You have your liquor license and adoring patrons who now want you to cater their events– a holiday dinner in Big Sur, a Twitter party at a loft, or maybe providing cocktails for a charity event.

None of those magical things can happen until your event is authorized with the Dept. of ABC. Please think of catering events as a two-step process. Here are some things to know about properly catering your events:


Get Your Catering License

First and foremost, Type 41 & Type 47 licenses allow you to easily obtain a Type 58 Catering Permit. This is a simple, quick process that you will want to make sure is in place well-before any potential events. Don’t procrastinate though, this will become a nightmare when your event is scheduled! Send a check for $127 (no CC’s, this is the Dept. of ABC) along with this form, NOTARIZED, to your local ABC District Office to get that in order. Or, make the trip yourself and an ABC employee can sign off, no notarization needed. Also a good time to ask them about any upcoming events and what they will require.


Fill Out Your Event Authorization Form

The next step is to determine if an Event Authorization is needed – the rule of thumb is: if the event is PRIVATE, no alcohol will be sold, and the venue is not licensed, nothing further needs to be done.  If the event is PUBLIC or alcohol will be sold, well, of course, there’s more. That next step is to complete this form, ABC 218.  Most ticketed events are considered public and require the Authorization, so call us if you are unsure of your event designation.

If an Event Authorization is required and it is PUBLIC and/or over 500 people, you may need police department approval. Police departments like to have 2 weeks to review, so best to submit a completed ABC 218 to the PD at least 3-4 weeks prior to the event (before submitting to the ABC). Sometimes they have their own Event Authorization forms, so check with your local PD to find out.  The landlord may be required to sign off on your event, and a diagram may also be required, so check with us or with ABC to determine what all is needed. The ABC 218 is a short form that takes a LONG time to complete, so start EARLY!


Submit the Forms to the Department of ABC

ABC likes a week notice to your event. So submit your ABC 218 form good and early with a check ($25 per isolated serving station but these rules are tricky so confirm fees prior to sending.)

Note: If you’re submitting less than 5 business days before the event date, you will need a certified check or money order for ABC to process it on time. 

Get in the habit of submitting your event authorization requests as early as possible to keep yourself in good standing with the Department of ABC.  Be respectful when you’re submitting, the intake officers at ABC are your gatekeepers.  And of course, reach out to us if you have any questions for a specific situation.  We love to hear what you’re up to.

To many joyous and successful events…