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How to Obtain a Catering License in California

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Obtaining a catering license is the most important aspect of running a catering business because there can be legal implications for operating without one. The office in charge of catering licenses varies from state to state, but in California, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) is in charge of issuing and regulating these licenses.

Go to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control web site at Under the forms section, open and print Form ABC-239, Correction and Application Request. See Form ABC-525 for instructions to complete this form.

Fill in all of the required information on Form ABC-525, and submit it along with the required fee to your nearest ABC office. A list of locations can be found on the ABC web site.

Wait for the form to be reviewed. If your application is accepted, you’ll receive your license by mail from the main ABC office in Sacramento.

Submit an application for each event you cater. Form ABC-218 must be submitted at least three days in advance of each event, along with a processing fee. As of April 2010, this fee is $10. Check the ABC web site for an updated listing of fees.


Tiffany Ameh has been writing articles since 2009. She attended California Baptist University in 2004 and is pursuing her Bachelor of Science in holistic nutrition at El Camino College.

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