Last Updated on August 29, 2023 by Lydia Martin
If you want to sell alcoholic beverages or expand your existing business by serving alcohol, Pennsylvania requires you to get a liquor license, depending on your business model, subject to supply and demand.
As a business owner, you must know the different permits or liquor licenses and the costs involved.
I talked to a friend who resided in the area and asked how much a liquor license in Pennsylvania is. Find out more below.
11 Pennsylvania Liquor License Types
1. Distributor (D) Liquor License
This liquor license is essential for selling alcoholic beverages to other licensees (i.e., retail licenses). Whether it’s a bar, restaurant, or retail store, it permits alcohol sales in large quantities for resale.
The estimated license fees are as follows:
- For a malt beverage distributor – $600
- Malt beverage importing distributors – $1350 (with restrictions from the County-quota law)
2. Club (C) and Catering Club (CC) Liquor License
If you want to sell malt beverages to a private club or organization, you need these C and CC licenses for around $125-$150.
“While waiving certain licensing fees won’t bring that much financial relief, it is a matter of principle to help those who are able to survive until then, and as we have said in the past, it is one piece of the puzzle.” – Chuck Moran, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association
This license covers a more restricted form of alcohol service, and the fee for obtaining this license depends on the municipality/county.
3. Eating Place (E) Liquor Licenses
A restaurant owner seeking to serve alcohol alongside meals must process an E-liquor license. This license is required for establishments that serve food and alcohol  as an accompaniment.
The associated license may start from $200-$400, depending on the population of your municipality.
4. Sunday Sales (SS) Permit
If you already possess a valid retail license, this SS permit is an additional authorization to retail liquor on Sundays.
This license offers greater flexibility but comes with its own cost and demand, typically around $300, depending on the license type it accompanies.
5. Hotel (H) Liquor License
Hotels and other lodging establishments can apply for an H license, allowing offering alcoholic and brewed beverages to guests.
The fee for this H license can be around $250-$700, depending on the number of rooms, the hotel’s classification, and the population.
(Note: This license is not under the quota system.)
6. Amusement Permit (AP)
This AP license is crucial for venues that host events where liquor is served, such as concerts or sporting events.
This liquor license adds a layer of legality to the liquor service during events. The fee is lower than other Pennsylvania liquor licenses, which calculates to 1/5 of the annual license fee.
7. Extended Hours Food (EHF) Permit
If your business wishes to continue serving liquor (other than food) beyond the standard closing hours, the EHF license is a necessary addition to your existing license.
Like other licenses, it comes with its own fee, allowing your business to cater to late-night customers.
8. Restaurant (R) Liquor License
Unlike the Eating Place License, this Restaurant Liquor License allows liquor sales without food as the primary focus.
Obtaining this license type is required if your restaurant offers an extensive selection of alcoholic drinks, like wine, beer, and other types of liquor.
The cost is about $250-$700 (to $5000 for establishments in wagering locations or racetracks).
9. License Limited Winery (LK)
Wineries interested in selling their own wine products directly to consumers or retail license holders can obtain an LK license with a fee of $385.
This liquor license lets you distribute wine on-premise and sometimes at off-premise events.
10. Limited Distillery (AL) License
Like the AL License, owners of distilleries must purchase an AL License to sell alcohol directly to consumers and distributors. The fees involved amount to around $1500.
11. Brewery (G) License
Breweries, whether small craft operations or larger establishments, must secure a G License to retail beer to consumers, as per the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), which must be paid for around $1425.
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Pennsylvania License Cheat Sheet
|License Type|| |
|Distributor (D) Liquor License|| |
|Club (C) and Catering Club (CC) Liquor License|| |
|Eating Place (E) Liquor License|| |
|Sunday Sales (SS) Permit|| |
|Hotel (H) Liquor License|| |
|Amusement Permit (AP)|| |
⅕ of the annual fee
|Extended Hours Food (EHF) Permit|| |
|Restaurant (R) Liquor License|| |
|Limited Winery (LK) License|| |
|Limited Distillery (AL) License|| |
|Brewery (G) License|| |
**Note: The license fees mentioned are based on CCH/Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting US.
Understanding PA Liquor License Requirements & Laws
There are different types of liquor licenses in Pennsylvania, with each license type tailored for a specific business model and comes with its own set of regulations, eligibility criteria, and associated fees.
“Success pours in when legality and libations blend in compliance.” – Liquor Laboratory
Regulated by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, here are some of the requirements to purchase liquor licenses in Pennsylvania:
- Proof of residency and employment for the past five years, plus valid ID
- No criminal record
- The location of the business for the licenses
- Money for the filing fees, legal fees, and other charges
How To Get A PA Liquor License
To get liquor licenses in PA , you have four options to try, including:
- New license: May be restricted by the quota system, which may vary depending on the type of business
- Place-to-place transfer: A license change from one location to some other licensed premises under the same ownership
- Person-to-person transfer: A successful liquor license transfer to another owner within the exact location
- Double transfer: License is transferred to another owner and location
What Pennsylvania county has the most liquor licenses?
The Pennsylvania county with the most liquor licenses is Philadelphia due to its vibrant nightlife and bustling restaurant scene. Most rural counties/municipalities in PA record having the most licenses.
How long do PA liquor licenses last?
A PA liquor license lasts about one year, particularly for wholesale and retail licenses. But there are fewer licenses whose validation and renewal cycles can vary.
Can alcohol be sold in PA without a license?
No, alcohol cannot be sold in PA without a license. State law strictly regulates PA liquor license sales, and operating without a license can have serious legal consequences.
How do I get a license for liquor to be sold in PA?
To get liquor licenses in PA, complete a detailed application process through the PLCB. This procedure involves background checks, financial documentation, and compliance with zoning regulations.
Understanding the various Pennsylvania liquor license types and the costs involved is crucial if you want to serve liquor. Different licenses cater to specific business models, such as a restaurant, a club, and a bar.
This can be a complicated process, requiring attention to state regulations, zoning laws, and financial considerations (PA revenue).
The license fees range from around $125-$1500, based on the license type, plus additional charges, like filing and renewal fees.
We suggest seeking legal advice or consulting professionals with experience in licensing liquors to streamline the application process and ensure that your business operates within the bounds of the law.