Frequently Asked Questions

ABC Boards

Tab/Accordion Items

A local ABC board consists of a Chairman and from two to six members, depending on size, appointed by their city, town or county governing authority.

Click here to view a complete list of active ABC Boards

No. In North Carolina, ABC boards are local political subdivisions of the State. They operate as separate entities establishing their own policies and procedures.

Yes. However, the local ABC Board retains authority to set policy and adopt rules so long as they conform to ABC laws and Commission rules.

Yes. A local ABC Board shall submit to the ABC Commission an annual independent audit of its operations, performed in accordance with generally accepted accounting standards and in compliance with a chart of accounts prescribed by the ABC Commission.

The local ABC Board manages the local ABC store(s) that is within its operating jurisdiction.

ABC Stores

Tab/Accordion Items

There are approximately 435 stores in North Carolina

Click here to find an ABC store near you

The local ABC board chooses the location of ABC stores within its jurisdiction, subject to the approval of the ABC Commission.

Yes. A sign is posted at the site of the proposed new store at least thirty (30) days before the commission members vote on the store location approval request.

No ABC store shall be open between 9:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m. or on Sundays. Each local board shall otherwise determine the opening and closing hours of its stores. 

No ABC store shall be open, and no ABC store employee shall sell alcoholic beverages, on any Sunday, New Year’s Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, or Christmas Day. A local board may otherwise determine the days on which its stores shall be closed.

No. The retail price of spirituous liquor sold in North Carolina ABC stores shall be uniform throughout the state. There are monthly discounts on selected items but these also are uniform across the state.

No. In North Carolina, spirituous liquor may be sold only in local ABC stores operated by the local ABC Board.

All spirituous liquor sold by local ABC stores is ordered from the State Warehouse in Raleigh.

No. They are employees of the local board.

Visit your local ABC store and request to place a Spirituous Liquor Special Order. More information can be found at the link below.

Click for information on special orders


Normally, within four to six weeks, depending upon the availability of the requested item, and the supplier's delivery schedule.

No, all items are shipped directly to the State Warehouse for shipment to the local ABC store, who will advise when the item is ready for pickup.

Use our store locator to search for a store. This is found under the Local ABC Boards tab.

Click here for the store locator.

If you are interested in a job at an ABC store, you will need to contact your local ABC Board.

Any openings at the ABC Commission are posted on the Office of State Personnel web site. They are listed under the Department of Public Safety.

There are currently two counties with no ABC store: Graham and Madison.

Individuals cannot open liquor stores in North Carolina. Towns and counties have elections for an ABC store. The town/county appointing authority then appoints board members whose responsibility it is to establish the ABC store.

Click here to learn more about local ABC Boards


State Warehouse

Tab/Accordion Items

Spirituous liquor that comes into the State of North Carolina is stored in a state-owned warehouse in Raleigh.

Click here to find out more about the warehouse

The North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission (ABC) is responsible for the administrative oversight of the state-owned warehouse and contracts for services there.

Click here to find out more about the warehouse

The state-owned warehouse is operated by a private contractor, currently LB&B Associates, who is responsible for the receipt, storage, and distribution of products throughout the entire state. 

Click here to find out more about the warehouse

The purchaser of spirituous liquor pays the contractor’s fee indirectly. The State Warehouse operates under a bailment system in which the ownership of the product remains with the distillery until it is delivered to the local ABC boards at which time they have 30 days to pay for the product. The fee, called a "bailment fee," (currently $1.50 per case) is added to the price of liquor to pay for the warehousing and delivery to the local ABC boards.

Click here to find out more about the warehouse

Retail Permitting

Tab/Accordion Items

All fees collected from the ABC permit system are deposited with the State Treasurer.

Legal alcohol sales (to include mixed beverage sales, ABC stores, and beer and wine sales) are determined at the county and town level by local elections.

Click here to view legal sales by county/towns

A retail permit is issued to a person or persons or to an entity at a specific location allowing for the sale of alcoholic beverages.

The ABC Commission issues permits for all alcoholic beverages in North Carolina. A license is issued by the county/city/town in which a business is located, after your receive the ABC permit.

The cost of the permit is listed on the application form. Payment must be in the form of a certified check, cash, a cashier’s check or money order and are to be made payable to the North Carolina ABC Commission. Personal checks from individuals, businesses, or corporations are not accepted.

Click here for more information about retail permit types

No. ABC permits cannot be prorated. For example, if you should apply in September or any other month during the year from the period May 1 through April 30, the fees for the permit remain the same, no proration will be allowed.

