Applying for a Michigan Retail Liquor License in the “New Era”

Posted on April 4, 2012


We keep hearing that this is a “new era” of Michigan liquor law; the term seems apt enough and we cannot disagree.  Whether this new era will bring about the sweeping positive change that we hope for is yet to be seen.  At the very least, we can say that, thus far, there are some seemingly positive changes and some changes that appear much less positive.  Until more is known, and until (if?) the changes from the ARC report are implemented, we have crafted notes on the application process, with tips on best practices.*  Please note, this is not a complete overview of the process; instead, we have focused primarily on the initial stage, where there has been the greatest amount of change.

This post references multiple types of on-premise and off-premise licenses.  Not sure which is which?  We provide basic information about Michigan retail liquor licenses here.

About the “Completed Application”

The “Completed Application” is a newly crafted term of art by the current Commission.  Taken from MCL 436.1525, this phrase is used by the Commission to refer to those documents and fees that must be provided prior to their initiation of a license transfer or issuance of a new license.  A completed application must include:

  1. Application for New Retail Licenses, Permits, or Transfer of Ownership or Interest in License (LCC-3011)
  2. Local Government Approval Form (LC-1305), if applying for any on-premise license other than a club license or special “24 hour” license
  3. Police Investigation Recommendation Form (LC-1800) for both on-premise and off-premise applicants
  4. Purchase Agreement, if applicable
  5. Copy of Articles of Organization or Articles of Incorporation and a copy of the Filing Endorsement.  Available through
  6. Property Documents (e.g. proposed lease, land contract, option, or purchase agreement covering real estate)
  7. Fees

About Local Approval:

Local government approvals and law enforcement recommendations are now required as part of the completed application.  While you can send in the application without these documents, it appears that MLCC will not take any action on the application until these are received.

Do you need local government approval or law enforcement recommendations?

If applying for a new/transfer on-premise license:  If you are applying for an on-premise license (other than a club license or special license), you need local government approval.  You also need a law enforcement “report” or “recommendation.”  Special Licenses (for 24-hour sale of alcohol) must receive “approval,” not merely a “recommendation,” from local law enforcement.  *NOTE:  This section on Local Approval is not meant to apply to Detroit applicants.

If applying for a new/transfer off-premise license:  If you are applying for an off-premise license, you do not need local government approval.  You do, however, need a local law enforcement “report” or “recommendation.”

Getting Local Approval:

  1. For all licenses (both on-premise and off-premise):  Immediately after signing a purchase agreement, the buyer (applicant) should make an appointment for fingerprinting and an interview with the local police and them with the LC-1800 at this time.  *Note:  Fingerprinting is not required if the buyer is currently licensed; however, the LC-1800 must still be completed by local police.
  2. For on-premise licenses other than a club or 24-hour license: Contact the local legislative body (typically through the clerk).  Request that the application be placed upon the next available docket and provide the Clerk with the LC-1305 prior to the meeting.  It is usually best to have the buyer and/or attorney present for any questions during the meeting (especially if a new license is involved or if there will be any changes in the operation).

What Happens if Approval is Withheld:

A recommendation by local law enforcement is required for all new licenses and license transfers (Rule 436.1105).  While a recommendation against licensure does not per se lead to the Commission’s denial of an application, it will weigh strongly against approval of the application.  Furthermore, where local government approval is required, a law enforcement recommendation against licensure will commonly cause the LGU to withhold approval of the application.


About Fees:

We have discussed fees several times (here, and here, and here) and do not wish to belabor the point.  If you have not read our earlier posts, remember that all fees are now due up front.  The LCC-3011 includes a list of all fees that must be paid, depending on what license(s) and permits you are applying for.  Be sure to send in your fees with the application or you will not be submitting a “completed application.”

About Permits:

Simply applying for a new permit?  The changes will affect you as well.  Now, rather than submit a separate permit application, you should send in the LCC-3011, checking only the relevant boxes.  Law enforcement investigations must be submitted with your application for a permit.  If local government approval is required for the permit (e.g. Dance, Entertainment, Topless Activity, or Banquet Facility Permits), you should obtain the local approval and submit it with the permit application.  Do not forget to include your fees.

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*This overview and the thoughts herein are provided by the Liquor Lawyers at Stariha & Brower, PLC.  As always, we remind readers that the materials on this site are provided purely for informational purposes and are not legal advice. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed, to be correct, complete, and current. This blog is not intended to be a source of legal advice. Therefore, the reader should not consider this information an invitation for an attorney-client relationship. Readers should always seek the advice of competent counsel.