Licensing Requirements in Washington State

June 5, 2023 – Now that summer weather is upon us in the Pacific Northwest, people are in the mood to hold events and throw various types of parties. However, it’s important to know that there are requirements and restrictions for holding an event in the state of Washington. Below are some of the guidelines for individuals or organizations wanting to hold a formal event.

Catering License 

According to WAC 314-02-112: 

(1) A caterer’s license allows the licensee to sell spirits, beer, and wine by the individual serving for consumption on the premises at a catered event location.
(2) The catered event location must be owned, leased, or operated by:
(a) The holder of the caterer’s license; or
(b) The sponsor of the event for which the catering services are being provided.
(3) The caterer licensee is responsible for all areas of a location where alcohol is sold, served, consumed, or stored.
(4) If the catered event is open and advertised to the public, the event must be sponsored by a nonprofit society or organization as defined in RCW  66.24.375.
(a) A registered nonprofit holding a public or civic event may invite a caterer to provide alcohol service at a location within the parameters of the event.
(b) If attendance at the catered event is limited to members or invited guests of the sponsoring individual, society, or organization, the requirement in subsection (2) of this section does not apply.
(5) A spirits, beer, and wine caterer licensee must have the ability to serve at least four complete meals. A commissary kitchen, licensed by the city and/or county health department, shall be maintained in a substantial manner as a place for preparing and cooking complete meals. The caterer licensee must maintain the kitchen equipment necessary to prepare the complete meals required under this section. The complete meals must be prepared at the licensed commissary kitchen premises. “Complete meal” is defined in WAC  314-02-010.
(6) A beer and wine caterer licensee must have the ability to provide minimum food service. A commissary kitchen shall be maintained in a substantial manner as a place for preparing and cooking minimum food service. The caterer licensee must maintain the kitchen equipment necessary to prepare minimum food service required under this section. The minimum food service must be prepared at the licensed commissary kitchen premises. “Minimum food service” is defined in WAC  314-02-010.
(7) Licensees holding a caterer’s license may share a commissary kitchen under the following conditions:
(a) Each licensee has their own secure area for their own liquor stock. Liquor stock cannot be shared.
(b) If using a shared commissary kitchen, each applicant/licensee must provide a sketch of the commissary kitchen to licensing indicating the separate secured area for each licensee.
(8) The applicant must provide the liquor and cannabis board with a copy of their commissary kitchen license issued by the city or county health department.
(9)(a) The licensee is required to send a list of scheduled catered events to their regional enforcement office on the first of each month. The licensee must provide the following information:
(i) Date of the catered events;
(ii) Time of the catered events; and
(iii) Place and location of catered events.
(b) Any changes to the information provided to the board must be reported to the regional enforcement office 72 hours prior to the catered event.
(10) A caterer’s license holder is not allowed to cater events at a liquor licensed premises.
(11) The holder of the caterer’s license may store liquor on other premises operated by the licensee if the licensee owns or has a leasehold interest at the other premises. Documentation must be provided to the board showing the licensee owns or has a leasehold interest in the property.
(12) All employees that sell or serve alcohol must hold MAST permits.
(13) The annual fee for the caterer’s license is as follows:
(a) The annual fee for beer is $200;
(b) The annual fee for wine is $200; and
(c) The annual fee for a combined spirits, beer, and wine is $1,000.


Special Event License: 

  • Cost: $60 per day, per location
  • Applications available online
    • Special Occasion Application: 
    • Special Occasion all ages outdoor event Addendum;
      This form is only needed if you are having an event outdoors and want minors and alcohol to co-mingle. Filing out this application does not grant you the permission to have minors in your enclosed beer garden area. If you are approved you will be notified by the Board.
    • Submit your application and fee 45 days before the event to:
      • Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board
        Licensing and Regulation Division
        P.O. Box 43085
        Olympia, WA 98504-3098
  • Available to bona fide nonprofit organizations
  • Allows sales of spirits, beer and wine by individual serving for on-premises consumption
  • The local authority (i.e. mayor or county executive) will be notified of your application and have the opportunity to weigh in on the application
  • Organizations are limited to 12 single-day events per calendar year
  • Special occasion licensees may not advertise or sell alcohol below cost
  • You may purchase spirits from a domestic (in-state) Spirits Distributor, Spirits Retailer licensee, Craft Distillery, or Distillery. You may also purchase spirits from a U.S. distillery holding a Spirits Out-of-State Certificate of Approval (COA) with Washington to ship spirits directly to licensed retailers. Beer or wine may be purchased wholesale or retail.


Nightclub Licenses: 

After the event we could look into Nightclub liquor licenses

The full fact sheet is here but some main point include:

  • Has an annual fee of $2,000
  • Mat only be issued ro a person whose business includes the sale and service of alcohol
  • Has no food requirement
  • Has primary business house between 9pm-2am
  • Requires employees to hold a Mandatory Alcohol Server Training (MAST) permit
  • Grant’s WSLCB authority ti review and set fees at a level sufficient to defray the cost of licensing and enforcing this license;
  • Allows local government to petition the WSLCB to request further restriction be imposed on the license in the interest of public safety (EX: no minor at all times, submitting a security plan, signing a good neighbor agreement with the local government); and
  • Allow minors but only in areas where alcohol is not served or consumed

If you have any questions about these requirements, or want help making sure you are meeting all the requirements listed by the state, contact Gleam Law and one of our attorneys can help.