Retail Licensing Information

One of the primary responsibilities of the Licensing Division is to license retail entities that sell beer, wine, and spirits in Michigan. The Licensing Division operates primarily from the downtown Lansing office in Constitution Hall. You may call the Licensing Division, toll-free, at 866-813-0011.


Informational Sheets Regarding Common Retail Licensing Requests


Retail Licenses and Permits

Temporary Permits

Special Licenses

License Renewal

Liability Insurance

Escrowed Licenses

How long will it take to process my application for a new liquor license, to transfer an existing liquor license, or to transfer interest in a liquor license?

Click here for a general timeline of the process for retail licenses.  You may also check the status of your request by clicking this link to the Commission’s request status page.


What documents and information do I need to provide with my initial application for a new liquor license, to transfer an existing liquor license, or to transfer interest in a liquor license?

Click here for a checklist of items necessary to submit with your application.


What documents and information will I need to provide to the Enforcement Division during the investigation of my application?

The Enforcement Division will send you a letter requesting that you bring a number of items to your face-to-face meeting with an investigator.  Examples of items that may be requested include photographic identification (e.g. driver’s license, passport, state identification card), any immigration-related documentation, if applicable, copies of original income tax returns for the past three years (forms 1040 and 1040a, Schedule C, and W-2 withholding statements), bank books (savings and checking), savings bonds, other securities, any other financial documents for funds being used in the transaction, the fully executed purchase agreement and any addendums, attachments, or amendments (for license transfers), the property document for the proposed licensed premises, a diagram of the business premises, and a copy of a menu (for businesses requiring a full-service kitchen).


What happens after the Commission makes a decision on my application for a new liquor license, to transfer an existing liquor license, or to transfer interest in a liquor license?

Click here for a general description of what to expect when the Commission makes a decision on you request.


May I request a conditional license with my request to transfer ownership of an existing license or for a new Specially Designated Merchant license?

If you have applied to transfer ownership of an existing retail license, you may request a conditional license that will allow you to operate the business conditionally under the same license, permits, and permissions as the current licensee before the Commission considers the permanent transfer of the license to you.  A conditional license is not allowed for a request involving a transfer of the location of a retail license.  If you have requested any new permits or permissions in addition to the transfer of the existing license and permits, the Commission will consider those when it considers the transfer of the license, but will not issue them with the conditional license.

If you have applied for a new Specially Designated Merchant license, you may request a conditional license that will allow you to operate the business conditionally before the Commission considers your request for a new Specially Designated Merchant license.  If you have requested any new permits or permissions in addition to the request for a new Specially Designated Merchant license, the Commission will consider those when it considers the approval of the license, but will not issue them with the conditional license.  However, if you have requested permission for motor vehicle fuel pumps, the Commission may issue this permission with the conditional license.

Conditional licenses are valid for one (1) year from the date they are issued and cannot be renewed.

To request a conditional license in conjunction with your request to transfer ownership of an existing license, you must complete form LCC-3021, or for a new Specially Designated Merchant license you must complete form LCC-3022.  You must pay a $300.00 conditional license fee, provide Proof of Financial Responsibility (liability insurance), and provide a copy of an executed property document, in addition to the documents you submitted for the license transfer request or new Specially Designated Merchant license.


How are quotas for liquor licenses determined?

In cities, incorporated villages, or townships, only one (1) Specially Designated Distributor (SDD) license shall be issued by the Commission for every 3,000 of population, or fraction thereof.  The quota requirement may be waived at the discretion of the commission if there is no Specially Designated Distributor licensee within 2 miles, measured along the nearest traffic route, of the applicant (MCL 436.1533).

In cities, incorporated villages, or townships, only (1) public on-premises license (A-Hotel, B-Hotel, Class C, or Tavern license) shall be issued by the Commission for every 1,500 of population, or major fraction thereof (MCL 436.1531).


May a license be transferred from one location to another?

