A Privilege That Caters to Licensees


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Licensees looking to cater food and alcoholic beverages at a wedding, birthday party, anniversary or any private event will find the catering privilege a valuable addition to a liquor license. And the best part of adding the catering privilege is that it doesn’t cost a thing!

The catering privilege is available to licensees that hold an annual class “B” or “C” liquor license. The catering privilege allows these licensees to provide and serve alcoholic liquor, wine, and beer as part of a food catering service for a private social gathering in a private place. The food and alcoholic beverages must be served to guests of the private social gathering without cost and neither the host of the event or the licensee may solicit donations in payment for the food or alcoholic beverages. A licensee catering food and alcoholic beverages must maintain a record that includes the date the catering was provided and the name and address of the host of the event.

  • For the event to qualify as a private social gathering, the private place must be a location that meets all of the following criteria:
  • Attendees are limited to the bona fide social host and invited guests; the general public may not have access at the time alcoholic beverages are kept, dispensed and consumed.
  • Not of a commercial nature.
  • Goods or services are not sold or purchased at the time alcoholic beverages are dispensed and consumed.
  • Use of the location was obtained without charge or rent or any other thing of value was exchanged for its use.
  • No admission fee or other kind of entrance fee, fare, ticket, donation or charge is made or required of invited guests to enter.
  • Not a licensed premises.

For those licensees that don’t qualify for the catering privilege there is always the possibility of transferring a license or obtaining a special event license.

License Transfers

A license may be transferred within the boundaries of the approving local authority. The minimum transfer period is 24 hours. All selling and serving of alcoholic beverages must cease at the original location during the transfer period. Only those alcoholic beverages permitted by the license may be sold on the premises to which the license has been transferred. A license transfer must be applied for and approved by the local authority and the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division.

The location a license is being transferred to may not already be a licensed premise. If the location does hold a license, that licensee may file a premise update to unlicense a portion of their premises allowing the transferring licensee to apply for a transfer to the newly unlicensed area.

Special Event Licenses

A special event license allows the license holder to sell and dispense alcoholic beverages for a shorter period of time; a 5-day license is the shortest special event license available. Licensing requirements for a 5-day license are the same as the requirements for an annual license of the same class.


Summer and fall are perfect times for festivities and with many alternatives, licensees may choose what licensing option best suites the occasion. To review your special event questions with a licensing specialist contact the Division at 866.469.2223, option 1 or 515.281.7400, option 1.