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Liquor License: Procedure for obtaining it in India

In legal terms, Liquor License is a permission granted by the State Excise Department to those who want to sell or distribute alcoholic beverages or drinks at a particular place. Every state has a different set of rules and regulations governing liquor, which shall be followed by every individual who wants to sell beer, hard drinks etc. Liquor license is issued by the Excise Department of the respective state. It is illegal for any individual to manufacture, dispense or sell intoxicating alcohol without a valid state license.

Article 47 of the Indian Constitution puts a duty upon the State to bring prohibition on the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health. This is a reason behind a strict ban on alcohol in as many as 5 Indian states.

According to the Licensing Act 2003, you need a license to sell alcohol and this includes giving away free alcohol as it is considered an incentive to purchase or that it is included in your pricing structure.

A WINE SHOP LICENSE OR REGULAR LIQUOR LICENSE REGULATES THE FOLLOWING FACTORS:

  1. What businesses can sell alcohol
  2. When and where the companies can sell alcohol
  3. Quantity of alcohol being sold
  4. Charges for the alcohol being sold
  5. Type of alcohol being sold
  6. Who to sell the alcohol to
  7. Who can manufacture and distribute alcohol

CLASSIFICATION OF LIQUOR LICENSES

While many of the Indian States grant a single liquor license for various kinds and classes of alcohol, in some states, an application for a grant of license of a specific class is required. Therefore, in states where a permit is required for different classes of alcohol, the following are the different set of general liquor licenses available in India-

  • Beer and Wine License – The Beer and Wine License is for those who are wishing to sell soft and mild liquors like beers and wine. Once a Beer and Wine License is obtained, there is a prohibition upon the license holder to deal with any kind of hard liquor.
  • Restaurant Liquor License –The Restaurant Liquor License is for restaurants that are willing and wish to serve alcohol on their premises. This type of license is also called the “All-Liquor License”. However, this type of license is only granted to restaurants whose business is mainly generated from the sale of food items, and only a percentage (not exceeding 40%) of sales come from liquor.
  • Tavern Liquor License – This type of license is granted to businesses, which in spite of offering food items make up half of their profits out of the alcohol sale.
  • Brewpub Liquor License –As the name suggests, this type of License is granted to those who make/ brew their wine and beer.

TYPES OF LIQUOR LICENSES

Various types of Liquor Licenses can be obtained as per the prevailing liquor laws of each state. Some of the general types of licenses for which an individual or a company can apply for are depicted in the following table:

LICENSE NAMEPURPOSE
L1It is a License granted for the wholesale supply of Indian liquor to other license holders.
L3/L5L3 is a liquor license granted to hotels that permit the serving of foreign liquors to residents staying in hotel rooms, whereas, L5 license is granted to serve liquor in bars or restaurants which are situated in the hotel premises.
L6L6 is issued to the retail vendors of Beers and Indian Liquors.
L19L19 is permitted to a club registered to serve foreign liquor.
L49L49 is easily granted to any person for serving liquor in any party or function at specific premises anywhere in a state.

There are other licenses like the L-11, L-12, L-15, L-16, L-17, L-18, L-19, L-20, L-21, L-28, L-29, L-30 licenses, which the state excise department grants for various other reasons.

SOME OF THE KEY LAWS GOVERNING ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION IN INDIA ARE:

1. The Delhi Excise Act, 2009

The Delhi Excise Act, 2009 is the act that governs all matters relating to the manufacture, import, export, transport, possession, purchase, sale, etc., of the liquor and other intoxicants, in the NCT of Delhi. As per Sec 23 of the Act, no person below the age of 25 shall be served and/or delivered alcohol for consumption. The Delhi Excise Act also establishes the licensing authorities for obtaining a liquor license in the NCT of Delhi.

2. The Delhi Excise Rules 2010

Complementing the Delhi Excise Act, 2009, the Delhi Excise Rules 2010, lays down the detailed procedure for obtaining a liquor license in Delhi. The Act also lays down detailed rules regarding the import, export, possession transport, permits and passes in relation to alcohol and other intoxicants.

3. The Bombay Prohibition Act 1949

The Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949 is an Act that caters to the enforcement and promotion of alcohol prohibition in the state of Bombay. After the state of Bombay was divided into the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat in 1960, the Act was made to be applicable in the State of Gujarat.

Under The Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949, a permit is mandatory to purchase, possess, serve or consume liquor. The Act also empowers the police and other authorities to arrest a person for indulging in acts that are in contravention to the Bombay Prohibition Act with punishment ranging from three months to five years in prison. The Bombay Prohibition Act thus bans liquor consumption in the state of Gujarat.

