Citizenship Requirements for NYS Alcohol License Applicants

Often the ownership of stock of the corporation by non-citizens is a bar to approval of an application for a liquor license.

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Law provides that a corporation may be licensed to sell alcohol if each of the principal officers and more than half of its directors are citizens of the United States or a “treaty country”. “Treaty countries” are nations with which the United States has treaties of freedom and equality granting reciprocal rights for the citizens of both countries. This list of countries can be found online at

Working with an experience liquor attorney can help determine if you qualify as a citizen of one of the treaty countries.

This does not apply to individual or partnership applicants. A license or permit shall not be issued to a non-citizen unless the individual or each member of the partnership is a citizen of the United States or a country that has a treaty granting reciprocal rights. (Divisional Order # 349, May 19, 1953). In some cases, forming a corporate entity will allow a non-citizen to own a business retailing alcohol.