Off-Premises License Location Transfers

The location of a Specially Designated Distributor (SDD) license may be transferred within a local unit of government or between local units of government in the same county, unless another SDD licensed business already exists within 2,640 feet (1/2 mile) of the proposed location.  Pursuant to administrative rule R 436.1133, the Commission may waive the rule under certain circumstances:

(a) If the existing Specially Designated Distributor has purchased less than $10,000.00 in spirits from the commission during the last full calendar year.

(b) If the existing Specially Designated Distributor has a B-hotel or A-hotel license.

(c) If the proposed location and the existing Specially Designated Distributor's licensed establishment are separated by a major thoroughfare of not less than 4 lanes of traffic.

(d) If the proposed licensed establishment is located in a neighborhood shopping center which does not have an existing Specially Designated Distributor’s licensed establishment and if the proposed licensed establishment is located not less than 1,000 feet from any existing Specially Designated Distributor's licensed establishment. The method of measurement shall be as prescribed in section 503 of 1998 PA 58, MCL 436.1503.

(e) If an existing Specially Designated Distributor licensee is located within 2,640 feet of 1 or more existing Specially Designated Distributor licensees and requests a transfer of location, which location is within 2,640 feet of the same existing Specially Designated Distributor licensee or licensees, upon a showing of good cause by the licensee who is requesting the transfer of location.

Resort Specially Designated Distributor licenses issued under MCL 436.1531(5) cannot be transferred to a different location.

On-Premises License Location Transfers

The location of an on-premises license (Class C, Tavern, B-Hotel, or A-Hotel) may be transferred within a local unit of government or between local units of government in the same county.  Licenses may only be transferred between governmental units if they are in escrow.  On-premises resort licenses issued under MCL 436.1531(3) and (4) and on-premises licenses issued under the law for specific locations or purposes may not be transferred from one location to another.  On-premises resort licenses issued under MCL 436.1531(2) may be transferred anywhere within the state.  The Commission must count a transferred license against the quota of the local governmental unit originally issuing the license.

Church and School Proximity for Location Transfers

A request to transfer the location of an SDD license or on-premises license may be denied if the proposed location is within 500 feet of a church or school.  The Commission may waive the church/school provision if the church or school does not file an objection to the proposed license.  If the church or school does file an objection, the Commission shall hold a hearing before making a decision on the issuance of the license. (MCL 436.1503)


What are the legal hours for selling or serving alcohol?

The legal hours for selling or serving alcohol are 7:00 A.M. to 2:00 A.M., Monday through Saturday.

Sunday sales of beer and wine (off-premises with a Specially Designated Merchant license and on-premises with a Tavern or A-Hotel license) may only occur between 12:00 Noon and 2:00 A.M., unless a Sunday Sales Permit (A.M.) is obtained.  The Sunday Sales Permit (A.M.) permit allows for the sale of beer and wine between 7:00 A.M. and 12:00 Noon.

Sunday sales of beer, wine, and spirits (off-premises with a Specially Designated Distributor license and on-premises with a Class C or B-Hotel license) may only occur if Sunday Sales Permits are obtained.  A Sunday Sales Permit (A.M.) allows for the sale of beer, wine, liquor, and spirits between 7:00 A.M. and 12:00 Noon and a Sunday Sales Permit (P.M.) allows for the sale of beer, wine, and spirits from 12:00 Noon and 2:00 A.M.

A licensee shall not sell at retail, alcoholic liquor between the hours of 11:59 P.M. on December 24 and 12:00 Noon on December 25.

A local unit of government, by resolution or ordinance, may prohibit the sale of alcoholic liquor on a legal holiday, primary election day, general election day, municipal election day, between the hours of 7:00 A.M. and 12:00 Noon on Sunday, or between the hours of 7 a.m. on Sunday and 2:00 A.M. on Monday.


How do I obtain a temporary outdoor service permit for an event at my business?

