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​When is a license required? 

License required (340A.401) No person may directly or indirectly, on any pretense, sell, barter, charge for possession or otherwise dispose of alcoholic beverages as part of a commercial transaction without having obtained the proper license or permit.


What can I sell in my liquor store?  

Exclusive liquor store (340A.412, Subd. 14) An exclusive liquor store may sell only the following items:
  • alcoholic beverages
  • tobacco products
  • ice mixes, liquid or powder specifically designated for mixing with liquor
  • soft drinks
  • liqueur-filled candies
  • food products that contain more than one-half of one percent alcohol by volume cork extraction devices
  • books and videos on the use of alcoholic beverages
  • magazines and other publications published primarily for information and education on alcoholic beverages
  • home brewing equipment, including ingredients  

What type of business qualifies for an on-sale liquor license?

On-Sale License (340A.404) An on-sale liquor license may be issued by a city to numbers 1-7, by a county to numbers 1, 2, 3 or 4:   
  1. Hotels
  2. Restaurants
  3. Bowling centers
  4. Clubs - provided:
    a. The organization has been in existence for at least 3 years
    b. Sales will only be to members and bona fide guests
  5. Metropolitan Sports Commission
  6. Exclusive liquor stores
  7. Theaters (Also qualifies for on-sale wine and on-sale malt liquor licenses)

Who may have an off-sale license?

Off-Sale License (340A.405) A city/county may issue an off-sale liquor license to an exclusive liquor store. A city of the first class may issue an off-sale license to a general food store if originally issued prior to 1989.

What about 3.2 licenses?

 3.2 Beer License (340A.403) 
  1. An on-sale or off-sale liquor licensee may sell 3.2 beer without a further license.
  2. A city or county may issue a 3.2 beer license for either on-premise or off-premise sale.

What is a wine license ?

Wine On-Sale Licenses (340A.404 Subd. 5) and on-sale of strong beer.
  1. A municipality may issue an on-sale wine license to a restaurant that has at least 25 seats. This permits the sale of wine up to 14% alcohol.
  2. A municipality may by ordinance authorize a holder of an on-sale wine license, who is also licensed to sell 3.2 beer on-sale and whose gross receipts are at least 60% attributable to the sale of food, to sell strong beer at on-sale without an additional license - no additional fee may be charged.
  3. A municipality may issue an on-sale wine license to a licensed bed and breakfast facility, provided it is only for the registered guests. (There are Bed and Breakfast Exceptions to license requirements. You may contact the alcohol beverage office for more information)

What other types of licenses are there ?  

  1. Combination Licenses (340A.406) A city of the fourth class or a statutory city of 10,000 or fewer population may issue an off-sale and on-sale intoxicating liquor license to the same licensee or in lieu of issuing separate licenses to the same licensee, may issue a combination on-sale and off-sale license.
  2. County Licenses (340A.410) A county may not issue a retail license to sell any alcohol beverage within an organized town unless the governing body of the town has consented to the issuance of the license. The county board shall also consider the recommendations of the Sheriff and County Attorney.
  3. Municipal Licenses (340A.601) A city having a population of not more than 10,000 may own and operate a municipal liquor store which may sell intoxicating liquor, 3.2 beer, tobacco, ice, soft drinks and food for consumption on the premises.
  4. Temporary Licenses
    a. 3.2 beer: A club or charitable, religious or non-profit organization may be issued a temporary 3.2 beer license subject to the terms set by the issuing county or city. (340A.403, Subd. 2)
    b. On-sale spirits, wine and beer: A club or charitable, religious or other non-profit organization in existence for at least three years may be issued a temporary license for the on-sale of intoxicating liquor in connection with a social event within the city/county sponsored by the licensee. The license may not be for more than four (04) consecutive days. The license may provide that the licensee may contract for intoxicating liquor, catering services with the holder of a full year on-sale intoxicating liquor license holder. The licenses are subject to the terms, including a license fee, imposed by the issuing city/county. (340A.404, Subd. 10)
    c. Off-sale licenses - wine auctions: A city may issue a temporary license for the off-sale of wine at an auction, authorizing the sale of only vintage wine of a brand and vintage that is not commonly being offered for sale by any wholesaler in Minnesota. The license may authorize the off-sale of wine for not more than three consecutive days provided not more than 600 cases are sold at auction. The licenses are subject to the terms imposed by the issuing city. (340A.405, Subd. 4)
  5. Caterer's Permit (340A.404, Subd. 12) The commissioner may issue a caterer's permit to a restaurant that holds an on-sale intoxicating liquor license issued by any municipality. The holder of a caterer's permit may sell intoxicating liquor as an incidental part of a food service that serves prepared meals at a place other than the premises for which the holder's on-sale intoxicating liquor license is issued. The permittee shall notify either the police chief or the county sheriff, of where the event will take place.