4. The Goa Excise Duty Act and Rules, 1964

The Goa Excise Duty Act and Rules, 1964, is a piece of legislation that regulates the manufacture, import, export, transport, possession, purchase, sale, etc., of the liquor and other intoxicants, in the state of Goa. The act consolidates all the functioning liquor laws prevailing in the state of Goa and defines key regulations such as legal drinking age, excise authorities, prohibitions, licensing rules, etc. Section 19 of The Goa Excise Duty Act and Rules act prohibits the sale of liquor to any person who is:

  • A person of unsound mind
  • A person below the age of 21

5. Tamil Nadu Liquor (License and Permit) Rules, 1981

The Tamil Nadu Liquor (License and Permit) Rules, 1981 is an act that regulates the manufacture, import, export, transport, possession, purchase, sale, etc., of the liquor and other intoxicants, in the state of Tamil Nadu. According to the general provisions of the act, no liquor can be imported in the state of Tamil Nadu, other than by persons holding a valid permit as per form FP3, FP5, FM1, and FL7. The act also restricts the export of liquor outside of Tamil Nadu except by persons holding a license as per form FL4.

6. Uttar Pradesh (United Provinces Excise Act, 1910)

The Uttar Pradesh (United Provinces Excise Act, 1910) is an act that regulates the manufacture, import, export, transport, possession, purchase, sale, etc., of the liquor and other intoxicants, in the state of Uttar Pradesh. According to the preamble of the act, it is drafted to promote, enforce and/or carry into effect the policy of prohibiting the import, export, transport, manufacture, sale, and possession of liquor and of intoxicating drugs in the United Provinces. The act prohibits the import and export of liquor in/from the state of Uttar Pradesh without prior approval of the State Government in the form of a permit/ license.

7. West Bengal (Bengal Excise Act 1909)

The West Bengal (Bengal Excise Act 1909) is an act that regulates the manufacture, import, export, transport, possession, purchase, sale, etc., of the liquor and other intoxicants, in the state of West Bengal. The act gives exclusive powers to the State Government to declare what constitutes “country” and “foreign” liquor. Additionally, the act lays down licensing and permit requirements for dealing with liquor and other intoxicants.

8. Haryana (Punjab Excise Act, 1914)

The Haryana (Punjab Excise Act, 1914) is an act that regulates the manufacture, import, export, transport, possession, purchase, sale, etc., of the liquor and other intoxicants, in the state of Haryana. The Act lays down provisions relating to the establishment of excise authorities, duties and fees, offenses and penalties relating to the import, export, manufacturing, and possession of liquor and other intoxicants. The act also sets the legal age of drinking as 25 years in the state of Haryana.

9. Karnataka Excise Act, 196T5

The Karnataka Excise Act, 1965 is a piece of legislation that regulates the manufacture, import, export, transport, possession, purchase, sale, etc., of the liquor and other intoxicants, in the state of Karnataka. The act lays down detailed provisions regarding the appointment of excise commissioners, licensing and permit regulations, duties, fees, offences, penalties, etc. The Karnataka Excise Act, 1965 sets the legal age of drinking in the state of Karnataka as 18 years.

In addition to the state-specific laws to regulate matters relating to liquor and other intoxicants.

THE AMBIT OF A LIQUOR LICENSE

Depending upon the legislation and laws of each state, a valid liquor license covers a wide ambit in relation to the manufacture, import, export, transport, possession, purchase, sale, etc., of liquor.

Thus a liquor license granted by the state excise department is applicable to not only to the businesses/entity involved in selling alcohol, it also caters to subjects like when and where the liquor can be sold/served/stored, details about the quantity and container in which the liquor must be sold, the cost and type of alcohol that can be sold/served and to whom the alcohol can be sold/ served.

Additionally, a Liquor License also implies regulations relating to the manufacturing, import, export, transport, and possession of liquor and other intoxicants.

THE LEGAL DRINKING AGE IN DIFFERENT STATES IN INDIA

Since liquor consumption and distribution laws are governed differently in different states, each state has its own age criteria when it comes to the legal drinking age. Here is a list of the legal drinking age in various states:

  • 25 years: Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Maharashtra and Dadra, and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu.
  • The Delhi Excise Department has sent a proposal to the Delhi Government for lowering the drinking age for wine and beer to 21, although it will still remain 25 for hard liquor.

In Maharashtra, a liquor license obtained from a Government Civil Hospital is required to drink, although this is largely not enforced. Additionally, state legislature empowers district governments to ban alcohol entirely. As a result, three districts, Wardha, Gadchiroli and Chandrapur have imposed a total ban on the production and sale of alcohol.

