Virginia ABC > Licenses > License Reform

License Reform

Richmond capitol

The Virginia General Assembly approved a new licensing and fee structure for Virginia ABC that consolidates the 152 existing alcohol licenses down to 71, in a set of 12 categories. This new structure will streamline the number and type of licenses administered by the Authority and craft a less complicated licensing structure for our licensees. More information will be forthcoming.

This new structure is the outcome of a multi-year license-reform effort. This effort launched on November 29, 2018, at the request of a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Rehabilitation and Social Services, following a hearing on November 19, 2018. The goals were to consolidate licenses; explore creation of a marketplace license; analyze fees collected and determine whether to restructure to align with resources necessary to administer, monitor and enforce licenses; and consult with relevant stakeholders in creating a recommendation.

License Reform Overview 

Consolidated License Structure

Prior to 2022, Virginia ABC offered 152 different alcohol licenses. The reform reduced the number of different licenses to 71 licenses. These licenses fall under 12 new categories listed below. Some license fees have been adjusted.

New License Categories

  1. Retail – Mixed Beverage
  2. Retail – All Other
  3. Industry – Manufacturer – Brewery
  4. Industry – Manufacturer – Winery
  5. Industry – Manufacturer – Farm Winery
  6. Industry – Manufacturer – Distillery
  7. Industry – Wholesaler – Beer
  8. Industry – Wholesaler – Wine
  9. Industry – Shipper
  10. Industry – Specialty
  11. Specialty
  12. Marketplace

Privilege Modifications

Here is a summary of the general changes/modifications in privilege types (not all inclusive).

Beer Only License

The Beer Only License has been eliminated. In its place is a new Beer and Wine License which includes both privileges. A licensee may choose not to exercise either privilege.

On-Premises Only License

The On-Premises Only License has been eliminated. In its place is a new Retail On- and Off-Premises Wine and Beer License. A licensee may choose not to exercise both privileges.

  • This license applies to hotels, restaurants, clubs, resorts, limited-service hotels, rural grocery stores, concert & dinner theaters, historic cinema houses, historic beer museums and hospitals.
  • The following businesses need this license but also qualify for a Mixed Beverage “brownbag” exception: continuing care communities and select food concessions operators at coliseums, stadiums, racetracks, or similar venues.

Retail Off-Premises Wine & Beer License

This license applies to convenience grocery stores, delicatessens, drugstores, gift shops, gourmet oyster houses, gourmet shops, grocery stores and marina stores.

Delivery privilege

This privilege is automatically included with the Off-Premises Wine and Beer License and the On- and Off-Premises License. If exercised, the licensee must submit a monthly report of deliveries.

Keg privilege

This privilege is automatically included for the Off-Premises Wine and Beer License and the On- and Off-Premises License. The licensee must now buy keg books.

Marketplace License

This license replaces former licenses for day spas, meal assembly kitchens, clothiers, art instruction studios, canal boat operators, co-working establishments. The new Marketplace License may be issued to other new establishments deemed acceptable to the Board.

Mixed Beverage (MB) Restaurant License

The new MB Restaurant License automatically includes Beer & Wine On- and Off-Privileges. This license applies to: 

  • Restaurants and hotels with restaurants
  • Resorts with restaurant mixed beverages
  • Restaurants and casinos
  • Mixed beverage restaurants with caterer licenses
  • Restaurants at port of Eentry
  • Restaurants on a municipal golf course

New seating classifications are now: less than 100, 101 to 150, 151 to 500, 501 to 1000 and over 1000 Seats

Other Mixed Beverage Licenses

All Mixed Beverage Licenses automatically include Beer and Wine. This licenses applies to: 

  • Limited Mixed Beverage Restaurant License
  • Mixed Beverage Caterer’s License  
  • Mixed Beverage Limited Caterer’s License (limited is 12 events per year) 
  • Mixed Beverage Carrier License (which now includes buses)
  • Annual Mixed Beverage Motor Sports Facility License
  • Annual Mixed Beverage Performing Arts Facility License
  • Annual Mixed Beverage Amphitheater License
  • Annual Mixed Beverage Special Events Facility license

Annual Licenses

These licenses include:

  • Banquet (Nonprofit) License – limited to no more than 12 banquets per year
  • Banquet Facility License - for EMS and fire stations. May not include the sale of alcohol.
  • Local Special Events License – limited to no more than 12 events per year.
  • Annual Mixed Beverage License – limited to no more than 12 events per year and includes wine and beer privileges
  • Equine Sporting Event License – limited to 4 calendar days per year
  • Arts Venue Event License – may serve on premises only, 12 or fewer calendar days per year.

Industry Licenses

These licenses include:

  • Internet Wine and Beer Retailer – was separate license-now combined - can do one or both
  • Fruit Distiller - no longer a standalone license - All are now just a Distillery License
  • Limited Distiller’s License – now can produce up to 36,000 gallons
  • Brewery License - now includes Retail Off-Premises (for beer other than their own)
  • Limited Brewery license – now includes Retail Off-Premises (for beer other than their own)
  • Winery License – now includes Retail Off-Premises (for wine other than their own)
  • Farm Winery – now includes Retail Off-Premises (for wine other than their own)


This section of the website is designed to assist licensees in maintaining a safe, regulated business.

ABC grants a range of privileges, or "licenses," to businesses, groups and individuals enabling the manufacture, distribution, selling and serving of alcoholic beverages in the Commonwealth. Holders of these privileges are commonly called “licensees."

The selling and serving of alcoholic beverages is a business that is subject to higher legal and social accountability than almost any other industry. As a licensee, you shoulder many responsibilities, including preventing underage sales and consumption of alcoholic beverages. Virginia ABC has a strict "zero tolerance" policy for underage consumption and looks to you to aggressively avoid these sales.
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Need Help?

Explore our list of frequently asked questions (FAQs). For additional licensing assistance, please contact your regional ABC office or email enforcement@virginiaabc.com.