Are there limitations placed on an alcohol beverage license?

  • Licenses prohibited in certain areas (340A.412, Subd. 4)
    No license to sell intoxicating liquor may be issued within the following areas:
    1. Where restricted through zoning ordinances.
    2. Within the capitol or on the capitol grounds.
    3. On the state fair grounds or at any place in the city of the first class within one-half mile of the fair grounds.
    4. On the campus or the college of agriculture of the U of M.
    5. Within 1,000 feet of a state hospital, training schools, reformatory, prison or other institutions under the supervision or control of the commissioner of human services or the commissioner of corrections. (Measured from the nearest part of the liquor store building to the nearest property line of the restricted institution.)
    6. In a town or city in which the majority of votes at the last election and which the question of license was voted upon were not in favor of a license or within one-half mile of any such town or city.
    7. At any place on the east-side of the Mississippi River within one tenth of a mile of the main building of the U of M unless the establishment is on the property owned and operated by a non-profit corporation organized prior to January 1, 1940.
    8. Within 1,500 feet of any public school that is not within a city.
  • Restrictions on the number of off-sale licenses
    1. A municipality may not issue more than one off-sale license to any person or for any one place. (340A.412, Subd. 3)
    2. In cities of the first class, not more than one off-sale license for each 5,000 population. In all other cities the limit shall be determined by the city. (340A.413, Subd. 5)  

When may I be open for business?

Hours and Days of Sale (340A.504)
  1. 3.2 beer No sale of 3.2 beer may be made between 2:00 A.M. and 8:00 A.M. on the days of Monday through Saturday, nor between 2:00 A.M. and Noon on Sunday, with certain exceptions for the airport and sports commission.
  2. On-Sale No sale of intoxicating liquor on-sale may be made:
    a. Between 2:00 A.M. and 8:00 A.M. on the days of Monday through Saturday.
    b. After 2:00 A.M. on Sundays, except as provided by the Sunday sale law.
  3. On-Sale - Sunday Sales A city may issue a Sunday license only if authorized to do so by the voters of the city voting on the question at a general or special election. A restaurant, club, bowling center or hotel with at least 30 seats and which holds an on-sale license may sell intoxicating liquor on-sale in conjunction with the sale of food between the hours of 10:00 A.M. on Sundays and 1:00 A.M. on Monday after a public hearing, ordinance and separate Sunday license. The fee for the Sunday license may not exceed $200. A county may issue a Sunday license in a town only if authorized to do so by the voters of the town.
  4. Off-Sale No off-sale may be made:
    • On Sunday.
    • Before 8 a.m. or after 10 p.m. on Monday through Saturday
    • On Thanksgiving Day
    • On Christmas Day.
    • NOTE: Off-sales may now be open the following days:
      a. Election Day
      b. New Year's Day
      c. 4th of July
      d. Labor Day
      e. Memorial Day
  5. A municipality may further limit the hours of sale provided that the restricted hours apply equally to 3.2 beer on sale and intoxicating liquor on sale.
  6. Sales after 1 a.m.; (a) No licensee may sell intoxicating liquor or 3.2 percent malt liquor on-sale between the hours of 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. unless the licensee has obtained a permit from the commissioner.

