There are three general steps to obtaining a new liquor license in Iowa. They need to be done in order, and they generally take between 45 to 90 days to complete. They are as follows:

Three Steps to Obtain a Liquor License in Iowa:

1. Submit a license application to the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division (ABD)

The first step is to complete and submit a license application through the Iowa ABD website. This application MUST be submitted online. In that application you will provide general information about the type of license you are requesting, information on the type of business requesting the license, premises information and general information on each owner or corporate officer. You will also need to provide proof of Dram Shop Insurance for your premises and provide a bank account number and routing number. The annual licensing fees will be automatically deducted from that account. After the application is submitted, then the local authorities will be notified of your application and you can proceed to step two.

2. Work with local authorities

The second step is to work with the local authorities and provide whatever documentation they require in order to get license approval. Each jurisdiction has its own requirements, so you will need to work directly with the local City Clerk to get them the proper documentation. Some examples of documentation that local authorities may require would be a deed or lease for the subject property, a Notary page verifying that your state application is completed and accurate, background checks for each officer listed on the application, a sketch of the licensed premises, and inspections from various city departments.

3. Get approval by your City Council and the Iowa ABD

The third and final step is to get approval from both City Council and the Iowa ABD. After you have completed steps one and two, then your application will be placed on the City Council agenda, and the Council will decide whether it has been approved or rejected. If it is approved by City Council, then the City Clerk will notify the Iowa ABD and they will give their final approval and send out the official license.

If you have questions about the licensing process, please contact Jace Bisgard by email at or by phone at (319) 365-9461.

Jace T. Bisgard
Jace Bisgard is an Attorney and Senior Vice President with Shuttleworth & Ingersoll, P.L.C. His work focuses primarily in two distinct areas. The first area is civil litigation, and the second area is beer, wine, and liquor licensing, compliance, and regulation issues.