Beverage Operator's License

Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option

*In an effort to limit exposure and to reduce the spread of COVID-19, we encourage applications be mailed or placed in the drop box at City Hall.*

Drop Boxes:
Red - accessible 24/7 located on the north side of City Hall.
Green - accessible only during lobby hours inside the main entrance. 

Place application & applicable fee in a sealed envelope labeled for the City Clerk.

License Type and Fees

There are three types of Beverage Operator's Licenses - see the chart below for details.

License fees are non-refundable and due at the time of application filing.  Fees can be paid by cash, check payable to City Treasurer or credit with a convenience fee.

FEE REDUCTIONS for license year commencing July 1, 2020:

On May 14, 2020, the Common Council approved a reduction in the Beverage Operator (2-year) license fee as follows:

Beverage Operator License - from $50 to $25

Applicants who have already submitted payment at the higher fee(s) may request a refund in writing to the City Clerk.  The request must be received NO LATER than August 12, 2020 and include the name of licensee and a mailing address for the refund.  The request must be submitted via email to, by postal mail or using one of the drop boxes on the north side of City Hall.  Refunds will be processed in a timely matter.

If you have questions about a refund, please contact the City Clerk's Office at 608-789-7510 (press 5).

Type Fee Conditions
2-Year $50.00 Background check conducted by the Police Department.
Approval by the Common Council - 2nd Thursday each month (deadline 15 days prior).
Completion of the "Responsible Beverage Server" Course Required (unless exempt, see #5 below).
60-Day Provisional $15.00 Background check conducted by the Police Department.
Must also apply for 2-year license; this license serves as a provisional until such time as Council approves the 2-year.
Limit of one (1) license per license year.
14-Day Temporary $20.00 Issued only to beverage operators employed by, or donating services to, non-profit corporations.
Background check conducted by the Police Department.
Limit of two (2) per calendar year.

What steps are necessary to obtain a license?

Applications are being accepted in-person during lobby hours (M-Th 8a-1p), by mail or drop box; they must be complete (legible and signed) and be accompanied by the required documentation.

*If this is an original application, the Responsible Beverage Server certification must accompany the application.
*If transferring a license from another Wisconsin municipality, a copy of the license must accompany the application.

Additional Information

Department of Revenue Fact Sheet - Operator's Licenses (8.20.2018) 

When is a beverage operator’s license required?
Any person 18 years of age or older who is serving, selling or dispensing alcohol beverages must obtain an operator’s license, unless under the immediate supervision of a person with an operator’s license or agent of the licensed establishment. “Immediate supervision” means the operator or agent must be able to, at all times, see and hear the activities of those persons serving alcohol beverages.

Is the license good anywhere in the State of Wisconsin?
No; only in the city limits of La Crosse. Each municipality licenses separately.

When is a beverage operator’s license likely to be denied by the Police Department?
Subject to Wisconsin’s Fair Employment Act, the applicant may not have been convicted of a felony, which substantially relates to the alcohol beverage licensing activity, or be a “habitual law offender.” If any delinquent or outstanding fine/fees/charges are due the City, there will be a hold placed on the license until proof of payment is presented.

What are some training options?
"Legal/Responsible Beverage Server Course” (online) approved by the Department of Revenue.

Do I have to take the training?
Yes, unless you: (1) have taken the training within the last two years, (2) have held a beverage operator’s license from any municipality in Wisconsin within the last two years, (3) have been an agent on a retail license within the last two years or (4) are applying for a 14-day temporary beverage operator’s license.

May I work once the license fee is paid?
If with another licensed operator or the agent, yes. If working alone, no. A receipt is not a license.

When will a license be mailed to me?
Following Council approval on the second Thursday of the month, the license will be mailed. If applying for the 60-day provisional license, following approved background and delinquency checks (typically 4-5 working days).

Pursuant to Resolution 17-1333, view the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s handout titled Engaging Bystanders to Prevent Sexual Violence as sexual violence prevention is a relevant local concern.


For more information, contact the City Clerk's Office at (608) 789-7510.

Free viewers are required for some of the attached documents.
They can be downloaded by clicking on the icons below.

Acrobat Reader Download Acrobat Reader Flash Player Download Flash Player Windows Media Player Download Windows Media Player Microsoft Silverlight Download Microsoft Silverlight Word Viewer Download Word Viewer Excel Viewer Download Excel Viewer PowerPoint Viewer Download PowerPoint Viewer