Distribution of alcoholic beverages in the United States is conducted through a three-tiered system: manufacturing (supplier/importer), wholesaling and retailing. At the first two levels, manufacturing and wholesaling, licenses are required on a federal and state bases. With respect to the retail tier, although there are no federal permits required, there is a need for state and, in many jurisdictions, licenses.


Manufacturing (plant facility): Both federal and state licenses will be required as well as the posting of surety bonds in order to protect governmental tax revenues on the manufacture of product and to safeguard against violations of law. The federal agency also requires a special tax stamp for the registration of the prospective manufacturer.


Supplier/Importer: Provided the importer and supplier are US-based, federal permits and, in most instances, state licenses will be required. In certain jurisdictions, an importer cannot qualify as a wholesaler. In addition, in some jurisdictions, one cannot be both a manufacturer and wholesaler. As noted above, surety bonds will be required to protect both revenue and against violations. Federal occupational tax stamp is required.


Wholesaler: At this tier, federal and state licensing is required, as well as surety bonds. Many states require that product come to rest at warehouse premises either owned or controlled by the wholesaler prior to sale and delivery to local retailers. Again, federal occupational tax stamp is required.


Retailer: State licensing is required, together with federal occupational tax stamp. Retail licensing may be restricted based on population census or based on ownership limitations.


With respect to all of the above licenses, a business premises is required. Agencies will conduct personal history review, often including fingerprinting, as well as financial background investigation. Generally, applicants must be aware of ownership restrictions among the tiers and, on a personal level, if the agency investigation reveals a criminal history.


Buchman Law Firm, LLP is experienced in reviewing applicant eligibility and obtaining licenses at all tiers nationwide. We represent small, start-up operations to publicly traded companies well established in the industry.




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