Getting a license to serve liquor in the state of Illinois can seem rather overwhelming, but with a little advance research and preparation, it can be a straightforward process. Keep in mind that you’ll need both a local (from the municipality where your establishment is located) and a state liquor license. Although the state offers many different kinds of liquor licenses, for the purposes of this post, we’ll focus on the most basic: a Retailer's liquor license. In most circumstances, a Retailer's License is the type of license required in order to also be licensed to have gaming machines.
First, you’ll need to obtain a liquor license from your local municipality. Each municipality has its own process for obtaining a license, involving different qualifications and costs. Through either a search of your municipality’s website or phone call, decipher which ‘basic’ license you will need to apply for in order to ultimately qualify for a Retailer license with the state. For example, in Springfield, a Google search leads to the main Liquor License Application. Your municipality’s application may or may not look similar.
Once you have obtained this from your municipality, you may apply with the state.
The Illinois Liquor Control Commission (ILCC) is the governing body that issues liquor licenses at the state level. According to the ILCC, “Strict qualifying criteria must be followed to obtain a liquor license as defined in the Illinois Liquor Control Act, which includes ownership information, local licensing, tax status and sales tax history.”
Strict regulations must be followed in order to obtain a state liquor license; and once obtained, it must be renewed each year.
The cost of an Illinois Retail Liquor license is $750.00. In connection with the state application, you must provide a photocopy of your local liquor license, Sales Tax number/Illinois Business Tax (IBT) number, and Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN). Additionally, a certificate of insurance is required for licensees with on-premise consumption or a combination of on/off-premise consumption.
It’s important to be educated on the entire process for obtaining a license prior to moving forward with submitting an application. Keep in mind rules will vary municipality to municipality. A phone call or Google search can help shed light on the specifics in your town.
Once you've gone through the process to obtain your license, make sure to make a note of when you'll need to renew it.