  • 23 years: Kerala
  • 18 years: Rajasthan, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Andaman & Nicobar, Puducherry, Sikkim, Jammu and Kashmir, and Karnataka.
  • 21 years: Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra (only for beer), Meghalaya, Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, and West Bengal. 
  • States where alcohol consumption is banned: Bihar, Gujarat, Lakshadweep (Consumption is legal only on the resort island of Bangaram), Manipur (Partial prohibition since 2002), and Nagaland.
  • Arrack has been banned in Karnataka since 1 July 2007.

HOW TO APPLY FOR A LIQUOR LICENSE IN INDIA?

As each state in India has its own set of liquor laws, rules, and regulations, it is important to have a thorough knowledge of the liquor laws prevailing in your state before applying for a liquor license. Since liquor laws of the state are laid down by the State Excise Department, anyone wishing to obtain a liquor license can inquire about the same by:

  • Visiting the website of the State Excise Department,
  • Physically visiting the licensing authority
  • Physically visiting nearby liquor shops.

Once you have a fair idea about the prevailing liquor laws, rules, and regulations of your state, you can decide the type and class of license you need to apply for. The general classes of license include:

  • Beer and Wine License
  • Restaurant Liquor License
  • Tavern Liquor License
  • Brewpub Liquor License

The third thing you need to figure out is the cost of your preferred liquor license as per your state laws

Once you have all the information about the cost and documents required to obtain your preferred liquor license, follow the given steps to apply for a Liquor License in India,

STEP 1: Visit the official website of your State Excise Department and download the application form for your preferred license type. Once downloaded, fill in the application form with all necessary details. Once filled, the form must be submitted to the concerned authority along with the required application fee which varies from state to state. 

While filling out the form, do remember to mention all the required details, including the type of liquor license required, premises where it needs to be served/sold, type of liquor planning to be served/sold, etc. Also, you must make sure to state your background information like age, business experience, criminal record (if any), etc. along with relevant documents.

STEP 2: The documents which are required to be attached along with the application form vary from license to license. However, documents like applicant’s identity proof, residence proof, a valid address and/or premise address proof, incorporation certificate ( in case of business entities), copy of ITR, etc. are universally required.

STEP 3: Once the application form is submitted, the state licensing authority will cross-check and verify the credentials submitted by you and can also call for additional documents required.

STEP 4: Post verification, a notice shall be posted by the concerned state authority on your personal or business address, declaring your name and the license details. The notice so displayed shall be open for any objections raised by the local people, which will be communicated to the concerned department.

STEP 5: In case an objection is raised, you will be given a right to defend yourself. In case, no objections are raised, the authority will review the application and grant you the Liquor License.

VALIDITY AND RENEWAL OF LICENSE

A Liquor License has a validity of 1 year from the date of issue. After expiry, a liquor license can be renewed annually, by filling the renewal application form available on the website of the State Excise Department and paying the relevant renewal fee.

Therefore, if any person wishes to get his /her license renewed, then he/she must apply for the same before thirty days from the date of expiry of the license along with the payment of a renewal fee which is fixed by the State Excise Department depending upon the type and/or class of the license. There can also be a reduction in the renewal fee, based upon the conduct and goodwill of the applicant.

REVOCATION OF THE LIQUOR LICENSE

A Liquor License will be liable for revocation if any one of the following acts is committed by the applicant:

  1. Serving of Liquor on Dry Days
  2. Serving of Liquors to Minors
  3. Violations of the rules and laws laid down by the state excise department

DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR OBTAINING A LIQUOR LICENSE

Each state has its own prescribed set of documents that are required for obtaining a liquor license. However, there are certain documents that are needed in general for obtaining a Liquor License. These are:

  1. Identity Proof of the Applicant
  2. Address proof of the applicant
  3. Address proof of the premise used for serving/selling/storing/manufacturing of alcohol
  4. NOC from the state fire department and municipal corporation
  5. Application with personal and business details of the applicant
  6. MOA and AOA copy in case of companies
  7. Latest ITR copy
  8. Applicant’s photograph
  9. An affidavit declaring that there are no past criminal records in the name of the applicant
  10. An affidavit declaring that there are no pending dues in the name of the applicant.

GUIDES BY THE EXCISE DEPARTMENT

To provide safe and quality liquor to the consumers, and to promote responsible drinking in India, the state excise departments’ issues various guidelines from time to time. These guidelines are aimed at raising awareness and ensuring a safe drinking environment. State Excise guidelines include:

  1. Buying liquor from State authorized liquor shops.
  2. Granting of the license to a valid and honest taxpayer.
  3. The use of liquor bought from army canteens must be restricted for personal use.
  4. Individuals traveling from one state to another must cater to the possession limit for alcohol in each state.
  5. Do not buy liquor, if you are below the legal drinking age.
  6. Do not service/sell any kind of liquor in an unlicensed premise.
  7. Every license holder should display a board showing the price of each brand of liquor in case of a liquor shop, menu rate list in case of a restaurant, bar, hotel or disco.

