New Law on Liquor Licenses Should Apply Starting November

August 31, 2012

ABC Real Estate Costa Rica

by: Federico José Fernández

Law No. 10, which regulated the sale of liquor for over 75 years, has now been replaced by a new law as of August 8, 2012. The Municipalities have three months to enforce it, so the changes should apply by early November, 2012. The new law, called “Ley para la Regulación y Comercialización de Bebidas con Contenido Alcohólico,” seeks to: eliminate speculation, create equilibrium between economic development and control of the activity of selling liquor, strengthen municipalities’ financial independence, and eliminate an existing black market for such licenses.

The new law eliminates the possibility for holders of licenses granted prior to its enforcement to sell, rent, or transfer the licenses. This ends a very lucrative business limited to a few holders of these permits.

Now, in order to get a permit to sell alcoholic beverages, the interested party has to solicit it at the local municipality, complying with certain requirements that respect the “Plan Regulador,” the specific “Uso de Suelo” for the place where the permit will be exploited, avoid social risk, and other requirements.

Additionally, the distance between the business that sells liquor and such places as schools, universities, churches, hospitals, and clinics is now established at a minimum of 400 meters; locations within commercial centers being an exception. Permits will not be granted in neighborhoods clearly established as residential. Type B licenses that include bars, discotheques, clubs, and cabarets will be granted in districts at the highest density of one per every 300 citizens. The lowest cost for these concessions will be 180,000.00 colones per quarter (around USD$120 per month).

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