Below are various guides and informational resources related to Ohio liquor laws and the licensing and registration process sorted into topical categories. Click each topic below for more information on each topic/question.
***The information on this webpage is for informational purposes only and should NOT be considered legal advice. There can be many factors and variables applicable to your situation that are not covered above. Because we cannot provide you legal advice, you should always consider consulting your own liquor attorney for personalized advice.***
General Division of Liquor Control Information
Where are we located?
What are our hours of operation?
- Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm, excluding state holidays.
Can I drop off documents in person?
- Yes. You can submit any documents in-person at our Tussing Road Office during the above hours.
Where can I email or fax documents (not original applications) to the Division?
- Please fax the documents to 614-644-3166 or email them to LiquorDocs@com.ohio.gov (PDF preferred if by email). Pictures from a phone that are NOT in a pdf format are often hard to print/upload to a file.
- To help us make sure your documents are placed on the correct file, please include your permit number on each page. If your application has not yet been entered into our system, which you can check on our search page under "Applications received that are being processed," then please include the:
- applicant name, as it appeared on the submitted application,
- address, city/township, and county where the business will operate, and
- the type of application you filed (i.e., transfer, new A, B, C, or D class, etc.).
A payment I submitted could not be cashed for some reason. Who can I contact to resolve this situation?
- Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and include the permit number, if applicable, or the name of the business that applied for the permit. Also include the amount of the check and check number that did not clear.
Liquor Regulation Overview
What law or rules are liquor permit holders responsible for knowing?
- Read more about the various liquor laws that liquor permit holders are responsible for knowing about.
What are some of the different industry associations or governmental agencies that liquor permit holders need to know about?
- To learn more about the various groups that interact with liquor permit holders go to our resource page listing our regulatory partners.
What is a three tier system and how does it impact liquor permit holders?
- Learn more about how alcohol is regulated in Ohio and the prohibitions across the tiers.
New Permit Related Information
What is a taxing district?
- For our purposes, a taxing district is another name for an Ohio city, township, or village in which your permit will be issued. All permits are assigned to a single taxing district for quota purposes, notices to the impacted local government, and fee distributions to the local government where the permit is located. All permits are issued to a single taxing district. Thus, the exact city, township, or village where your permit is located is VERY important for you to know BEFORE you apply.
Information and Resources related to Ohio's Quota Based Permits
- Here are the various types of quota and how they work, including what are the population based quotas within your taxing district.
- Find out if there is a waiting list or who is in line waiting for a permit within each taxing district.
How can permits be transferred from one business to another or one location to another?
- Learn more about how permits, provided certain conditions are met, can be transferred from one business or location to another owner or location.
I applied for a new permit and I was told there are no openings? What options do I have?
- You have a few options, including waiting on the list until a permit becomes available or finding a permit holder within the same taxing district that is willing to transfer a permit to you.
- Another possible option is to TREX a permit.
Why can some people sell certain types of alcohol at their location while others next door cannot?
- Learn more about Ohio's wet/dry (local option election) laws and how it can impact your permit application.
What things have to happen before my license can be issued?
- Learn more about the licensing process and what things, like possible notices to institutions or legislative authorities, inspections, wet/dry determinations, or food service requirements, have to happen before your permit can be issued.
What information do liquor permit holders need to know regarding permit premises inspections?
Existing Permit Related Information
Can a permit holder change the size of its permit premises?
- Learn more about the permanent expansion process and how it differs from temporary expansions that are currently allowed under the law when certain conditions are met.
When and how are liquor permits renewed?
- Retail (C and D) liquor permits renew annually and are broken up into three geographic regions. To find out what geographic region you are in review our color coded map.
- All other permits, like A class manufacturing, B class distribution, H class transportation only, S class direct shipping to consumers, and W class warehousing permits renew in October regardless of their Ohio location (or out of state location).
- Our renewal guide is updated each renewal cycle to help identify what permits are currently up for renewal, how the process works, and how to sign-up for the online renewal portal.
- Be advised that we are moving to an all online renewal system in October 2023.
- So sign-up now, even if you are not yet required to renew so that you do not miss out. We will then notify you when its your time to renew.
I got a rejection Order from the Division, what options are available to the affected permit holder?
- Learn what a permit holder can do if they receive a Rejection Order from us.
What do I do if I permanently or temporarily stop operating my business?
- If you are permanently closing your business, you need to submit to us a cancellation notice.
- Read more about the obligations you have by law if you temporarily stop operating your business.
The precinct in which my permit is located was voted DRY. What options do I have?
