State and Local Licensing
Several agencies license or tax the manufacture, sale, warehousing, distribution and/or import of alcoholic beverages, including beer and wine. To apply for a license, applicants must complete a background check, a financial check, and be fingerprinted. For general information and the order in which permits need to be secured, contact your local city clerk’s office or county clerk’s office. Before applying for an alcoholic beverage permit, a business must first secure a retail beer license.
Selling by the drink – To sell alcoholic beverages by the drink, contact the following agencies:
- Idaho State Police, Alcohol Beverage Control Division for a state license
- County sheriff’s office or Idaho State Police for background checks and fingerprints
- County clerk or recorder’s office for a county license
- City clerk’s office to obtain a local license. (Businesses located outside city limits will secure a specialty liquor license, not a city permit.)
- Idaho State Tax Commission to obtain a beer or wine tax permit and a sales tax permit (reseller’s permit)
Selling by the bottle – To sell distilled alcoholic beverages by the bottle, import, transport, distribute, or deliver alcoholic beverages in Idaho, contact the Idaho State Liquor Division in addition to the above agencies.
Idaho alcohol laws – Idaho Statute Title 23
The following documents are needed to apply for an alcohol license:
- Completed application (obtained from Idaho State Police Alcohol Beverage Control),
- A copy of applicant’s retail beer license
- Fingerprint cards and fees to cover the cost of background checks for everyone listed on the application
- A copy of the lease agreement or proof of ownership of the property where the alcohol will be served, including a detailed description of the premises, proof of zoning approval and a copy of the city or county building occupancy permit
- A copy of the most recent health department facility inspection
- If food is sold, a copy of the menu with individually priced items
- Names and addresses of all persons having a financial interest in the business, including mortgage holders, lease holders and silent partners
- a copy of the business’s entity registration (corporation, LLC, etc.) filed with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office
- Detailed financial statements for the business and each person listed on the application
The U.S. Department of the Treasury, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau licenses the following:
- Importers and exporters
- Wholesalers and distributors
- Alcoholic beverage warehouses
- Sake’ production – Sake’ is regulated as both wine and beer
- Cider – regulated as a wine
- Alcohol containing caffeine
- Industrial non-beverage alcohol
- Wine Direct Shippers need a wine license, a direct shippers permit, an Idaho sales tax permit and a wine tax permit.
Individuals having wine shipped to their homes for personal use pay use tax if the shipper did not charge sales tax.
- Wine Catering Permit: Needed by wineries, bars, restaurants and other wine providers to serve and sell wine at an off-site event.
- Winery-sponsored events: Special events open to the public and not held at a licensed winery and at which wine will be sold, such as festivals, need a permit from Idaho State Police Alcohol Beverage Control. Private events and parties held at a licensed winery, such as wedding receptions, do not need a permit.
- Wine labeling – Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)
- Consumer-Direct Beer Shipments: The direct shipment of beer to a residence is illegal. It is also illegal for a distributor to pay for the exclusive right to distribute the products of small breweries.
- Strong Beer: Beer containing more than 5% alcohol, called “strong” beer, is taxed as wine.
- Malt beverages containing caffeine
- Beer Labeling – Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)
If the alcohol content of kombucha is 0.5% or more at any time during production or bottling, it is considered an alcoholic beverage and Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau regulations apply.
Change in Brewery or Winery Ownership or Control
When a brewery or winery changes ownership, registered entity type, or there is a change in physical or legal control of the business (new stockholders or LLC managers), the U. S. Treasury Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau should be contacted. Business activities may be suspended until the new owners are approved.
Organizations desiring to serve beer or wine at a charitable event lasting 3 days or less need to secure a temporary nonprofit event permit. The applicant must not have a current wine or beer permit and all proceeds must go to charity. Distilled spirits cannot be served. The same permit covers serving both beer and wine.
Home Brewing or Distilling
- Idaho State Police: Wine or Beer
- Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau: Home Distilling
Alcohol Seller/Server Awareness Training
Alcohol Beverage Control offers free training for those who sell or serve alcohol, including retail store staff, bartenders and servers. See their website for class locations and dates. Some training is available online.