Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board?
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, PLCB, was created by state law on November 29, 1933, at the end of Prohibition. Pennsylvania is one of 18 states (soon to be 17 states when the State of Washington completes a change in its regulatory system) and two Maryland counties that actively participate in the distribution process to control the sale of alcohol. The PLCB is governed by a three-member Board, appointed by the governor and confirmed by two-thirds of the state Senate. Currently, the Board includes: Joseph E. Brion, Chairman; Robert S. Marcus, member, and Tim Holden, member.
- How much money does the PLCB generate? And where does that money go?
PA Wine & Spirits stores generated approximately $2.2 billion in sales in 2012-2013. The PLCB returned more than $512 million to the Pennsylvania Treasury, including $311.24 million in liquor taxes, $121.09 million in sales tax and $80 million transfer to the General Fund.
Approximately 70 percent of the PLCB’s revenue is spent on the purchase of wine and spirits and the transportation and warehousing costs associated with distribution of the product.
Distribution of proceeds is broken out as follows:
- 56% – Purchase of Wine and Spirits (including Federal Taxes Paid) – $1,192,047,304
- 14% – Store, Warehouse, and Transportation Costs – $302,635,814
- 4% – Administrative, Alcohol Education, Licensing & Legal – $84,223,254
- 1% – Billings from other Commonwealth Agencies* – $16,306,384
- 1% – Contributions to Other Agencies* – $30,988,179
- 6% – State and Local Sales Tax – $129,235,592
- 14% – Emergency State Liquor Tax – $311,247,792
- 4% – Transfer to the General Fund – $80,000,000
* The PLCB’s proceeds fund 100 percent of the costs of Liquor Code enforcement and also contribute to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s drug and alcohol programs.
- How many stores are there?
We currently have approximately 601 brick and mortar stores and one e-commerce site, Fine Wine and Good Spirits to serve Pennsylvania consumers.
- How does the PLCB choose what products are sold in stores?
The PLCB will accept new product requests twice a year. In order to submit a product proposal, you must first have a Pennsylvania Vendor Permit. If you do not have a permit, in order to apply you must first have a license from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, known as TTB. To contact them, visit their website.
After obtaining the TTB license, you may obtain the Pennsylvania Vendor Permit application forms either through the PLCB’s Bureau of Licensing, which may be contacted at (717) 783-8250, or through this website by clicking the link “For Licensees”, and then “Applications and Forms”. The “Application Packet for Vendor’s or Sales Permit” will provide complete instructions and all of the forms needed to apply.
Once you have your permit to be a vendor representative, a listing proposal for each item must include the following elements:
A non-refundable listing proposal fee of $150.00 per item, per size, in the form of a check made payable to the PLCB. This fee covers all administrative costs in reviewing the feasibility of the product, and getting the product ordered and into store distribution. Payment of the listing fees does not guarantee the listing of the product.
You must submit two presentation packets. Each packet must include the following: a properly completed New Item Request Form, a properly completed Standard Quotation and Specification Form, two copies of the front and back label of the product and any other information the vendor deems appropriate. Both the New Item Request Form and the Standard Quotation and Specification Form can be downloaded from this website. Click on “For Industry Partners” and “Supplier Information.”
Special notice should be taken of the Standard Contract Terms and Conditions for Purchase Orders, which must be read and agreed to before the Standard Quotation and Specification Form can be accessed. Imported items can be quoted F.O.B., a U.S. shipping point, destination freight paid or on an In-Bond basis.
The presentation packets and check must all be mailed together to the Office of Product Selection, Room 218, Northwest Office Building, Harrisburg, PA 17124. The PLCB reserves the right to return incomplete packets. Late submissions will not be accepted.
If a listing presentation is deemed necessary, it must be presented to the product manager responsible for that product category. All personal presentations must be completed by the end of the listing month stated on the listing calendar (Example: All Sept. listing presentations must be completed by Sept. 30th). Samples of the product being submitted must accompany the presentation or must be submitted with the required listing material. Please submit samples according to the following guide:
Samples needed for a new listing:
Wines – 2
Spirits – 1
Samples needed for a line extension listing:
Wines / Spirits – 1
The product managers will make their recommendation to accept or reject an item based on several key factors, including price segment growth, category growth, projected annual profit per store and marketing support being provided by the vendor/supplier.
The director of product selection will submit recommendations to the Board for official decision.
Vendors who have submitted items for consideration will be notified in writing of the results of the Board’s decision with respect to their individual items.
If you have additional questions, call the PLCB’s Bureau of Marketing and Merchandising at (717) 787-7963.