Fingerprint cards must be completed by a local law enforcement agency.

Click here to locate an agency near you

Determine the type(s) of permits you need, then download and complete the required application.

Click here to download the required applications.

No. No provisions are made for refunds whether the application was approved, rejected or withdrawn.

Fingerprint cards are a requirement when applying for retail permit.

Yes. Individuals with prior felony convictions or revocation of an ABC permit within three (3) years of a new application will result in automatic disqualification. Misdemeanors involving drugs or alcohol within two (2) years will also result in disqualification.

Not usually. However, each record is reviewed by the ABC Commission staff before a permanent ABC permit is issued.

Yes. An application for permit can be delayed for incomplete information; local government objection to the application or to the applicant(s); or for lack of cooperation by the applicant(s) with the Commission and with the Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) agents.

By completing an application and submitting any additional documents required for the type of permit being requested, along with the required application fee(s). The original applicant(s) or corporate site manager must complete the application.

Monies not received for renewable permits by the deadline date of April 30 are cancelled. A new application will need to be completed and submitted to the ABC Commission. The new application fee, stated on the application, will be applicable.

The permit holder is responsible for keeping the business mailing address updated and renewing the permit. Failure to receive a notice is not justification for being allowed to retain the permit beyond April 30.

It is very important that you notify us prior to a change in ownership or relocation of the business. A new application packet will need to be re-filed and new permits issued under the new ownership at the new location in order for you to conduct business. The ABC permit issued to the old establishment automatically expires, and must be immediately turned in to the Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) or to the ABC Commission for cancellation.

All applicants must include a copy of a deed, lease or rental agreement showing the applicant, whether you are an individual, corporation, or LLC, etc., is in lawful ownership or possession of the premises. This document must include the address of the location or a property description and the date the deed, lease or rental agreement commenced.

Yes. However, a Certificate of Authority must be issued by the North Carolina Secretary of State’s Office along with an application by a North Carolina resident acting as the on-site manager for the location or a North Carolina resident authorized by power of attorney.

An establishment holding mixed beverage, brown bagging or special occasion permits must have an employee who is at least 21 years of age in charge of the licensed premises at all times. Bartenders must be 21 years of age to mix drinks containing spirits. Waiters and waitresses in on-premise establishments who serve or sell alcoholic beverages must be 18 years of age. Minors 16 and 17 years of age may be employed if they do not prepare, sell, serve or deliver alcoholic beverages at on-premise establishments. Malt beverage, fortified and unfortified wine permittees shall have an employee who is 18 years of age in charge. Minors may work at off-premise establishments (beer and/or wine) in any capacity, subject to the rules set by the North Carolina Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division.

Commercial Permits

Tab/Accordion Items

A commercial permit is a license issued to an individual or company at a specific location allowing for the manufacture, importation, bottling, distribution, transportation or representation of alcoholic beverages.

Click here to see the types of commercial permits that are available

For in-state permits the application investigation takes approximately six weeks. You will be contacted by a NC ABC Compliance Officer completing your investigation in order to schedule a time for them to meet with you. If all required documents are submitted with the permit applications, a temporary permit can be obtained the same day in which it is received. For out of state permits and non-resident vendor permits, the application process takes approximately two weeks. Temporary permits are not normally issued.

ABC permits are valid until you have a change in ownership or move to a new location, at which time your permits expire immediately. It is very important that you refile new applications prior to relocating your business or as soon as possible after a change in ownership occurs so that you will have no lapse in business operations. You do not have to pay any yearly fees for commercial permits, but new applications and fees are required for changes in ownership and/or location.

N.C.GS 18B-1101(7) may obtain a wine wholesaler permit. All required documents and the appropriate fees must be submitted with the wholesale permit application(s), and exemption request letter.

Vendor Representative – This person represents a NC winery, NC brewery, NC importer or, a nonresident vendor. This person is allowed to visit North Carolina calling on wholesale businesses, driving and delivering products to NC wholesalers. This person does not have to be a NC resident. Wholesale Salesmen – This person represents a North Carolina Wholesale business, delivering products to and calling upon N.C. retailers. This person must be a resident of NC or if not, must name a NC resident as attorney-in-fact through a Power of Attorney. The Power of Attorney must be registered with the Register of Deeds office in the county in which the business is located.

No. The permit fee is per company. If the permit fee is $300.00 and the business is a partnership between two people, the fee is $300.00.

Yes. If you are applying for a Malt Beverage Wholesale permit and a Wine Wholesale permit the total fee will be $600.00.

