How do I apply for a Pennsylvania liquor license?

There are several different ways in which to obtain a liquor license in Pennsylvania. To obtain a new license, an application must be submitted to the state’s Bureau of Licensing to be reviewed by the Board. All applications and forms can be found on the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board’s website, www.lcb.state.pa.us

An applicant might also obtain a liquor license through the transfer of an existing license from a person currently owning and/or operating a licensed establishment. There are three scenarios in which this can occur.

If the ownership of a licensed establishment should change, the new owner must submit an application with the state to have the existing license transferred to him/her. Upon approval of the application, the new owner would be allowed to operate at the same premises.

If a license-holding owner should wish to change the location of their establishment without a change in ownership, an application would need to be submitted to the state.

An application must also be submitted if both the owner of the license and the location of the establishment will change.

Who is required to get a liquor license?

The state of Pennsylvania requires that anyone wishing to distribute or sell alcoholic beverages must apply for a liquor license and be approved to do so. The owner of the license must follow all of the regulations set forth by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB).

Who governs the issuance of a Liquor License in Pennsylvania?

All matters pertaining to the licensing and transferring of liquor licenses must be reviewed and approved by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

How long is a Pennsylvania Liquor License valid?

Typically, wholesale and retail liquor licenses must be renewed every other year.

In the opposite year, validation of these licenses must be reviewed. There are several other types of licenses and permits whose renewal and validation cycles can vary.

What is the quota system? On what is it based?

Generally, the distribution of liquor licenses in Pennsylvania is regulated by what is called the “quota system”. Based upon statistics gathered in the ten-year census, one retail liquor license is available for every three thousand inhabitants of a county. Once the quota has been met, no new liquor licenses will be issued. If an owner wishes to move their business into a municipality that has already met their quota, written permission must be granted by the municipality prior to the Board’s consideration of the application.

If I sell my establishment, can the new owner operate on my license until theirs is approved?

No. In order for the new owner to be allowed to operate, they must complete and submit an application for the transfer of a liquor license to the Bureau of Licensing and await approval before being allowed to operate. All forms and applications can be found on the PLCB’s webpage, www.lcb.state.pa.us

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