paid the Temporary Initial License fee.
  3. The license application package is complete, including all required signoffs and required attachments, and the related parties have been fingerprinted.
  4. The license application does not on its face disclose any reason for denying the requested alcoholic beverage license.

How long does it take to get a Temporary Initial License issued?

Currently, it typically takes 10-15 business days after an application is submitted until a Temporary Initial License is issued.

A Temporary Initial License will be issued as soon as an ABT Licensing Specialist has completed his or her review of the license application package, assuming the conditions outlined above are met. However, it can sometimes be several days (or weeks) before the license application package can be reviewed by a Licensing Specialist. The ABT has a limited number of specialists working one-by-one through the ABT’s long queue of submitted application. At times when the volume of license applications to be reviewed is high, or when the ABT has fewer available Licensing Specialists, the wait for a Temporary Initial License can be longer.

Errors in the application, submitting an application without the required signatures or attachments, or failure to have required fingerprinting completed will also delay issuance of the Temporary Initial License.

What does a Temporary Initial License cost?

The Temporary Initial License fee is 1/4 the annual license fee or $100, whichever amount is greater. This is a one-time fee that must be paid at the time of filing the application requesting a Temporary Initial License. The Temporary Initial License fee is not a prepayment or partial payment of the annual license fee, which must be paid prior to getting the Permanent License.

Does a Temporary Initial License expire?

The Temporary Initial License expires when one of the following happens:

  1. The ABT finally denies the license application.
  2. 14 days after the ABT finally approves the license application and issues its invoice for payment of the annual license fee.
  3. The Permanent License is issued.

Until the first of these events happens, the Temporary Initial License is effective and allows the licenseholder to operate on a probationary basis.

Can a Temporary Initial License be revoked?

A Temporary Initial License can be revoked by the ABT for the same reasons and on the same basis as revocation may be ordered for a Permanent License.

What is required to convert a Temporary Initial License to a Permanent License?

Before a Temporary Initial License is issued, the ABT must complete its review of the license application, including an inspection of the licensed premises.

After its initial review of a license application, the ABT Licensing Specialist will communicate with the ABT’s Enforcement Bureau to assign an ABT Investigator for purposes of conducting the initial license inspection of the premises. In most case, the ABT Investigator will contact the contact person listed on the license application to schedule the inspection. After the inspection, the ABT Investigator will generate an Inspection Report showing that the inspection is passed or failed or requiring that changes be made prior to a re-inspection. At the end of the inspection process the ABT Investigator will report back to the Licensing Specialist.

After the premises inspection is passed, the ABT Licensing Specialist will issue an invoice for the annual licensing fee (or 1/2 amount for certain licenses issued in the second half of the license year). The Licensing Specialist will give the license application contact person directions for paying the invoice by mail, telephone, or online. In all cases, the invoice must be paid within 14 days after issuance. After the ABT Licensing Specialist has received confirmation of payment, he or she will issue the Permanent License.

Is the licenseholder required to take steps to convert a Temporary Initial License to a Permanent License?

The licenseholder’s role in converting a Temporary Initial License to a Permanent License includes the following:

  1. After receiving contact form the ABT Investigator, coordinating with him or her to schedule the premises inspection.
  2. If the ABT Investigator’s report reflects that actions are required prior to a re-inspection of the premises, addressing those actions and reporting back to the ABT Investigator when they are completed.
  3. After receiving notice from the ABT Licensing Specialist that the Permanent License invoice has been issued, paying the invoice and providing confirmation of payment to the Licensing Specialist.

Why does it sometime take a long time for the ABT to schedule the Permanent License inspection or issue the Permanent License invoice?

There may be many reasons for these delay, but lack of staffing seems to be the biggest factor. The ABT’s Licensing Bureau and Enforcement Bureau do not have enough employees, relative to the volume of license applications, to process them all more quickly.

Difficulties in the coordination among the licenseholder, ABT Licensing Specialist, and ABT Investigator can also contribute to delays in issuance of the Permanent License.

If the ABT is delayed scheduling the Permanent License inspection or issuing the Permanent License invoice, can the licenseholder take steps to expedite the process?

There is not much that the licenseholder can do to expedite issuance of the Permanent License. Of course, the licenseholder can and should handle its part of the process, as outlined above, as completely and promptly as possible.

The licenseholder can also follow up–persistently but politely–with both the ABT Licensing Specialist and the ABT Investigator. However, the licenseholder should not be obnoxious and should not give either of them or anyone else associated with the ABT reason to slow things even more.

Should the licenseholder be concerned about the ABT’s delays to converting a Temporary Initial License to a Permanent License?

Absolutely not.

Remember, the Temporary Initial License allows the licenseholder to conduct the licensed activity without limitations (except as noted above). From that standpoint, the licenseholder should not care at all how long it takes the ABT to issue the Permanent License.

There’s one more reason for the licenseholder to be content with its Temporary Initial License status: the ABT will not invoice the annual license fee until its ready to issue the Permanent License. The delay may cause the Permanent License to be issued in the second half of the current licensing year or even in the next licensing year. In either case, the delay means that the licenseholder pays less in licensing fees. By that logic, a licenseholder should wish for the ABT to never issue the Permanent License.

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

Because we’re attorneys: Disclaimer. Posted February 26, 2023.

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