A warehouse should be climate controlled and suitable for storing beer and wine. In addition, you must have an office in which business is conducted and records can be stored and maintained. Space may be rented in a multi-tenant warehouse, but alcoholic beverage inventory must be physically secured in a reasonable manner, and access to non-licensed persons limited. Offices and records maintained in separate locations must be licensed separately, with appropriate application forms and fees submitted to the ABCC. A home office is not a suitable location and will not be licensed.

Yes, GS 18B-1113 and GS 18B-1114 require that the products must come to rest at the licensed premises of the NC wholesaler before being sold to a retailer. That means that the product must be off-loaded from delivery vehicles prior to being delivered to the retailer.

No. No provisions are made for refunds whether the application was approved, rejected or withdrawn.

All fees collected from the ABC permit system are deposited with the State Treasurer.

Field Audits

Tab/Accordion Items

An ABC Commission auditor or audit team may conduct an audit of the financial records of permit holders who are located in various locations within the State of North Carolina who serve alcoholic beverages in their establishments.

For more information, refer to our Audit division

An audit is conducted on mixed locations which serve mixed beverages to determine their eligibility, suitability, and compliance under the North Carolina General Statutes, Chapter 18B and the North Carolina ABC Commission rules.

A permittee may be audited at any time.

Yes. If a permittee does not qualify under the laws and rules or if violations exist, the application for permit can be denied.

Depending on the information received during an inspection or report sent to the Commission, the permittee may be audited frequently to determine compliance.

A restaurant’s total gross receipts from food and nonalcoholic beverages shall be not less than thirty percent (30%) of the total gross receipts from food, nonalcoholic beverages, and alcoholic beverages.

Yes, if the businesses are located in Urban Redevelopment Areas. These businesses shall not have alcoholic beverage sales in excess of fifty percent (50%) of the business’s total annual sales.

No. Simply deface the Mixed Beverage Tax Stamp with a pen and immediately dispose of the bottle

Mixed Beverage permittees are required by statute to pay $20.00 extra per four liters or $3.75 per 750 ml bottle.

A permittee shall not advertise or sell as a mixed beverage a drink which contains less than one (1 oz.) ounce of spirituous liquor unless the customer requests a lesser amount.

It is unlawful to refill any spirituous liquor container or add to the contents of such container any other alcoholic beverages.

Yes, but only after receiving approval in writing from the Commission’s Audit Division.

Yes. A permittee may keep at each mixing station a reasonable number of containers of each brand of liquor likely to be used, but no more than one container may be opened.

No. If the Tax Stamp falls off the bottle and is lost, contact your local ALE officer.

Generally, only mixed beverage and other permittee s needing to meet local sales area requirements are required to submit financial and inventory reports. These reports are submitted on an annual basis or upon request by the Commission.

Beer & Wine Product Approvals

Tab/Accordion Items

You must have the appropriate ABC permit, before submitting your product to the Product Compliance Section for approval.

Please refer to Product Approval for more information


ALL PRODUCTS MUST BE APPROVED REGARDLESS OF THE CONTAINER. Label approval requirements depend on how the products are stored/packaged. Stationary Tanks - If the products are piped from stationary tanks, the tank must contain a Federal Government Health Warning statement. State product approval is required. No labels need to be submitted for stationary tanks. Kegs - If the products are piped from movable kegs, the kegs must contain all required label information, including the Government Health Warning statement. Kegs require both product and label approval by the state as well as TTB. If a brewery is producing and selling only in-state, the state does not require TTB COLA approval.

The state as well as TTB require label approval if the growler is prefilled. If the container is filled upon request, the state requires a secondary label that does not require approval.

The maximum alcoholic content by volume for all malt beverage products is 15%.

Not necessarily. You may complete the analysis statement on the Label/Product Approval form or submit a certified analysis.

Cider is classified as an unfortified wine and can be sold by retailers holding unfortified wine permits.

Please see G.S. §105-113.80 and §105-113.83 ( or contact the Department of Revenue.


The supplier must complete the Distribution Agreement Filing form. This could be a NC winery, NC Wine Producer, NC brewery, NC importer, NC bottler, or a nonresident vendor.

No, you cannot assign multiple wholesalers to a territory for the same brand. Territories must be exclusive for each wholesale distributor, even if the wholesaler has multiple locations. Each wholesale location must have territories assigned for that specific location.

You must submit new Distribution Agreement Filing forms assigning the new wholesaler (the purchaser) and a letter indicating what has transpired. A change of ownership of the distributor is not grounds to change distributors.