Are you looking for info on an ABC license transfer? You’ve come to the right place. Transferring a liquor license can be a confusing process if you’ve never gone through it before, so you probably have some questions. Let’s go over a few of the basics to help you get started…

What does ABC mean?

ABC actually stands for Alcoholic Beverage Control, and this role is overseen and regulated by The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. You can look up your local ABC office for contact details to schedule an appointment.

Can’t a liquor license just be signed over?

Unfortunately, it’s a little more complicated than that. A signed application needs to be submitted to The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. It must be signed by the present licensee as well as the transferee, or it won’t be considered. If the transferee applicant isn’t qualified for a liquor license, or if there’s going to be a change in location, further steps will be needed.

What are the steps for an ABC license transfer?

The first step is to schedule an appointment at your local ABC office. This meeting includes all relevant parties—both the transferee as well as the person who currently holds the license.

During this time, the applicant is asked a series of questions to help decide which kind of liquor license is right for their business. From there, the applicant will find out which forms they need, as well as their corresponding fees. Note that there are some situations where the applicant will need to get approval from zoning officials before proceeding with their application process. This can also include other steps, such as opening a business escrow account, or a trip to the County Recorder’s office.


This isn’t a brief meeting, so be sure to plan accordingly. You will also be required to view a video about ABC laws, so there’s no confusion about the rules and regulations of your new license.


Fees vary (depending on the type of liquor license you require) and are typically paid at this meeting. In some cases, a temporary permit is issued after the applicant pays these fees, but it depends on the situation and type of license.

What happens if you terminate your commercial lease?

If you decide to terminate your lease on the licensed premises, some other steps will need to be taken to remain in compliance with ABC laws. First, the license holder needs to surrender their liquor license back to The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. They have 15 days to do this, but there’s a one-year window for the surrendered license to be transferred to a new location or to another person.

Do You Have Questions?

If you have questions about commercial escrow or an ABC license transfer, give us a call at Bay Area Escrow (925) 831-9099 for an escrow team that works as hard as you do. You can also learn more about us and our services by clicking here.