- If the precinct was voted completely DRY, R.C. 4301.39(H) allows the affected permit holders to (within 29 days from the date the county board of elections certifies the results to us):
- place their permit in safekeeping;
- do nothing and lose their permit privileges; or
- take action with the county board of elections to get a vote back on the ballot for the next election. If this option is chosen, the permit stays the effect of the vote (i.e., stays DRY) pending the next vote.
My business received a notice of hearing regarding a citation for things like selling to an underage person or not having my permit posted and I have questions.
- Please contact the Ohio Liquor Control Commission.
- Understand that the Commission can only give you status, they CANNOT advise you on what you should do, orwhat the penalty may/may not be. They can only describe the process.
- If you have legal questions, you should consult your lawyer.
I owe taxes to the state concerning my liquor permit premises. Who should I contact?
- Please email the Ohio Department of Taxation’s Liquor Group.
- Taxation may also direct you to the Ohio Attorney General's (OAG) Collection Enforcement Section as the OAG usually process past due debts owed to the state, and can help direct you to the right group for issues involving unpaid worker's compensation or unemployment premiums.
- Please note that we do NOT have taxpayer information, including any amounts that may be owed or returns that may need to be filed. You will need to reach out to Taxation directly to resolve any renewal tax issues or to secure a “tax proceed letter” for your transfer application.
What resources are available to help me train my employees on things like checking ID's or how to tell if my staff should stop serving to a patron because they are showing signs of intoxication?
- Contact the Ohio Investigative Unit for the Alcohol Server Knowledge (ASK) training course.
Can a permit holder give away food?
- It depends. The default rule is nothing can be given away, including food, in connection with the sale of alcohol (see R.C. 4301.21).
- However, OAC 4301:1-1-58 has minimal exceptions for providing food to your patrons at no cost. Think of things like nuts or popcorn.
- So while it is okay to put a bowl of nuts or popcorn on the bar for patrons to help themselves to at no cost, having a promotion where you buy a bucket of beer and get a plate of chicken wings free is NOT okay.
Can I sell certain drinks to go?
- Yes, if you meet one of the limited conditions provided for under R.C. 4303.185.
- Keep in mind that:
- carryout only (C Class) permit holders cannot have drinks to go as defined in this law; and
- A meal must be purchased to sell the to go beverage.
- Although a meal is not defined, you should use common sense when determining what is a meal. Also, you may want to consult your personal attorney or law enforcement who enforce this area of law as to what they would define as a meal.
Can I do rebates or sweepstakes?
- Possibly. The default rule is that no thing of value can be given away in the connection with the sale of an alcoholic beverage.
- But OAC 4301:1-1-45 does provide some exceptions. A few things to consider, which is not a complete list, if you are going to do some sort of rebate, sweepstakes, are:
- Nothing can reduce the cost of the alcoholic beverage at the point of sale.
- If doing a contest/sweepstakes, no purchase shall be required;
- If doing a rebate, a purchase shall be required; and
- If doing a rebate, the rebate shall not equal or exceed the retail cost to the consumer.
- So if the wine bottle costs the consumer $20, the rebate cannot be $20 or more because to do so would then be giving away the alcoholic product.
- Also, keep in mind that we do not regulate or advise on the gambling aspect of any promotion.
Temporary Permit Resources
What type of permits are available and what types of activities can be done under each permit?
- View our temporary permit chart that explains the types of temporary permits available and what activity each permit allows.
How do temporary permits interact with DORAs?
- Read through our DORA resource to learn more about DORA's or our Useful Tips to learn about how DORA's interact with temporary permits.
How to apply for temporary permits and what regulations apply?
- Apply online for faster processing and do it at least 30 days in advance of your event
I need help with a question on a temporary event application.
- Please email email@example.com.
How far in advance should I apply for my organization's temporary permit?
- We ask that you apply at least 30 days in advance for several reasons:
- We process a high volume of applications daily, especially in the spring/summer/fall months when outdoor festivals/events are common.
- Many of the temporary applications require us to contact your local county board of elections to determine the wet/dry status of your applied for location. This can take time and we cannot issue the permit until we have the information from them needed to process it.
- Some permits may also require us to notify the local government where the event will take place, which again takes time to get the notice to them AND receive the response prior to issuing the permit.
- Think of it this way, if a liquor permit is vital to your event's success apply early so that if an issue comes up we have time to resolve it.
My organization's temporary permit was issued but the event was cancelled or needs to moved to a different date. What can I do?
- Whatever the reason, cancelling the event outright or moving it to another date, you must notify us of this issue in writing as soon as possible but no later than the start date/time of your event. For example, if your permit was issued on a Monday for an event starting on that Friday, 5pm and lasting through Sunday 5pm, you MUST, to get a full refund or switch your days, notify us as described above no later than that Friday at 5pm.
