Types of Federal Licenses to Import. Produce, or Sell Alcohol

There are several federal licenses you need before you can produce, sell, or import beverage alcohol. The distilled spirits plant license is required if you plan to distill or bottle alcohol. Bonded winery requires a federal license, this is one that produces their own wine, or bottling houses that bottle wine in mass from vineyards.

An import license is required, when importing beverage alcohol from outside of the US. Lastly, a wholesale permit allows the distribution of alcohol on a retail level, where no production takes place.

Lindsey A. Zahn, Esq. is an alcohol beverage and food attorney at Lehman Beverage Law, PLLC. Ms. Zahn has previously counseled wine, beer, and spirits companies on licensing and compliance, federal and state labeling, customs regulations, supplier agreements, and advertising and promotions. She is an award-winning author on wine law, publishes a leading wine law blog called On Reserve, and has traveled to over a dozen wine regions in the U.S. and Europe.

John D. Messinger, Esq. is an attorney at Lehrman Beverage Law, PLLC. He joined the firm in 2006 as a law clerk, after working as an intern and consultant with the World Bank, Legal Operations and Policy. John focuses on TTB labeling and formulation matters and also state compliance issues.
John has a particular interest in beer and craft beer issues, and he is an avid small-scale brewer.

In this CLE class clip, Lindsey and John discuss the Types of Federal Licenses to Import. Produce, or Sell Alcohol.

Watch the Full Beer, Wine, & Spirits Law CLE Class

A brewers notice is not actually a federal license, it is more of a tax classification, and concerns breweries, brewpubs, and pilot brewing plants.

Applicants can qualify unless they have certain issues, such as not being able to commence operations in a reasonable time frame from applying. In the instance that any officers, directors, or principal stockholders of the corporation has been convicted of a federal or state felony within the last five years of filing, or have a federal misdemeanor related to liquor in the past three years.

If the entity is unlikely to operate in conformity with federal law, or proposed operations are in violation with state laws, they will not qualify for a license. For instance, if a state has a regulation that a distillery can not open within a school, and the proposed plan is in violation of that regulation, they will not qualify for a federal license.

There is a substantial amount of personal information that will be required for a federal license. The owners and officers information required is SSN, date of birth, height, weight, and other personal identifiable characteristics. Arrest records, criminal, and business background history documentation is also required. This information will need to be provided on each owner, partner, trustee, director, member, managing member, and anyone who holds 10% or more of stock/interest in the company.

The main point of contact for the company will be required to provide a copy of a current photo identification.

Bank records for the company, will also be required for review in the licensing process.