Placing Alcohol Orders Ahead of Your TABC Permit Issuance

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There are a lot of moving parts when managing a timeline for the opening of a bar or restaurant. Of course, the issuance date of your anticipated Texas liquor license or TABC permit is a major milestone. However, don’t overlook that you may have the opportunity to place orders for alcohol before that date arrives — which may help you keep your entire timeline moving forward.

When Can I Order Alcohol?

The short answer is when the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) accepts your application for a Texas liquor license or permit. If you can show that you have an application for a TABC permit that allows for on-premise consumption, most wholesalers and distributors will go ahead and accept your order for alcoholic beverages.

What do you need to show them? The TABC website may list your location as “Pending Original,” but it can take some time for the system to update. Another option is showing the wholesaler or distributor a document you hopefully kept in your file. When you turn in your application to the TABC, we recommend bringing a second copy of the complete application along with you. The TABC will take the original and will stamp the extra copy for you to take with you. This file-stamped copy not only gives you a record of what you submitted to the TABC but also proves to any vendor that you have an application pending.

When Can My Order Be Processed and Delivered?

Though you can place the order, don’t forget that you need a valid TABC permit or license before you can legally purchase alcohol for the purpose of resale. The good news is that most wholesalers and distributors are very careful to follow this rule and likely won’t sell to you before the permit issues anyway.

When the TABC receives your application, it processes the application first in a local office (sometimes far from your licensed premises depending on their staffing). A TABC License and Permit Specialist is assigned to process your application and will send you an introductory email. The License and Permit Specialist may ask for additional information, if needed, and then will send the application for final processing at the TABC headquarters in Austin. When the application is approved, this is often reflected online before the TABC contacts you.

If you are really down to the wire with your timeline, you may want to check the status of your application via the TABC Public Inquiry site. Click on the first link in the list of options on the left: “Verify the status and other information on license/permit or to check the status of a pending license.” Then enter information as necessary to search for your application. If you are looking for an active or pending application, make sure you check all of the following boxes:

  • Active-Current
  • Active-Suspended
  • Pending Original

Leave the remaining boxes unchecked. The address fields can be tricky, so we typically recommend searching using the owner name. If nothing comes up, try adding or taking away punctuation or using a different identifier to search for the application.

The record for the correct licensed premises will indicate whether the application is still pending or whether there is an active permit or liquor license. Once the status has changed to “Current,” you can request a “Letter of Authority” from your License and Permit Specialist. This request is typically made by you and fulfilled by the License and Permit Specialist via email. If you do not request the Letter of Authority, one will not issue, and you will simply wait for your official permit in the mail. If you do receive the Letter of Authority, post it at your licensed premises, and you are ready to transact business under the permit or license. The official permit will still follow in the mail. Discard the Letter of Authority and post the permit when it arrives.

The Next Milestone

With your permit or license in place, you are ready to move on and focus on running your restaurant and bar. The next major milestone in your TABC timeline should be your renewal, two years after the permit or license issuance date.  

Disclaimer: Nothing in our articles or on our website is legal advice and should not be taken as such. Please address all legal questions to your counsel. While our team is not a law firm, we can refer you as needed.

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