Understanding the Types of PA Liquor Licenses

Why Do I Need A Liquor License in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania County Map

Pennsylvania is one of 17 controlled states in the United States. In PA, the state sells wine and spirits and regulates the sale of alcoholic beverages through the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB).  Anyone looking to sell alcohol in the state of PA needs an appropriate license from the PCLB. Each PA county has a limited number of various types of licenses determined by the County-Quota Law. Typically quotas are set to 1 license for every 3,000 citizens in a county and updated every ten years.

In controlled states, municipalities can also be designated as “dry,” meaning the sale of alcohol is not permitted. Licenses are not granted in dry municipalities.

Contact PA Liquor License Company for questions about liquor licenses in your county. 

What Type Of PA Liquor License Do I Need?

There are many types of liquor licenses in PA. Each one has different levels of availability, requirements, and demand. Demand (and therefore pricing) also depends on the county and type of license.

Are You Going To Serve Food?

To sell on-premise drinks in PA, you also have to serve “sufficient and acceptable food provisions” regularly and be ready to serve it to 30 or more people. This also means you have to follow PA Health Code regulations for serving food. Below are the kinds of licenses you can use to serve alcohol at your establishment.

Restaurant (R) Liquor License

R Liquor Licenses are the most commonly used license in PA. They permit the sale of alcohol (beer, wine, and liquor) in an establishment that is regularly making and serving food to the public. You might hear this license called a “bar” or “tavern” license. Most convenience stores, gas stations, and grocery stores that have liquor licenses also have this type of license and provide food/seating to meet the requirements. 


Requirements: 

  • 400 sq. ft. minimum 
  • Health license
  • 30 accessible seats
  • Food and dishware for at least 30 patrons

Allows: 

  • Alcohol sales for on-premise consumption
    • Up to 192 fl. oz. of beer to-go
  • Alcohol sales from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. the following day on Monday through Saturday
  • Patrons can stay on premises until 2:30 a.m. (alcohol must be finished or collected by this time)

Eating Place (E) Liquor License

An E license permits the sale of malt and brewed beverages (beer) in an establishment that is regularly making and serving food to the public. These licenses are often called “delicatessen” or “corner store” licenses.

Requirements: 

  • 300 sq. ft. minimum 
  • Health license
  • 30 accessible seats
  • Food and dishware for at least 30 patrons
  • Functioning kitchen/ food prep area on-site

Allows: 

  • Beer sales for on-premise consumption
    • Up to 192 fl. oz. of beer to-go
  • Beer sales from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. the following day on Monday through Saturday.
  • Patrons can stay on premises until 2:30 a.m. (alcohol must be finished or collected by this time)

Hotel (H) Liquor License

This license is for an establishment that provides rooms for transient guests and will be serving them food and alcohol. The requirements and permissions are similar to the “R” license except there are a minimum number of hotel rooms that must also be available.

Requirements: 

  • 400 sq. ft. minimum 
  • Health license
  • 30 accessible seats
  • Food and dishware for at least 30 patrons
  • Functioning kitchen/ food prep area on-site
  • Minimum number of hotel rooms available

Allows: 

  • Alcohol sales for on-premise consumption
    • Up to 192 fl. oz. of beer to-go
  • Alcohol sales from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. the following day on Monday through Saturday

Additional Permits

These permits can be added on to an R, E, or H license to extend what is permissible. Liquor License holders must apply to the PCLB to obtain these permits.  

    • Sunday Sales (SS) Permit: Allows the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sunday from  11 a.m. Sunday to 2 a.m. Monday. 
    • Wine Expanded Permit: Allows the sale of up to three liters of wine-to-go sales per transaction. This permit is not granted to E licenses. 
    • Extended Hours Food (EHF) Permit: Allows licensed establishments to remain open later than 2:30 a.m. Alcohol sales must still end at 2 a.m.
    • Amusement Permit (AP): Allows live entertainment/ dancing at licensed establishments. 

Have any questions about these liquor licenses or permits? Contact PA Liquor License Company. 

Are you distributing alcohol?

To sell malt and brewed alcohol for off-site consumption you need a distributor license. These are typically for beer distributors. Distributors can be open from Monday at 2 a.m. to midnight on Saturday continuously. 

Distributor (D) Liquor License

If you would like to run a beer distributor that sells to the public, you need a “D” license.

Requirements: 

  • 1000 sq. ft. Minimum 
  • Functioning Bathroom for employees 

Importing Distributor (ID) Liquor License

These licenses are for large wholesale warehouses that sell beer products to other distributors (D license holders) and not to the public. These licenses typically sell at a premium due to limited availability and high sales volume. 

Requirements: 

  • 2,500 sq. ft. Minimum 
  • Functioning Bathroom for employees 

Have any questions about these distributor licenses? Contact PA Liquor License Company. 

Other Liquor Licenses

Other licenses exist for special circumstances, but they are less common. 

  • Limited Winery (LK) License
  • Limited Distillery (AL) License
  • Brewery (G) License
  • Club (C) and Catering Club (CC) Liquor License

At PA Liquor License Company, we know that understanding the ins and outs of buying or selling a PA Liquor License can be complex and overwhelming. We keep up with the rules and regulations for our clients. Not only that, but we have a network of experts to ensure an efficient and seamless transfer. Contact us with your questions. We’d be happy to help!

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