May a person under the age of 21 be in my alcohol beverage licensed location ?

A. Consumption. It is unlawful for any:
  1. Retail licensee to permit any person under the age of 21 years to consume alcohol on the premise.
  2. Person under the age of 21 to consume any alcoholic beverage unless consumed in the household of the persons parent or guardian and with the consent of the parent or guardian.
B. Purchasing. It is unlawful for any person:
  1. To sell, furnish or give alcoholic beverages to a person under 21;
  2. Under the age of 21 to purchase or attempt to purchase or procure any alcoholic beverage; or
  3. To lend or knowingly permit the use of the person's drivers license, permit, Minnesota I.D. card or other form of identification by a person under the age of 21 years for the purpose of purchasing or attempting to purchase alcohol.
C. Possession. It is unlawful for a person under the age of 21 to possess any alcoholic beverage with the intent to consume unless in the home of a person's parent or guardian.
D. Entering Licensed Premises. It is unlawful for a person under 21 to enter an establishment licensed to sell alcoholic beverages for the purpose of purchasing or having served or delivered any alcoholic beverages. However, no city ordinance may prohibit a person 18, 19 or 20 years of age from entering an establishment to:
  1. Perform work for the establishment, including the serving of alcoholic beverages;
  2. Consume meals; and
  3. Attend social functions that are held in a portion of the establishment where liquor is not sold.
E. Misrepresentation of Age. It is unlawful for a person under 21 to claim to be 21 for the purpose of purchasing alcoholic beverages.
F. Proof of Age, Defense
  1. Proof of age for purchasing or consuming alcoholic beverages may be established only by one of the following:  
    a. A valid drivers license issued by Minnesota, another state or Canada and including the photograph and date of birth of the person;
    b. A valid identification card issued by Minnesota, another state or Canada and including the photograph and date of birth of the person;
    c. A valid military I.D. issued by the U.S. Dept. of Defense;
    d. A valid passport issued by the United States.
    e.  In the case of a foreign national, a valid passport. 
  2. In a prosecution for a sale to a person under 21, it is a defense to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the seller reasonably and in good faith relied upon representations of proof of age authorized above in selling or giving the alcohol.

Employment of minors

No person under the age of 18 years may serve or sell intoxicating liquor (this does not include 3.2 beer) in a retail liquor establishment. (340A.412, Subd. 10)
No city ordinance may prohibit an employee 18, 19 or 20 years old from serving alcohol. [340A.503, Subd. 4(B)1]
Q. As a license holder, am I responsible for any violation inside my establishment? What is considered a violation ?
A. Every licensee is responsible for the conduct in the licensed establishment and any sale of alcoholic beverages by any employee authorized to sell alcoholic beverages is the act of the licensee for the purpose of these provisions. (340A.501)
B. No person may sell, give, furnish or in any way procure for another, alcoholic beverage for the use of an obviously intoxicated person. To do so is a gross misdemeanor. (340A.502 and 340A.702, Subd. 7)
C. Sales to under 21 or allowing consumption of under 21 (see Roman Numeral No. V.)
D. Licensee may not sell for resale. (340A.505)
E. Gambling prohibited. No retail establishment licensed to sell alcohol may keep, possess or operate dice or any gambling device except that provided under the lawful gaming law, Indian gaming law or lottery law. (340A.410, Subd. 5)
F. Coin operated amusement devices may not be made available in off-sale licenses. (340A.410, Subd. 9)
G. A holder of a retail intoxicating liquor license or a municipal liquor store may not store any intoxicating liquor at any location other than the licensed premises except with the written permission of the commissioner. (340A.412, Subd. 12)
H. A local authority may impose further restrictions and regulations on the sale and possession of alcohol within its limits. (340A.509)