Written by attorney Edward William Hastie III

How Long Does It Take to Transfer a Liquor Permit in Ohio?

Common question: "How long will it take for my Ohio Liquor Permit to transfer?".

Normally a permit transfer will take at least 30-90 days, depending on several factors. It can be done quicker, however, a faster transfer takes a confluence of events not always under the attorney's (or the client's) control.

This post is intended to give you an overview of the permit transfer process, give you tips on how you can make your transfer go smoothly, and let you know about potential pitfalls.

Step 1: Filing

Under Ohio Law a number of events are triggered once a liquor permit transfer application is filed.

First, the application must be keyed into the system by the Ohio Division of Liquor Control ("ODLC"). This generally takes 24-48 hours. It's imperative for your attorney to ensure the initial application is properly executed. One small mistake and the application will be rejected; and valuable time will be lost.

Step 2: Governmental Notification

Next, ODLC generates a number of notices for local government agencies required to be made aware of a pending permit.

The city council is given 30 days from reciept of the notice to either object or waive objection. Most city councils, particularly in the larger cities, take the entire time alloted to send back the notice. Additionally, the county board of elections is required to verify the wet/dry status of the proposed transferee's location. This process can take a few weeks. The complete notification process is spelled out in O.R.C. Sec 4303.26(A).

To save time, your liquor attorney will want to monitor to ensure the notices are sent out immediately after the application is keyed in. Additionally, ODLC is required to notify any church, school, library, or public park within 500 feet of the proposed location. These locations also have 30 days to object. Generally, ODLC is not even aware of these institutions until after an initial inspection has been completed.

During the fastest transfers, attorneys are in constant contact with local government agencies to ensure the a City's review was completed quickly. Without a mutual respect between a city and your attorney, the transfer can take much longer.

Step 3: Tax Review

Under Ohio Law, the Ohio Department of Taxation ("OTAX") must sign off on the liquor permit transfer by ensuring all sales and withholding taxes have been paid by the seller. OTAX has twenty days to even notify the parties of any outstanding delinquencies. At this point, the tax situation must be resolved. Sometimes the problem is as simple as paying some outstanding late fees.

Other times, multiple returns must be filed with accompanying documentation. A transfer is generally much quicker if there are little to no tax issues. Our fastest transfers have no outstanding taxes. An effective Ohio liquor lawyer will conduct extensive due diligence prior to the transfer even being filed so you can advised of the pitfalls with a particular permit.

Your attorney should have extensive experience in expeditiously resolving tax problems when they do arise. This knowledge is essential to effectively and quickly transfering a liquor permit.

Step 4: Documentation

An Ohio liquor permit transfer is a document intensive endeavor. A transfer requires the following documentation to be filed with the ODLC: Officer/Shareholder Disclosure, an executed lease or Summary of Tenancy Rights, the purchase agreement or a summary of the deal, financial verification of the funds used to set-up and purchase the business, and Personal History forms for all owners and officers.

Upon receipt, the ODLC will process the documents and notify the parties of any additional documentation needed. Your liquor attorney should be able to anticipate the documentation needed to effectuate your Ohio liquor permit transfer. An Ohio background check is also required.

If you are in Columbus, I recommend Fast Fingerprints on Bethel Road. The background check process is one of the major sticking points in any transfer.

Step 5: Final Inspection

One step remains once all the objections are waived, taxes are paid and all documentation is delivered and processed: final inspection.

The Ohio Division of Liquor Control has a laundry list of requirements for any building seeking to house an Ohio liquor permit. Your attorney should be knowledgeable of building requirements and be able to guide you through the process so your final inspection is a breeze.

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