How to Obtain a PA Liquor License

In many cases, how to obtain a PA liquor license can be a long and complex process. To learn more about liquor licenses, read “Understanding the Types of PA Liquor Licenses.

Because PA is a controlled alcohol state, getting a liquor license requires purchasing and transferring one that already exists in the county and preferably the municipality where you want to operate. The transfer process is regulated by the  Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) which has a Board and Executive Team.

Statuses of PA Liquor Licenses

Licenses are either in use, labeled “active” by the PLCB, or not currently in use, labeled “suspended,” “expired,” or in “safekeeping.” Licenses that are “active” or in “safekeeping” can typically be sold and transferred by the license holder. Licenses that are “expired” are auctioned off periodically by the PLCB in a closed envelope bidding system.

What You Need to Buy A Liquor License

You must be able to supply the following information to buy and transfer a liquor license:

  1. A commercial address to transfer the license to
  2. The cost of the license and additional money for legal fees
    • If upfront cash is a hold up for your purchase of a liquor license, you can consider liquor license financing for 50% of the license cost. Learn more.
  3. Documentation of residence information and employment information for the last five years and a valid ID

You also must have a clean record and no interlocking interests. Have any questions about what you need to obtain a PA liquor license, contact PA Liquor License Company.

Types of Liquor License Transfer

There are several types of liquor license transfers in PA. A successful transfer is required to purchase a liquor license.

Person-to-person transfers occur if you buy a location (licensed premise) that has a liquor license associated with it.

Place-to-place transfers occur if you have a license and need to transfer it to a different location.

A Double Transfer is often what occurs if you are trying to buy a liquor license in PA for use on a commercial location. This means that the address (licensed premise) and ownership will both transfer.

An Intermunicipal Transfer is required if you purchase a liquor license from a different municipality than you intend to operate it in. If this isn’t approved, you cannot go forward with buying/ transferring a license.

Have questions about buying or selling liquor licenses?  Contact PA Liquor License Company.

The PCLB Transfer Process

The PCLB transfer process can take several months. Once you file for a transfer, the PLCB Bureau of Licensing completes a thorough investigation to determine whether or not they will complete the transfer.

To complete this process, you will work closely with Liquor License Attorneys who facilitate the process and interact on your behalf with the Bureau of licensing. It can be overwhelming to go at it alone, or try to find experts in the field! But at PA Liquor License Company, we have done all that hard work and can connect you with our proven network of professionals. Contact PA Liquor License Company so we can make the transfer process smooth and easy!

The process is broken down into several steps:

  1. Intermunicipal Transfer Hearing (if needed)
    • This process can take 1-6 months as it requires a public hearing in the municipality you are trying to transfer the license into. Our team of experts can assist you with this process as it requires a formal presentation by your liquor license attorney.
    • Your new location will need to be at least 300 ft from schools, churches, playgrounds, and other licensed establishments. A location that’s not favorable may cause issues with the approval for the Intermunicipal transfers
    • If approved you can move on to filing for the transfer.
  2. Filing for the Person-to-Person, Place-to-Place, or Double Transfer
  3. Post the Orange Notice
    • This notice must be posted on the location where your liquor license will be used. It is a public notice that the liquor license is being transferred and it allows people to object to the transfer for the next 30 days.
    • Residents who live or have an establishment within 500 ft can make a formal protest to be considered.
  4. Investigation-
    • Starts within 15 days of the filing.
    • The investigation includes a report from the investigator who will interview you and request several documents. The investigation ensures that you have the financial means to purchase the license, that you don’t have a criminal record or any interlocking interest.
  5. Specialist Report
    • A specialist in Harrisburg receives a report from the investigator and completes their report.
  6. Board approval
    • Depending on the type of transfer this can be done administratively or require extra approval for the board.
  7. Closing and Payment


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