Do You Need a Liquor License in Puerto Rico?

by Tom Streissguth, Demand Media
    Puerto Rico does not require merchants to obtain a separate liquor license.

    Puerto Rico does not require merchants to obtain a separate liquor license.

    A territory of the United States, Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island with a laid-back attitude toward the sale and consumption of alcohol. If you intend to open a retail store in Puerto Rico, for instance, you must follow the local law on business registration and taxes, but a liquor license is not required. There is a legal drinking age, however, and various local rules on drinking in public.

    Alcohol Regulations

    Puerto Rico has no restrictions on the sale of alcohol other than a legal drinking age of 18; the law bans the sale of liquor to minors. If you own a retail business such as a grocery store, you can sell beer, wine and liquor freely, without obtaining a separate license. Liquor sales are conducted in bars, restaurants and stores, in hotels, and by small vendors in tourist areas such as beaches. The police will enforce public-drinking bans in the capital of San Juan and other cities, but the laws are not enforced during public festivals, street parades and the like.

    Building Permits

    If you are raising a new structure for your business, you will need to obtain a construction permit from the Regulation and Permits Administration. This is the agency that sanctions demolition of old buildings and the raising of commercial signs and advertisements, and enforces environmental laws for businesses.

    Merchants Registry

    If you sell or manufacture goods in Puerto Rico, including liquor, your business must also register with the Merchants Registry of the Department of the Treasury. This registration is also required if you are shipping goods to the island, or bringing liquor or other goods for sale during a seminar, meeting, convention or other business event.

    Patente Municipal

    In addition to the Treasury registration, you must obtain a municipal business license, known in Spanish as a "patente municipal," in order to operate a for-profit company in Puerto Rico. The application must be made in the municipality where your business is located within 30 days of the start of operations. The municipality imposes a license tax calculated on a maximum .5 percent of your gross sales.

    About the Author

    Tom Streissguth has authored more than 100 books for the school and library market, including works for the Gale, Enslow, Facts on File and Lerner Publications. He is the founder of The Archive, an independent publisher of historical journalism collections, and holds a Bachelor of Arts from Yale University.

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