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Major change to the Retail Alcohol Licensing process in Georgia

Traditionally, getting an alcohol license in the State of Georgia required retailers to file separate applications with the State and then another application with the county or city that the place of business was located. This process has caused confusion and stress for our clients over the years. However, in 2020 Governor Brian Kemp signed into law a bill centralizing the process of applying for and renewing Retail Alcohol licenses. The law is simply named HB 879-2020 and can be found in the GA CODE as O.C.G.A. 3-2-7.1. This law requires that “the Georgia Department of Revenue develop and implement a state-wide centralized application process that ensures an application is sent simultaneously to the Local licensing Authorities and the State.”

What does this mean for you?

By implementing the new system in January of 2022, individual businesses that sell alcohol in their stores no longer need to complete an application specific to the city or county they are doing business in. Instead, businesses will only need to complete the application provided on the Georgia Tax Center website. Once the application is submitted, the state will automatically forward the application to the respective city or county where your business is located. Furthermore, the Georgia Tax Center website will also provide instructions on how to pay both the state license fee and the local license fee.

What the new law does not change.

While this law has streamlined the initial application process for registering and renewing alcohol licenses on the state and local levels, this application is not intended to complete the entire application process for each locality. Many cities or counties may require additional documentation that must be submitted to the locality separately. The additional documentation required may not be listed when completing the application on the Georgia Tax Center website. It is very important to consult a legal professional to discuss the specific requirements for the city or county your business will operate in.

Additionally, it is important to remember that there still exist two applications, even though you will only complete one. This means that the state will still require the locality to approve your local license before the state can approve the state license.

This does not centralize alcohol regulations to the state. Each county or city still can control and regulate the sale and distribution of alcohol within their respective borders.

Finally, this new process only applies to the Alcohol Retail License applications and renewals, this does not change the application for distributors or other methods of alcohol sales.

The implementation of this system is significant progress in innovating the application process. However, this does not eliminate the need to do the proper research necessary for applying for an alcohol license. If you have any questions concerning this new process and how it might benefit your business, please set up a consultation with one of our attorneys and we will be glad to discuss the matter specific to your case.

Disclaimer: The above content is published for the public education instead of providing legal advice. Should you have any specific questions, please schedule an attorney consultation with our office here or email us at

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