How to Get a Georgia Liquor License

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Surety Bond Professionals is a family owned and operated bonding agency with over 30 years of experience. In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to get a Georgia liquor license. 

With access to a broad range of surety markets, our expert agents are ready to assist with all of your Georgia alcohol tax bond needs.

What Liquor Licenses Are Issued in Georgia?

Georgia’s Department of Revenue (DOR) issues alcohol licenses in a number of categories, but only after the applicant has been granted a local alcohol license in the specific city or county where the business will be located. This applies to all businesses in the state that buy, sell, or distribute alcoholic beverages. 

Those main license categories are subdivided into specific license types based on what alcoholic beverages the business will be buying, selling, or distributing (i.e., beer, wine, or liquor, or some combination of these) and what kind of establishment is to be licensed (e.g., restaurant, bar, convenience store, etc.).

What Are the Steps in the Licensing Process?

Getting a local license is the hard part. Once you have that, your state license will be issued without further investigation.

The process for obtaining a local license varies by jurisdiction, but typically involves:

  • Providing proof of residence in the jurisdiction
  • Providing proof that you are a U.S. citizen or have permanent residency status
  • Undergoing fingerprinting and a criminal background check
  • Submitting a completed application package and all required supporting documentation
  • Paying the application and licensing fees

Some local jurisdictions as well as DOR require applicants for a liquor license to purchase a surety bond. For example, at the state level, retail sellers of alcohol must purchase a $2,500 alcohol tax bond before they can obtain a state license.

Why is an Alcohol Tax Bond Required?

An Alcohol tax bond typically functions as both a tax liability bond and a performance bond. It protects the state of Georgia in the event that a licensee fails to pay taxes as required. It also guarantees that the business will operate in full compliance with all applicable state laws governing the alcoholic beverage industry.

The bond provides a source of funds for paying overdue taxes and for paying damages incurred as a result of the licensee’s unlawful or unethical business conduct. The required bond amount, or “penal sum,” established by DOR is the maximum amount that will be paid out on a single claim. 

Failure to maintain an active alcohol tax bond at all times can result in license suspension or revocation.

How Are Georgia Alcohol Tax Bond Claims Paid?

The power of a surety bond to regulate a licensee’s behavior comes from the fact that it is a legally binding contract. The three parties to that contract are:

  • DOR—the “obligee” requiring the bond
  • The licensee—the “principal” required to purchase the bond and to pay all valid claims against it
  • The surety—The company guaranteeing the bond

Although paying valid claims is the legal obligation of the principal, in most cases the surety will pay a claim initially to ensure a timely resolution of the matter. This creates a debt that the principal is legally obligated to repay to the surety. Failure to do so can result in the surety taking legal action against the surety.

How Much Does a Georgia Alcohol Tax Bond Cost?

What you will pay as the annual premium for a Georgia alcohol tax bond depends on the bond’s penal sum and the premium rate set by the surety’s underwriters. The surety is concerned primarily about the risk of not being repaid on schedule by the principal. The best indicator of that credit risk is the principal’s personal credit score.

Consequently, the higher your credit score, the lower the premium rate you will be assigned, and vice versa. If your credit is good, you should qualify for a premium rate that’s between one and three percent.  

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Our surety agents will get you the Georgia alcohol tax bond you need for a Georgia liquor license at a competitive rate.