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Interacting with the TTB part 2: Permit application filings

This post is number 2 following up on my blog from 3 weeks ago in which I shared my tips for successfully interacting with the TTB’s main office in Cincinnati if you have questions related to your winery’s  TTB permit or reports. That area however is just one leg of the overall successful management of any winery’s TTB compliance. The other leg is what I’ll share my tips for today. Specifically the topic I refer to is either an original application for a new winery or wine wholesaler business or an amendment type of filing if you’re already an existing TTB permit holder.

During the process of submitting an application to the TTB, either when you are starting a new wine business or if you already hold a TTB winery basic permit and need to update the ownership details, or your bonded premise area or are moving from one premise address to a new one (all examples that require a permit amendment filing)  there are specific steps in the preparation and follow up process that knowing ahead of time will make it go much smoother and more than likely faster.

Here are my tips sectioned out by the two areas of applications submitted to the TTB.  As in my earlier post the TTB office you are interacting with is their National Revenue Center (NRC) office in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Applications for a new TTB permit using the Permits Online system:

  1. If you are responsible for filing a TTB application first make sure that you have power of attorney for your winery’s permit so that you will be able to interact with the TTB staff for this necessary follow up. (A TTB power of attorney form can be submitted as part of submitting a new permit application)
  2. Pay attention to the current approval time frames for your application type and make a mark out on your calendar for around 2 to 3 weeks before the end of that current approval cycle and call their offices (855-882-7665) and press 2. When you actually get through to a live person tell them you are calling in reference to your Permits Online application tracking # and the name of the business on the permit application. 
  3. They will then be able to give you the name and contact # for the TTB specialist who is handling your application. TTB email format by the way is: firstname.lastname@ttb.gov
  4. Reach out to them by phone and if you are successful in reaching them directly reference who you are, the Permits Online tracking number for your application and the business name. Let them know that you are checking in to confirm the approval status of your application and whether or not anything else is still required on your end to complete their review and approve it.
  5. If you have to leave a voicemail then also follow up by sending them an email w/the same request.
  6. If you don’t receive a response back in a week then reach out again.
  7. Once you have established contact with the specialist handling your application make sure on your end that you are responsive to any additional requests they have regarding your application. If an email is sent to you try to respond back the same day. 

Existing TTB permit holder amendment applications:

  1. The first step is specific to how your original TTB permit application was filed. Was it submitted via mail in hard copy form to the TTB offices or was it submitted (after early 2011) via their Permits Online system? Depending on which of these it was will then determine how you continue to submit all amendment application filings moving forward. So you’re either “old school” (hard copy, snail mail) or “new school” (permits online- everything sent electronically) .
  2. Once you’ve determined your answer to #1 the next step is to prepare the information or forms you’ll need to submit with the application. Here’s a handy reference list of required permit amendment filings “after original qualification” as the TTB calls it. This list is useful to both snail mail and online filers, however in the case of a winery that is filing using the Permits Online system some of the required forms on this list won’t apply, but rather you fill in the required information via the TTB’s online forms.
  3. If you are submitting via hard copy, snail mail make sure to create a duplicate set of the completed application forms to send in. I also recommend that when your applications are ready to send in that they are sent with some form of delivery confirmation so you know when they arrived safely at the TTB offices. 
  4. Follow up. Give it at least 4 weeks after the date you know your application was received before beginning making any contact w/the TTB offices. Here again you’d call their main contact # of 855-882-7665 and press # 2. Tell the person the details of your winery’s TTB BW #, business name, the date your application was received into their offices, and that you are calling to confirm it’s review status. If they can they will give you the name of the TTB specialist handling your file.
  5. Once you know the TTB specialist with your application you can follow you can follow steps 4 through 7 from above to make contact and follow up through your application’s approval.

My final tip across the board for TTB applications:

  1. Be persistent- but not a pest! And in the process of being persistent be professional. (consider yourself a diplomat for your winery)
  2. Be aware that there are many new staff members at the TTB offices, many of whom are brand new to the winery regulation world. So the more familiar you are with what forms, information and documentation are true requirements vs. what is not is valuable knowledge to have.