Special Event Liquor Permit

Online Training Videos are available for Special Event Liquor applications.

What is a Special Event Liquor Permit?

A Special Event Liquor Permit must be applied for 30 days in advance of your event, no exceptions

Special event liquor permits 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:

  • Non profit 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-hand side of this page.

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

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

When to apply for a special event liquor permit

We recommend that special event liquor permits are applied for at least 30 days before the event. This will ensure that Excise and Licenses has plenty of time to process the application and the applicant has plenty of time to post notice regarding the event.


How to Apply for a Special Event Liquor Permit

Step 1: When Special Event 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 beverages
  • Has an event that is open to the public and alcohol beverages are 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 be available at all times that alcohol beverages are being sold.
  • A special event permit may not be issued to the same applicant for more than fifteen (15) days in any one calendar year.

Step 3: Zone Use Permit or Fire Permit May Be Required

Zoning Use Permit may be required when submitting a Liquor Special Event application to Excise and Licenses. 

  • zoning 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 transacted in a building or on a lot/tract of land.

Zoning Use Permit Not Required for Events Held in Public Parks/Buildings and on Public Streets or Alleys:

  • Zoning Use Permits are not required for events held 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 that take place in the public right-of-way (public streets/alleys).
  • Events that are scheduled to take place in a public park or street should be coordinated through the Office of Special Events (“OSE”). OSE will work with the applicant and the appropriate city agencies to ensure the event checklist is tailored to address all of the City’s licensing and permitting concerns.

Events Inside a Building Already Zoned for Assembly

  • For events inside a building located on private property, we require a Zoning Use Permit 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 Zoning Use Permit for the subject building or space by emailing the request, including the property address, to zoning.review@denvergov.org. The most current zoning use permit may 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.  

Additionally, the applicant may need to secure a Fire Safety Permit. The Denver Fire Department will determine if a permit is needed for the liquor Special Event. If no permit is required, they will send the applicant a letter indicating such, which may be submitted in lieu of the fire permit with the Special Event liquor application to Excise and Licenses. Alternatively, if the Denver Fire Department determines a permit is required, the applicant will need to submit that permit along with the Special Event liquor application to Excise and Licenses.

Step 4: Application Process

Before beginning your online application, please take the following actions:
  1. Start gathering all of the required documents listed in the next section of this website. Make sure the documents are filled out completely and uploaded onto your computer. Note that some documents may take several days to obtain.
  2. Please make sure that when entering your event date and time information that you use military time.
  3. Ensure that you have a banking account, Mastercard, Visa, or Discover card that you can use to pay online.
  4. Start your application!

NOTE - Excise and Licenses will strive to process any application for a special event liquor permit within 7 business days. The application review process may take longer if the application is found to be incomplete.

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

  1. The applicant submits an application online. All required documents must be uploaded before the application is submitted.
  2. Excise and Licenses, along with the 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. This permit must be posted at the event at all times during which 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 via the online process to the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses. 

Step 6: Fees

Application fee: $100.00

Licensing fee per day:

  •  Malt, Vinous, and Spirituous:  $25.00 per day
  •  3.2% Beer:  $10.00 per day

          All credit cards are accepted with the exception of 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 their 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 Permit Holder

  • As a holder of the permit, the special event 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 permit is authorized only for the benefit of the non-profit organization or political candidate who holds the permit.  Proceeds from the event must benefit the non-profit organization or the political candidate.
  • Holders of a special event permit may also employ event managers to handle the event for a fee that reasonably compensates their work.  The "fee" of an event manager may not be the revenues from the event.
  • The Director may require examination of the books and records of a special event to ensure compliance with permit obligations.