LIQUOR LICENSE COST IN INDIA

The cost of getting a wine license depends on the following factors:

  • Type of license
  • Nature of event, if applicable
  • Nature of the business entity

However, here is a look at the average cost of various licenses in India.

  • Temporary Liquor License: To throw small parties or events in a town whose population does not exceed 20 lakhs.
  • For less than 100 members – INR 7,000.
  • For more than 100 members – INR 10,000
  • FL-4 License: To host a party with liquor in a resort or private flat, the license costs around INR 13,000.

Permit Room License:

  • To serve in permit rooms – INR 5,44,000
  • For restaurants and wine/beer shops INR 1,50,000

State Liquor License:

  • Anywhere between INR 5000 to INR 15000 depending on the state
  • Annual license fee in Tier-1 cities INR 10 lakhs
  • Yearly license fee in Tier-2 cities INR 7.5 lakhs
  • Annual license fee in Tier-3 cities INR 5 lakhs
  • Yearly license fee in Tier-4 cities INR 2.5 lakhs

West Bengal Liquor License

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR LIQUOR LICENSE

To apply for a Liquor license in the state of West Bengal, the applicant needs to satisfy the following conditions:

  • The individual should be age twenty-one years or above and should be an India citizen or a Person of Indian Origin (in case of individuals the application can be made by a single individual or multiple individuals jointly).
  • firm which is regulated by the Indian Partnership Act, 1932.
  • A company which is regulated by the Companies Act, 1956.
  • society which is registered under the West Bengal Co-operative Act, 1983 or the West Bengal Societies Registration Act, 1961.

The following are some of the conditions by which an individual is not eligible for applying for the Liquor license in the State of West Bengal.

  • A person who has been convicted by a criminal court of a non-bailable offence.
  • An existing license holding person who has violated the terms and conditions of his license.
  • A person who was a defaulter in the payment of excise revenue to the State Government.
  • A person who is interested, either directly or indirectly, in the manufacture or sale of any intoxicant in foreign territory or any bordering State of West Bengal.

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS FOR SITE PLAN

The site plan for categories mentioned above like Restaurant-cum-Bar, Hotel-cum-Restaurant-cum-Bar, Hotel-cum-Bar should contain the layout of the site, main entrance, seating arrangements, restrooms, bar counters, foreign liquor store or go down, kitchen etc. Also the same should be duly signed by the applicant and the landlord or owner of the premises.

CATEGORIES OF LICENSE

Any eligible person can obtain a Liquor license based on the following categories. They are:

Temporary License

The following types of temporary license that are valid only for six months.

·        Restaurant-cum-Bar

This license issued for the retail sale of foreign liquor for consumption on the premises of any restaurant and    attached bar.

·        Hotel-cum-Restaurant-cum-Bar

This license issued for the retail sale of foreign liquor for consumption on the premises of any hotel and restaurant and attached bar.

·        Hotel-cum-Bar

This license issued for the retail sale of foreign liquor for consumption on the premises of any hotel and attached bar.

Note: While applying for the above categories of temporary licenses the applicant can request for additional bar licenses. In such cases, all additional bars must be clearly explained in the Site Plan that has to be submitted at the time of application.

Regular License

The following listed categories can make application for the regular licenses.

  1. License for the retail sale of beer, wine and low alcoholic beverage (LAB) for consumption off the premises from existing Departmental Stores with a minimum floor area of one thousand and five hundred square feet, having departments for the retail sale of various commodities.
  2. License for the retail sale of foreign liquor for consumption on the premises of theatre, club, canteen, Dak-bungalow, Railway refreshment room, dining car, steamer, customs airport or any place of public resort and entertainment and attached bar.

THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND ABOUT GETTING A WINE SHOP LICENSE IN INDIA

Since the production, sale and consumption of liquor are issues that fall into the state list according to the seventh schedule, each state has unique liquor laws.

Since liquor distribution and consumption laws differ between states, the legal drinking age also varies depending on the location.

Recently, the Delhi Excise Department asked the government to lower the legal age from 25 to 21 for the consumption of beer and wine. However, the limit will remain at 25 for the consumption of hard liquor.

While law dictates that individuals need a license from a Government Civil Hospital to drink in Maharashtra, this is not enforced. Furthermore, the State legislature gives district governments the power to ban alcohol entirely. As a result, Chandrapur, Wardha and Gadchiroli have a ban on the sale and production of alcohol.

B. Pramanik & Associates can help you to setup Liquor Shop and get Liquor License from the Government.

For more information contact with Mr. Pramanik – +91 6291316573 or Mail us: info@bpramanikassociates.com

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