How to Get a Liquor License in Michigan

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Obtaining a liquor license in any state can be a lengthy and somewhat costly process. Each state has its own licensing body and most of them have different names. There are liquor authorities, liquor boards, liquor controls and so on. In Michigan, the Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) is the licensing body for the state.

Determine the type of license you would like to apply for. First-time applicants who own a business will likely be applying for an on-premises or off-premises license. Some special licenses may be issued for hospital or military installations for purchase of liquor from a state store at a discount. Vendors and salespeople would apply for another type of license. Vendors must obtain a license for each vendor they represent.

Read More: If I Have DUI Can I Obtain a Liquor License?

Download the appropriate licensing application forms online. They're available in PDF format and are printable. All types of permit and license application are available including on-premises allowance to award high value prizes, special license application and informative documents to help you in the process. The licensing division of MLCC is in their Lansing offices. They can be reached toll-free at 1-866-813-0011.

Expect to pay $250 for the Retail Liquor Dealer Tax Stamp. It must be renewed annually or penalties will be issued. Any business selling alcohol is required to have it. Contact the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau at 1-800-937-8864.

Fill out the Application for Application for New Licenses, or Application of Buyers for Transfer of Ownership or Interest in License. It is available in PDF format online. You can fill it out on your PC and email or print and mail. It's only two pages, but you will need to know the lingo, so be sure to download supporting documents to help decipher what you need to fill out.

Check that you meet all the requirements for obtaining a liquor license. For example, you must not have ever been convicted of a felony or any crime involving the excessive use of alcohol.


  • Michigan requires server training for on-premises licensees and some retail providers, especially those with some violations. License holders have 180 days to comply with the training requirement. You will receive information about server training when you obtain your license. Imported liquor, especially from Indiana, has been problematic in Michigan. It is illegal to import. The law is enforced by MLCC and Michigan State Police. "Required attendance to participate in an event is considered valuable consideration," according to the MLCC. This covers gambling tournaments and other functions. Gambling is illegal and the MLCC may revoke a license or otherwise penalize any business that breaks the law. Internet gambling and gambling machines are also illegal. Sale of an existing license needs to be approved by MLCC first. If you pay for a license without MLCC knowledge, you could lose your investment. Narcotics and narcotics paraphenalia found on licensee premises will result in legal action by the MLCC. It is illegal.


  • Keeping a license once you've been granted one is another process entirely. Michigan Liquor Control Commission has many regulations you must follow to make sure their license is not revoked. Once you are operating, be sure to report problems with liquor and beer, like exploding beer bottles from a distributor, to the MLCC. They track problems with distributed alcohol when problems like this arise.