New Liquor License

Applicants for new liquor licenses and existing licensees who seek to transfer a license to a new location or owner must complete a Colorado liquor retail license application. The application is submitted through the Department of Excise and Licenses.

How to Submit an Application

There are several ways to submit a new or renewal application to the Department of Excise and Licenses. If renewing, include your business file number.

  1. All license applications not available online can be submitted by email to EXLSubmit@denvergov.org. When applying, attach all documents to one email. Visit the email application process page for more information.
  2. You can mail your application with fees to:

City and County of Denver
Department of Excise and Licenses
201 W. Colfax Ave., Dept. 206
Denver, CO 80202

Make checks payable to: Manager of Finance

3. You can pay fees online or by phone after the application has been submitted. You will receive an invoice and you can pay virtually. Visit the online payment process page for more information.

For questions, email licenses@denvergov.org or call 311.

How to Get a Liquor License

Step 2: Zone use permit

A zone use permit is required before submitting a liquor application.

A zone use permit grant the applicant/owner of a lot, building, or structure permission for the requested use of the land. "Use" can be defined as any activity, occupation, business or operation in a building or on a lot/tract of land.

Use internet resources to plan before you lease or buy property and before you apply for a business license.  Follow the steps below to learn more about the approved zone uses for the address for your business.  Start on the find your zoning page.

  1. Enter the desired address.  Click Search.
  2. Note the zone district.
  3. Click on the to expand for more information. 
  4. Note the neighborhood context.
  5. Click on the link for the zoning code or in former chapter 59.
  6. Click on the article number for the neighborhood context noted above.
  7. Open the document and scroll to the "Use" tables at the bottom of the document.
  8. Find the "Use" category in the left column and the zone district in the columns to the right.
  9. The code in the intersecting square represents the permitted use.  (There is a key to the codes at the top of every page.)

The zone use permit must be approved and issued by the zoning department.  Learn more about the Denver Zoning Code or visit the Zoning Office.


Applying for a zone use permit

Email

developmentservices@denvergov.org

Zoning contact information

Step 3: Required documents

Application forms and business entity documents are required for the applications process. All documents must be submitted in duplicate – one for the City and County of Denver and the original for the state of Colorado. Documents must be printed in black ink or typewritten. Photocopies are accepted.

 All documents should be submitted to the Department of Excise and Licenses.

 Application documents

  • Make sure no staples are in the documents.
  • Colorado liquor retail license application(PDF, 294KB)  (The Colorado application also serves as the City and County of Denver's application)
  • Tax check authorization, waiver, and request to release information(PDF, 105KB)
  • City tax license
  • State tax license
  • Right of possession documents (lease or deed). The lease must be valid for at least 90 days from the date the application is submitted.
  • The floor plan drawing is to be on paper that is 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches with dimensions included.  The diagram does not have to be to scale, but must reflect the area to be licensed, including depictions of the following:
    • Exterior areas showing control of the licensed premises (fences, walls, doors, gates, etc.)
    • A diagram for each floor plan, outlined in red to indicate the boundary (including external and internal walls, doors, fences, gates, and the like). The diagram must identify the kitchen area if the applicant is applying for a hotel and restaurant class liquor license.  The diagram of the kitchen must include the range, refrigerator, sinks, dishwashers, and other industrial equipment.
    • Location of the proposed licensed premises designating where alcohol will be sold, served, stored, distributed or consumed.
    • One diagram must have the licensed liquor area outlined in red.
    • One diagram must have the licensed liquor area outline in black.
  • If the building does not exist at the time the license is applied for, the applicant must submit an architect's drawing to be constructed.
  • A list of equipment if the applicant is applying for a tavern class liquor license and the proposed premises does not have a kitchen area.
  • Individual history form(PDF, 155KB) (required for each owner that owns 10% or more of the business) 
  • Cabaret license application(PDF, 198KB) if any form of entertainment is being offered. 

Fingerprints for the following:

Additional documentation by form of business entity

Corporate applicants

  • Articles of incorporation
  • A current certificate of good standing
  • A certificate of authorization (if applicant is a foreign corporation)
  • A list of all officers and directors and members and stockholders of the parent corporation who own 10% or more of the applicant's entity.  (The list must designate one person as the "principal officer.")
  • A trade name certificate, if applicable
  • Current corporate minutes authorizing application for a liquor and/or cabaret license

 Limited liability company applicants

  • Articles of organization
  • A current certificate of good standing
  • Operating agreement
  • A certificate of authority (if the applicant is a foreign company)
  • A trade name certificate, if applicable
  • Identification of its licensed premises manager

Sole proprietorship applicants

  • Trade name affidavit, if applicable

 

Step 4: Fees

Application fee:

State - $1,100 made payable to the Colorado Department of Revenue plus liquor license fees

State - $1,200 for concurrent review plus liquor license fees

State - $1,100 for transfer of ownership plus liquor license fees

City -   $1,000 plus other fees assigned at time of application

Colorado Bureau of Investigation fingerprinting:  $38.50 per person for anyone who owns at least 10% of the business entity.

License fees will be calculated at the time the application is submitted to the City.


Step 5: Public hearing

  • A public hearing is scheduled once all other requirements are complete
  • An area is designated around the proposed location from where residents and business owners/managers can sign petitions and testify at the public hearing
  • A sign is posted at the premises of the proposed liquor license for at least 20 days before the hearing. 
  • The posting sign must follow these guidelines:
    • Be white, sturdy, and measure 22 inches wide by 26 inches high with letters not less than 1 inch high
    • Indicate the type of license, the date and time of the hearing, the name and address of the licensee and any partners or officers of the licensee
    • Be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises so it is visible and legible
    • Contain a map of the designated area
    • Contents to be included on the posting sign will be established by the Department of Excise and Licenses.
  • Registered neighborhood organizations, public newspapers, the City Council and the police district are notified of the application and public hearing
  • Petitions are circulated in support and against the proposed liquor license.  Read more about petitions(PDF, 54KB).  
  • Public hearing is held
  • Final decision is issued by the director of Excise and Licenses


Read more about public hearings


Step 6: Required inspections

  • Zoning Business License Inspection (720) 913-1311
  • Building Business License Inspection (720) 913-1311
  • Denver Fire Department (720) 913-3409
  • Department of Public Health and Environment (720) 913-1311
  • Department of Excise and Licenses (720) 913-1311 (Last inspection - Schedule when all other inspections have been passed.)

 

Step 7: Get your license

Notify the Department of Excise and Licenses, at licenses@denvergov.org, that you would like your license emailed to you when all of the steps below have been completed.  

  1. All documents required for the license are complete and submitted to the office.
  2. The background check, if applicable, is accepted and approved.
  3. Fees are paid in full.
  4. All required inspections, if applicable, are passed.
  5. All approvals are given by the state and local offices.

You should stay in touch with the Department of Excise and Licenses during the application process as each step can vary from the general steps described herein depending on your particular circumstances.