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California Wildfires Advisory Information for ABC Licensees

This information is being provided by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to address some of the questions licensed businesses may have

This information is being provided by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to address some of the questions licensed businesses may have following the recent wildfires in California. ABC will continue to answer questions as communities strive to recover from the fires. The Department is committed to being as flexible as possible with licensees.

Disclaimer: The Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) regularly archives industry advisories for transparency and historical reference. However, the advisories may not necessarily reflect the current state of the discussed statute or regulation. Please consult the statute, regulation, and/or an attorney before taking any action to ensure compliance with the law.

The information below is not the only assistance that may be available to licensees impacted by the fires.

To find your local licensing office, visit: Contact |Alcoholic Beverage Control (ca.gov)

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I relocate business operations following a major fire disaster?

Yes, a licensee is provided relief when their licensed premises suffers property damage or has been destroyed by a fire or other act of God. They are allowed to carry on business for a period up to 6 months at a location within 1000 feet of their premises, while their premises is being repaired or rebuilt. See AB 3139 (Gray & Chiu) Alcoholic beverages: Licensees. Chaptered by the Secretary of State – Chapter 175, Statutes of 2020 on September 25, 2020, and approved by the Governor on September 25, 2020.

An application will need to be filed with the local ABC district office. There is no fee for this temporary relocation.

The Department may have discretion to extend the period of time and the distance a business may operate at a temporary location pursuant to an Executive Order.

Reference: 24081 B&P, 24082 B&P

 

What about the storage of alcoholic beverages?

Tax-paid wine and beer may be stored anywhere in the state. ABC approval is not required.

Distilled spirits may only be stored on licensed premises which can purchase, sell, or store distilled spirits, including Type-14 public warehouses. ABC approval is not required to transfer from one storage location to another.

If alcoholic beverages are stored in a Type-14 public warehouse,ABC approval is not required to transfer them to another Type-14 warehouse orto a private warehouse.

Distilled spirits may be stored in a private warehouse approved by the Department if within the limits of the county in which the licensee’s premises are located.

If wine is stored in bond, ABC approval is not required to transfer it to another facility. However, approval of taxing authorities (BOE, TTB) may be required.

Reference: 23106 B&P

 

Can you tell me about retail license issues related to breakage?

Understanding there may be questions involving broken containers of alcoholic beverage at retail licensed business, we are advising there are no provisions in the ABC Act that permit suppliers (manufacturers and distributors) to replace loss due to destruction of alcohol products caused by natural disasters.

Retailers should file a claim with their insurer for the value of their destroyed product. Additionally, if a retail premise closes for a period that exceeds 15 days, or closes permanently, the law requires them to surrender their license. When they have done so, ABC permits suppliers to pick up alcoholic beverages and credit the account of a retailer who has surrendered their license.

With respect to damaged products, please see below under “Can a retail licensee return its inventory to a supplier.”

Reference: Rule 65 CCR, Rule 79 CCR

 

Are there any tied house exceptions for natural disasters?

The ABC Act provides a tied-house exception for natural disasters. It provides that a manufacturer or wholesaler may give, rent, lend, or sell, any equipment, fixtures, or supplies, other than alcoholic beverages, to a retailer whose equipment, fixtures, or supplies were lost or damaged as a result of a natural disaster and whose premises are located in an area proclaimed to be in a state of disaster by the Governor.

The section does not apply to transactions that occur three months or more after the Governor proclaims an area to be in a state of disaster.

The ABC Act also allows, until January 1, 2025*, a winegrower, a beer manufacturer, a distilled spirits manufacturer, a craft distiller, a brandy manufacturer, a rectifier, or a wine rectifier to donate a portion of the purchase price of an alcoholic beverage to a nonprofit charitable organization in connection with the sale or distribution of an alcoholic beverage, subject to specification limitations:

The donation is only in connection with the sale or distribution of manufacturer-sealed alcoholic beverages.

Promotion or advertisement of the donation cannot directly encourage or reference the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

The donation, or advertisement or promotion of the donation, cannot advertise, promote, reference, or benefit any retail licensee, directly or indirectly.

The donation cannot benefit a nonprofit charitable organization established for the specific purpose of benefitting the employees of retail licensees.

*Please note that this provision may be extended by the Legislature before the end of the year, and if extended, it will be updated on the ABC website accordingly.

Reference: 25511 B&P, 25600 B&P

 

Will the Department waive any license fees for businesses impacted by the fires?

Yes, in an effort to assist business owners with recovery, the Department will waive certain fees for licensees in the impacted areas.  This includes license certificate replacement fees and late penalty fees for annual renewal notices.

Further, any pending administrative disciplinary action will be held in suspense during this time of recovery.

 

What if the department has filed an accusation against my license?

Any pending administrative disciplinary action will be held in suspense during this time of recovery.

 

What about closure of an ABC licensed premises?

If a premise closes fora period that exceeds 15 days, or closes permanently, the law requires the business to surrender their license. Licensees can use the

Form ABC-231 located on the ABC website to surrender their license.

Once this is complete, suppliers may pick-up alcoholic beverages and credit the account of the retailer.

Reference: Rule 65 CCR, Rule 79 CCR

 

Can a retail licensee return its inventory to a supplier?

The ABC Act allows for the return of inventory damaged in fires provided they are returned in exchange for the identical quantity, brand, size of container and item.

It should be noted that suppliers are not required to accept the return of alcoholic beverages from retailers.

Reference: 23104.1 B&P, 23104.2 B&P, 23104.3 B&P

 

What about sales or returns by insurers or surrendered licensees?

The ABC Act permits a licensee who has surrendered or canceled their license to sell their stock of lawfully acquired alcoholic beverages to a licensee or licensees who are authorized to resell the alcoholic beverages.

The licensee can apply with the Department to sell their stock of alcoholic beverages to any licensee or licensees authorized to resell such alcoholic beverages.

An insurer may, after permission has been granted by the Department, take possession of alcoholic beverages, the containers of which have been damaged by fire, and sell them to licensees who are authorized to sell the alcoholic beverages.

Reference: 23100 B&P, 23104 B&P, Rule 79 (c) CCR, Rule79 (e) CCR

 

What must someone who surrendered a license do prior to selling their stock of alcoholic beverages to another licensee?

Form ABC-273 must be completed and submitted to the local ABC office. This form is the application by a former licensee to sell their stock of alcoholic beverages. The form is needed to request permission to sell the stock of alcoholic beverages that remain in inventory once the ABC license is surrendered or canceled pursuant to Rule 65.

Reference: Rule 65 CCR

California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control

About the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control
The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) is the agency of the government of the state of California charged with the regulation of alcoholic beverages. ABC’s mission is to provide the highest level of service and public safety to the people of California through licensing, education, and enforcement. ABC is a department of the Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency.

Visit for more information: https://www.abc.ca.gov/education/rbs

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