Iowa law requires all alcoholic beverages retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers, importers and brokers to apply for and obtain a license or permit before doing business in the state. Each year, the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division’s licensing specialists review more than 11,000 applications to ensure that licenses and permits are issued only to qualified applicants operating at qualified premises. License classifications and qualifications for applicants and premises are specified in Iowa Code chapter 123 and the Division’s administrative rules located in Iowa Administrative Code chapter 185.

The Division’s licensing section generates more than $11 million in revenues annually. A portion of the fees collected for retail licenses are transferred back to cities and counties to help offset the cost of conducting background investigations on license applicants and the enforcement of Iowa’s alcoholic beverages laws. Additional monies are transferred to the Iowa Department of Health to offset the cost of various substance abuse programs located throughout the state. All other license and permit fees are transferred to the state’s general fund.

For additional licensing information, see related content on the right side of this page. 

Just starting your business? Visit the Iowa Department of Revenue (IDR) website. If your business sells food on-site or to go, visit IDR to learn which foods are taxable and which are exempt.