- If you outright cancel, we will refund you the permit fee in full.
- If you want to move the dates, we can work with you to do that too.
- If you notify us after the event starts, then no refund or moving of dates will be allowed. Thus, if you have your event on Friday and Saturday, but it rains on Sunday such that you couldn't have your event that date, then no refund can be issued since you started your event.
Beer and Wine Resources
How do I register to be a solicitor, supplier, or my labels/products?
- See our Beer and Wine Applications and Registrations webpage.
How do I know what type of license I need to sell a certain type of product?
- Before any alcoholic beverage can be approved for sale in Ohio it MUST be registered with us.
- Review our "Beer & Wine Distributors, including the Brand Names that they distribute, and their Distribution Territories" (excel download) to see the products approved for sale in Ohio. Within this chart, we classified the type of product, under "Column E, Class," as either:
- Class 1 or 2 Wine;
- Mixed Beverage;
- Vermouth; or
- Sparkling wine
- To sell beer, you need either a C-1, D-1, or D-5 (variation like a D-5a, b, j, l included).
- To sell the other listed product classes, you need either a C-2, D-2, or D-5 (variation included).
- To sell high-proof spirits, see if the product is actively listed with us.
- If it is registered you need either a D-3 or D-5 (variation included) to sell the product and you must purchase it through your assigned agency store. You cannot buy product from another state and sell it in Ohio.
- If it is not registered with us, you cannot sell the product in Ohio.
What is a DORA and what steps are needed to create it?
View our DORA information, including steps, legal requirements, and other considerations.
How are Community Entertainment Districts created?
- View our CED guide for information, including how to establish a CED.
What are Revitalization Districts and how is one created?
- Our RD guide has the information you need.
How can the legislative authority change/update its address with us or for payments?
- View our guide to learn more about ways to keep an address current.
What resources are available to local governments when presented with a problem liquor establishment.
- Learn more about the objection process and other tools.
What qualifies as a major event and how does it work?
- Only certain events qualify for a Major Event Waiver and the process starts locally.
General Liquor Permit Questions
Can I bring alcohol purchased elsewhere into Ohio for personal use?
- Per R.C. 4301.20(L), Ohio allows residents and any member of the armed forces of the United State 21 or older to bring in limited amounts of alcohol for personal use and not resale. For more information, see the "Note for Ohio Consumers" tab on our Direct Shipping to Retail Consumers Guide.
I have a food truck, can I get a liquor permit?
- Ohio law does not have mobile liquor permits.
My business does NOT have a liquor permit, can I let people bring in their own alcohol to consume it?
- BYOB, as it is often called, is illegal in Ohio with very limited exceptions. Violations of Ohio's open container laws or selling alcohol without a permit are NOT regulated by us. Instead, local law enforcement or the Ohio Investigative Unit has criminal law enforcement authority over these issues. For more information on BYOB and how it works you can review OIU's reference material.
Areas of Liquor that are regulated elsewhere or not regulated at all.
- R.C. 2915 and OAC 4301:1-1-53 are gambling areas related to liquor. However, we do not regulate gambling. Gambling questions should be directed to either the Ohio Investigative Unit or the Charitable Law Section of the Ohio Attorney General's Office.
Can a parent have their child sit with them in the bar area?
- There is no law that explicitly prohibits those underage from sitting within an area where alcohol is served. That said, it may be best practice to limit where underage persons can be within your premises, including the hours during which they can be present (i.e., over 25 after 10 pm). Again, this is a business decision that you should consult about with your personal attorney.
Can I buy a larger size bottle of an alcoholic beverage and pour the contents into a smaller size bottle for serving purposes?
- No, Ohio does not allow what is commonly called, "refilling." So you cannot take product from one bottle and pour it into another, regardless of size. See R.C. 4301.68 and OAC 4301:1-1-47(A)
- You cannot also refill the bottle, even if the same size. In other words, the contents of the bottle should be that which was originally placed in it by the manufacturer.
- For example, you cannot have a bottle that is labeled as X product, let's say a vodka, and fill it with another manufacturer's vodka that may cost less.
- Not only does this violate the above provisions, but it is dishonest to the customers since they think they are buying one product but in reality are getting served another brand.
- R.C. 4301.68 also does not allow you to dilute or water down the product that you are serving to customers.
I have a question that I need answered and it was not addressed above.
- Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will work to respond to your question as quickly as we can. Please note that we cannot offer legal advice on your business.