You must complete the Application for Temporary Authorization form (LC-146), submit a $70.00 inspection fee, provide a diagram of the area of the temporary outdoor service area, and provide verification of approval of local law enforcement.  If the temporary outdoor service area is located on municipal property, you must obtain approval from the local unit of government for the temporary outdoor service area to be located on municipal property.  If the temporary outdoor service area is located on someone else’s property, you must provide documentation from the property owner that demonstrates that you have the right to operate on the property.


How many temporary permits may I obtain in a year?

On-premises licensing rules allow the Commission to issue up to twelve (12) daily temporary dance, entertainment, or dance-entertainment permits, specific purpose permits, and temporary outdoor service permits to a licensee each calendar year upon written request of the licensee.  For example, if a licensee requests temporary outdoor service for an event that occurs over two (2) days of a weekend, the two (2) temporary permits issued would count against the total of twelve (12) allowed each year.


Do I need local law enforcement approval for a temporary permit?

Approval of the chief law enforcement officer who has jurisdiction within your local unit of government is required for a temporary specific purpose permit or temporary outdoor service permit.  Law enforcement approval is not required for temporary dance permit, entertainment permit, or dance-entertainment permits.


May I request a temporary permit in conjunction with my conditional license?

No requests for temporary permits or permissions of any kind will be granted to the conditional licensee.


What is a special license?

A Special License is a contract between the Commission and the special licensee granting authority to sell beer, wine, mixed spirit drink, or spirits at retail for consumption on the premises only.  A Special License may also be obtained that allows an organization to auction wine that has been donated to it.

Only a bona fide nonprofit organization may request a Special License.  Individuals may not request a Special License.

A Special License is good for one day. An organization can obtain up to twelve (12) Special Licenses per year after completing the Special License Application and receiving approval from the Commission. All profits derived from the sale of alcoholic liquor must go to the organization itself and not to any individual.

Local law enforcement approval is required for a Special License - and the Commission requires at least ten (10) working days to process the Special License Application.


When are renewal applications mailed?

Renewal applications are mailed by the middle of March each year.  Applications are sent to the business address, unless a different mailing address is on file.


I obtained my license in January, do I still need to renew my license by May 1 and are the fees prorated?

All licenses are effective May 1 through April 30 of every year, regardless of when the license is obtained. Pursuant to MCL 436.1525(2), the fees for the various types of licenses shall not be prorated for a portion of the effective period of the license.


Do I have to provide liquor liability insurance or an acceptable alternative before I am granted a retail liquor license in Michigan?

Yes. See MCL 436.1803 or the Proof of Financial Responsibility form (LC-95) available on the MLCC website by clicking here.


Must a Proof of Financial Responsibility form be submitted each year?

Once a Proof of Financial Responsibility form has been accepted and placed on file with the Commission, it is considered to be continuous until canceled; therefore, unless a Notice of Cancellation or Termination is received in the Licensing Division of the MLCC, a new proof is not required. However, a new proof is required every time a policy number or carrier changes.


How to I place my license in escrow?

Return your license and any separate permit documents to the Lansing office of the Commission along with a completed form LCC-3014. A licensee does not need to maintain Proof of Financial Responsibility for a license that remains in escrow.


How do I have my license released from escrow?

Submit a written request to the Commission, asking that your license be released from escrow.  Depending on the specific factors (how long the license has been in escrow, whether it needs to be renewed, whether we have an active proof of financial responsibility on file, whether a final inspection is needed, etc.), either the license will be sent to you - or you will be provided with instructions as to what needs to be accomplished prior to release of the license.


How long may I leave my license in escrow?

A license may remain in escrow for five (5) years. The Commission may extend the time limit for an escrowed license past five years under certain circumstances, as defined under Administrative Rule R 436.1107(2).


Must I pay annual renewal fees for my escrowed license?

Yes, a license held in escrow shall be renewed in the same manner as an active license, including payment of all required license fees, each year by April 30.