The Licensing Process

LCB Receives Application
Once you have submitted your application to Business Licensing Services, your liquor license application will be forwarded to our agency for processing.


Application Assigned to Licensing Specialist
A Licensing Specialist will contact you within one week of receiving your application. Your Licensing Specialist will guide you through the application process and explain the necessary documentation required for your application. If you have any questions throughout the process, please contact your Licensing Specialist directly via email or phone. 


Telephone Interview
The Licensing Specialist will first schedule a telephone interview to better understand your business plans. The Licensing Specialist will ask for information about your business partners, proposed location, and discuss licensing requirements specific to your business plans.


Required Documents
After understanding your business plans, the Licensing Specialist will request documents relating to the startup of your business, such as:

  • Business structure
  • Financing/start-up costs*
  • Lease or purchase agreements*
  • Floor plans
  • Personal/criminal history statement
  • Public Posting Notification

Please note: It is not required to have finalized leases, purchase agreements or financial agreements at the time of application. However, signed and finalized documents will be necessary prior to issuing your license.


Local Notifications
While you're working on providing the necessary documents requested by your Licensing Specialist, WSLCB will email out the following notifications:

  • Local Authority Notification
    State law requires the WSLCB to notify the local authority (i.e. mayor or county commission) of the city or county your business is located in that you have applied for a liquor license.

    The local authority has 20 days to respond to the notification. If your business is located in an alcohol impact area, the local authority has 60 days to respond.

  • Nearby Churches and Schools Notification
    The WSLCB will research the neighborhood for nearby public and private schools and churches. If there are any within 500 feet of your business, they will be notified and have the chance to support or object to your application.


Document Submittal and Review
Once you submitted the required documents, your Licensing Specialist will review the documents to ensure your application meets all licensing requirements. If your Licensing Specialist has any questions or concerns, they will contact you for additional documentation or clarification.


Personal/Criminal History Statement
If you do not currently have a license with the WSLCB, you are required to complete a Personal/Criminal History Statement. The statement requires you to provide all criminal history details, including the date, location, and the outcome of each charge. This includes charges that were dismissed, deferred, changed, and those that happened while you were a juvenile.

Based on state law, a point system decides if an applicant qualifies for a license. If an applicant receives eight or more points, the applicant has the opportunity to provide a statement explaining the circumstances of the criminal charges. The application and the statement will be reviewed by a licensing manager for a decision. 

The point system is as follows:

Description Time Period During Which Points Will Be Assigned  Points Assigned
Felony conviction  10 years  12 points
Gross misdemeanor conviction  3 years  5 points
Misdemeanor conviction  3 years  4 points
Currently under federal or state supervision for a felony conviction  n/a  8 points
Nondisclosure of any of the above on the Personal/Criminal History Statement  n/a  4 points for each

WAC 314-07-040

*Please note: many publicly available criminal background checks, such as the Washington State Patrol’s WATCH report, may not include all criminal history. It is recommended not to solely use this program to assist in filling out the Personal/Criminal History Statement. Most often, the most accurate record you can access for assistance is available at your local county court house. 


Online Briefing and Final Inspection
Depending on the type of license you have applied for, you will need to complete a briefing and inspection of the premises.

  • Retail Licenses
    The Licensing Specialist will request that you complete an online briefing of liquor laws and submit photos of the premises.
  • Non-Retail Licenses
    The Licensing Specialist will provide you with information to schedule an on-site briefing of liquor laws and final inspection with your local WSLCB Enforcement Officer. 


License Decision
If your complete documentation has been received and approved by the WSLCB and there are no outstanding issues, you will receive an approval letter that serves as your 30-day liquor license until you receive your Master Business License with the liquor endorsement from Business Licensing Services.



Applying for a License                                       After Licensure >


For more information on the licensing process see our Retail Liquor License Guide.


Printer-friendly version