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The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code issues temporary permits in two scenarios:
Individuals are not eligible to obtain a temporary permit to sell alcoholic beverages if they do not hold a TABC retailer permit and they do not represent a civic, religious or charitable organization.
A Temporary License/Permit Application Packet with instructions is available on our website. (You may need to scroll down.)
To avoid processing delays, the application should be submitted ten business days in advance of an event.
Attached is a list of temporary permits issued by TABC, who is eligible to apply for them, and which chapter in the Alcoholic Beverage Code addresses them.
TABC Marketing Practice Bulletin MPB026 includes a summary of various options available to charitable, religious or civic organizations wishing to serve alcoholic beverages at fundraising events. This bulletin discusses the receipt of donations by charitable, religious or civic organizations from members of the alcoholic beverage industry.
It is legal to provide free alcoholic beverages without a permit. However, to be truly "free," it must be available to any adult who walks in the door and requests it. If alcoholic beverages are only available to paying customers, the assumption is that the cost of the alcohol is included in the price of the service. This constitutes a sale of alcoholic beverages, and a TABC permit would be required. When you provide the alcoholic beverage, there cannot be any expectation of receiving money. You cannot ask for a "donation" or "tip." If the drinks will only be available to paying guests, then you will need a permit.
Some examples: A wedding reception with free drinks is really free. A boutique that serves free wine while you shop, even if you don't buy anything, is really free. A nail salon with a "free" drink when you pay for a manicure is not really free. If you buy tickets to attend a charity ball and they serve "free" drinks, those are not really free. If a tip jar sits next to a keg of beer expecting "donations," the beer would not be considered free.