- What are your store hours?
Days of operation and store hours vary by location. To locate a store near you, visit our website.
- How does the PLCB choose store locations?
Our stores vary in size substantially depending on the type of store and location. Our standard stores range from 4,500-6,000 square feet while our rebranded stores, which are larger and offer more selection, are 7,000-12,000 square feet.
When determining a new location, we consider pedestrian and vehicle traffic counts, neighboring tenants (grocery anchored shopping centers are preferred), ability to accommodate rear tractor-trailer deliveries and customer parking availability.
If you have a prospective location, you can contact the PLCB’s real estate office at (717) 783-1113.
- How do I get a license to sell alcohol?
Depending on the type of license, there are a couple of ways to obtain a liquor license.
The Restaurant Liquor License is the most common type of license, which authorizes a licensee to sell liquor (including wine) and malt or brewed beverages, such as beer, to customers for them to drink on the premises. Currently the Liquor Code limits the number of licenses for the retail sale of liquor and malt or brewed beverages to one license for each 3,000 residents in any county, exclusive of such licenses granted to public venues, performing arts facilities, continuing care retirement communities, airport restaurants, municipal golf courses, hotels, privately-owned public golf courses, racetracks, automobile racetracks, non-primary pari-mutual wagering locations, and national veterans’ organizations. An applicant may apply for a new license through the PLCB’s Bureau of Licensing. A new license may be available as a result of an opening in the quota system, due to a legislative exception to the quota, or because there is no quota for the particular license.
In the event a county has exceeded its quota, as most of them have, the prospective licensee must buy an existing license from someone who already holds one and apply, through the Bureau of Licensing, to have it transferred to a new owner, a new location or both. In limited circumstances, the PLCB is authorized to issue a restaurant liquor license for the purpose of economic development without regard to the quota restrictions. The person or entity applying for such a license must establish that it has exhausted reasonable means for obtaining a suitable license within the county. The proposed licensed premises must be located either in a Keystone Opportunity Zone, in an area designated as an enterprise zone by the Department of Community and Economic Development, or in a municipality which has approved the issuance of an additional license for the purpose of economic development. Such licenses, once granted, may not be transferred to a new owner or to a new location.
Transfer applications are available by calling the Licensing Information Center at (717) 783-8250, or through this website by selecting the page “For Licensees,” and, from that page, select “Applications and Forms”. The “Application Packet for Transfer of License and Permit (Retail)” will provide complete instructions and all of the forms needed to apply.
Hotel licenses are not subject to the quota, but an applicant must provide a minimum number of sleeping rooms, which varies in proportion to the size of the municipality in which the hotel will be located.
There is also a quota restriction on the number of beer distributor and/or importing distributor licenses that may be issued in any county. The Liquor Code prevents the PLCB from granting any new distributor or importing distributor licenses in any county where the combined number of distributor and importing distributor licenses exceeds one license per 30,000 inhabitants of the county in which the license is to be issued, provided that a combined total of five such licenses may be granted in any county.
Certain organizations, usually charitable, known as “eligible entities,” may obtain special occasion permits from the PLCB, which temporarily authorize them to sell alcoholic beverages on certain days. Only one special occasion permit may be issued to an eligible entity per year, but it may be used for up to six days. Except for volunteer fire companies, rescue companies and ambulance squads that own their premises, the permits are not available for premises already holding a license. The purpose of the permit is to provide the eligible entity with a means of raising funds for itself.
- Who do I call if I have questions about a current license?
You can call the PLCB’s Bureau of Licensing at (717) 787-5549. Additionally, the “PA Licensing Search System,” found on this website, is available 24/7.
- Who enforces the Liquor Code?
The PLCB does not enforce the Liquor Code.
The Liquor Code and the PLCB’s regulations are enforced by the Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement, BLCE, within the Pennsylvania State Police. The Office of Administrative Law Judge, an autonomous office within the PLCB, is responsible for presiding over enforcement hearings.
- How do I get a job at the PLCB?
As a civil service agency, most of our positions are filled by merit selection procedures in accordance with the Civil Service Act and Rules. In order to be considered for vacancies in our agency, you must participate in the civil service testing process. A summary of civil service examinations lists all exam programs currently open for testing. This summary is updated monthly, and is available on the State Civil Service Commission (SCSC) website. You may apply directly online at www.scsc.state.pa.us.
Most of the agency’s senior level positions are non-civil service. To be considered for these positions, you must complete the personal data sheet, found on-line at the Pennsylvania Employment website..