Alcohol Licenses/Permits (Retail)

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Liquor Licenses, Beer Permits, and Wine Permits

In the state of Iowa, applications to sell alcoholic beverages must be submitted electronically. Interested parties should visit the Iowa Alcoholic Beverage Division’s Website ( and complete an electronic application.

By law, the City of Ames is the local authority for all premises located within the city limits. Members of City staff are responsible for conducting certain background investigations to determine if applicants and their proposed premises meet licensing requirements. The Ames City Council must also approve all applications.

It is important, therefore, that you work closely with the City of Ames when applying for a new license. The City Clerk’s Office should be contacted at least 30 days prior to the date you wish your license to take effect.

Regular City Council meetings are usually held twice a month (on the second and fourth Tuesday evenings). Requests must be placed on the Council agenda at least a week in advance and action will be requested only after:

  • the on-line application has been electronically submitted (by the applicant);
  •  coverage of dram shop liability insurance has been certified (by the insurance carrier);
  • criminal history background checks have been approved (by City staff); and
  • the premises have passed inspection (by City staff).

In order to meet eligibility requirements, an applicant must:

  • be a U.S. citizen and an Iowa resident, OR be incorporated to do business in Iowa;
  • have not been convicted of a felony during the last five years;
  • have not had any financial interest in an Iowa liquor, wine or beer license which was revoked during the past two years;
  • have "financial standing" and "good reputation" to indicate that the applicant will comply with all laws and rules governing the license

In addition, the premises must be owned or be under the control of the applicant, and be kept clean, free of litter and in good repair. Licensed premises must conform to all applicable state laws, local ordinances and health and fire regulations.

 Click on the appropriate link below for a checklist for:

on-premises sales (bars, restaurants, private clubs and hotels)
off-premises sales (convenience, grocery, and liquor stores).

Criminal History Background Check forms are available on-line from the Department of Criminal Investigation.


Do you know the law?

Summary of state liquor laws
(link to Iowa Dept. of Commerce, Alcoholic Beverages Division)

Selected Ames laws
(some pertinent sections of Chapter 17 of the Municipal Code of the City of Ames)

17.16 Minors prohibited on certain premises 
17.17 Consumption in public places 
17.18 Beer and Liquor sales by and to young persons 
17.18.1 Indirect sales & sales of unlimited servings of alcoholic beverages prohibited 
17.19 Intoxication in a public place 
17.27 Beer keg party regulations 

For further information on occupancy limits, disposal of waste, etc., refer to Chapters 8 and 11 of the Municipal Code, or contact the Inspections Division.

Keg Registration Information is available from the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division, 866-469-2223