Special event liquor permit

Online training videos are available for special event liquor applications.

 

Special event liquor permits allow for the sale by the drink only of malt, vinous and spirituous liquor, or fermented malt beverages, on premises that do not hold a liquor license or is to be sold by a qualifying organization or club or arts liquor-licensed premises.

Qualifying organizations include:

  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Social, fraternal, patriotic, political or athletic in nature (not organized for a monetary gain)
  • State agencies
  • The Colorado Wine Industry Development Board
  • An instrumentality of a municipality or country
  • Political candidate who has filed necessary reports and statements with the Colorado Secretary of State or the Denver Clerk and Recorder

 

 Basic information

How to access the online application

You can access the online application by clicking on the blue buttons on the right side of this page.

A special event liquor permit applicant can check the status of an application through the online application portal. Download the Application Status Check-In Guide(PDF, 457KB) for step-by-step instructions.

We recommend using Google Chrome or Safari browsers to complete the application.

 

When to apply for a special event liquor permit

Special event liquor permits should be applied for at least 30 days before the event. This will ensure Excise and Licenses has plenty of time to process the application and the applicant time to post notice about the event.

How to apply for a special event liquor permit

Step 1: When special event liquor permit is required

By way of example, special event liquor permits are required when a qualifying organization or political candidate:

  • Has an event and wants to sell alcohol
  • Has an event that is open to the public and alcohol is available
  • Has an event where there is a cash bar
  • Has a public event where donations are requested
  • Has a public event where admission fees are required

Step 2: Limitations

  • Sandwiches or food snacks must always be available when alcohol is being sold.
  • A special event liquor permit cannot be issued to the same applicant for more than 15 days in a calendar year.

Step 3a: Zone use permit might be required

A zone use permit might be required when submitting a special event liquor permit application to Excise and Licenses. 

  • A zone use permit is a document granting 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.

Zone use permit is not required for events held in public parks/buildings and on public streets or alleys

  • Zone use permits are not required for events in city parks and recreation centers as well as other Denver Parks and Recreation facilities, Denver International Airport, and Denver Arts and Venues facilities, or for events in the public right-of-way (public streets/alleys).
  • Events that are scheduled in a public park or street should be coordinated through the Office of Special Events. OSE will work with the applicant and appropriate city agencies to ensure the event checklist is tailored to address the city’s licensing and permitting concerns.

Events inside a building already zoned for assembly

  • For events inside a building on private property, a zone use permit is required to ensure the building is appropriately zoned and permitted to host a public assembly event. Click here for a list of zoning uses where events for public assembly are allowed as part of the primary permitted use.
  • Applicants can request a copy of the most current zone use permit for the subject building or space by emailing zoning.review@denvergov.org. Be sure to include the property address. The most current zone use permit can be submitted for multiple events and does not need to be updated unless the zoning use has changed since the permit was issued.  

Events in a building or outdoors (including parking lots) not zoned for assembly

  • For events in a building or outdoors where the subject building or land is not currently permitted by zoning for public assembly events, applicants must apply for and receive a special event temporary zoning use permit.

Step 3b: Fire permit might be required

Determine if you need a fire safety permit

The applicant might need to secure a fire safety permit. To determine if you need a fire safety permit, review the special event guidelines document(PDF, 219KB).

After reading the document and you decide yes, you need a fire safety permit based on the guidelines, follow these instructions:

After reviewing this document and you determine you need a fire safety permit, submit that application online to the Denver Fire Department. This document(PDF, 3MB) will guide you through that online application process. Once your fire safety permit has been approved, you will receive the permit via email. You will use that permit to apply for the special event liquor permit.

After reading the document and you decide no, you do not need a fire safety permit based on the guidelines, follow these instructions:

After reviewing the document and you determine you do not need a fire safety permit, email SpecialEventsDFD@denvergov.org at the Denver Fire Department. The email should state you are requesting an exception letter for the fire safety permit for your special event liquor permit. State why you are requesting the exception letter based on the guidelines you read in the guideline document(PDF, 219KB). State the date, time and location of the event. Give as much detail about the event as possible. The Denver Fire Department will determine if a permit is needed for the liquor special event. If no permit is required, it will send the applicant a letter indicating such. It can be submitted in lieu of the fire permit with the special event liquor permit application to Excise and Licenses. If the Denver Fire Department determines a permit is required, the applicant must submit it along with the special event liquor permit application to Excise and Licenses.

Step 4: Application process

Before beginning your online application, take these actions:
  1. Start gathering the required documents listed in the next section. Make sure the documents are filled out and uploaded to your computer. Some documents could take several days to obtain.
  2. When entering your event date and time information, use military time.
  3. Have a bank account, Mastercard, Visa, or Discover card to pay online.
  4. Start your application.

Excise and Licenses will strive to process any application for a special event liquor permit within seven business days. The application review process could take longer if the application is found to be incomplete.

The application process for a special event liquor permit is as follows:

  1. An application is submitted online. All required documents must be uploaded before the application is submitted.
  2. Excise and Licenses, along with the Denver Fire Department, will review the application and supporting documents for completeness. If the application is found to be incomplete, a "notice of deficiency" email will be sent to the applicant allowing 14 days for corrections (or as noted in notification).
  3. If the applicant is found to be eligible for licensing, a copy of the special event liquor permit will be emailed to the applicant.
  4. The permit must always be posted when the event is being held.

Step 5: Required documents

Application forms and business entity documents are required for the applications process. Documents must be printed in black ink or typewritten. Photocopies are accepted. 

All documents are submitted through the online process to the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses. 

Step 6: Fees

Application fee: $100

Licensing fee per day:

  •  Malt, Vinous, and Spirituous:  $25 per day
  •  Fermented Malt Beverage:  $10 per day

          All credit cards are accepted except for American Express.

Step 7: Review of application forms and documents

  • The Department will review application forms and accompanying documents for accuracy and completeness. 
  • The Department will determine if the premises is already licensed and, if so, whether any exclusions apply.

 

Step 8: Approval

  • The Department of Excise and Licenses will be the final approver for all special event liquor permits. We no longer send to the state for its approval.
  • If the application is approved, once the posting for the special event liquor permit has been passed, the permit will be emailed to the applicant.

 

Step 9: Obligations of the special event liquor permit holder

  • The special event liquor permit licensee must purchase liquor to be served and/or sold at the event only from a licensed wholesaler or a licensed retail liquor store.
  • A special event liquor permit is authorized only for the benefit of the nonprofit organization or political candidate who holds the permit. Proceeds from the event must benefit the nonprofit organization or the political candidate.
  • Holders of a special event liquor permit can employ event managers to handle the event for a fee that reasonably compensates their work. The fee cannot be the revenues from the event.
  • The director can require examination of the books and records of a special event to ensure compliance with permit obligations.