PLCB Changes to 2020 and 2021 Liquor License Renewals

September 14, 2020
Aaron K. Zeamer

If you have not already received it, you likely will in the coming weeks receive an automated email from the PLCB regarding the renewal of your liquor license.  I wanted to circulate some information to avoid any confusion about the current requirements regarding your liquor license renewals.

In order to provide licensees with some relief during the pandemic, the PLCB has deferred the requirement to renew your liquor license and pay the accompanying fees in 2020 until December 1st.  For many licensees, this assistance came too late because by the time the PLCB implemented this deferral, they already paid their renewal fee for 2020.

  • If you have already paid your renewal fee for 2020, there is nothing else you need to do for this year.
  • If you did not pay your renewal fee for 2020, the PLCB has allowed licensees to continue to operate even if they have not yet completed the renewal process and paid the fees.  This deferral is set to expire on December 1, 2020.

So if you still need to renew your license for this year, please make plans to do so by November 30.  To be clear, the PLCB has only deferred the time to pay the fee. They have NOT waived it altogether…. more on that below.

Deadline for Restaurant and Hotel Licensees

Your filing deadline depends on which district you are in.  Late fees are imposed beginning 60 days BEFORE your license expires.  Do not confuse your license expiration date with the deadline to renew.  If you do so, the PLCB will charge you a $100 late fee.

Deadline for Manufacturer Licensees (Breweries, Wineries, and Distilleries)

Your filing deadline is also 60 days BEFORE your license expires, but PLCB districts for these licenses are different than the districts for retail licenses. (Why the PLCB needs to have different districts for different types of licenses, I do not understand).  Please make sure to check which district you are in and then refer to the PLCB’s email blast to see when your filing deadline will be.

Again, do not confuse your license expiration date with the deadline to renew, or you will be charged a $100 late fee.

Currently, because of the deferral I explained above, if your renewal for next year is upcoming, you may choose to wait until November 30, 2020 to file your renewal without the imposition of a late fee.  As things currently stand, after November 30, the PLCB will again implement the late fee and begin requiring renewals in order to continue operating.

PA House Bill No. 2783 May Waive the 2021 Renewal Fee

As of right now, license renewals are still going to be processed as usual for 2021.  However, there is legislation pending that could waive the renewal fee for 2021.  This was introduced to provide licensees with some additional relief during the pandemic, but also because the legislature recognized that many licensees never got the benefit of the deferral because they already renewed their license by the time the deferral was implemented.

The Bill currently introduced in the House would provide relief from payment for one year if a licensee lost more than 25% of revenue because of the pandemic.  Please keep an eye out for any notices from the PLCB or news regarding license renewals.

To the extent the above bill is not passed this fall, please remember that you need to complete your license renewal on time, and what is “on time” depends on what type of license you have and which PLCB district you are located in.


The PLCB doesn’t explain any of the above very well and many licensees pay the late fee.  You give the state enough money each year, save yourself the late fee and submit your renewal before the renewal deadline! If you missed the changes regarding other restaurant news during COVID-19, find out more about outdoor dining and selling mixed drinks to go here.

Aaron Zeamer is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He practices in a variety of areas, including Business Law and Liquor License matters. Aaron works frequently with commercial real estate agents, brokers, restaurant and bar owners, breweries, distilleries, and wineries to facilitate the sale and transfer of PA liquor licenses.