Keeping a Liquor License Safe: When to Put a License Into Safekeeping

When a licensed establishment is closed for renovation or is damaged by natural disaster or when the business has to close for economic reasons, there are actions the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (“LCB”) requires of the licensee.  Any licensed establishment closed for fifteen days or more (regardless of the reason) must submit the license and the wholesale purchase permit cards to the LCB to be held in “safekeeping” while the business is closed.  This can be done by mailing the license along with purchase cards and a letter explaining the reason for the closure to the LCB in Harrisburg.  That letter should identify a contact person to whom notifications can be mailed while the business is closed.  If the license is destroyed or the purchase cards lost, the licensee can submit an affidavit explaining what happened to the missing documents.  The license remains in safekeeping in Harrisburg until such time as the premises is ready to reopen with a valid county-issued health department license, or until the license is transferred.  When the license is ready to be removed from safekeeping an application is made to the LCB which requires payment of a fee.

It should be noted that a license may only be placed into safekeeping for three years, at which point it will be revoked if further action is not taken. An additional year can be requested by a licensee for a fee to the LCB of $2,500 or $5,000 depending on which county the license is located in. An additional year can also be requested for no fee if the premises are unable to reopen due to damage from a flood, fire or natural disaster. Application for the additional year of safekeeping must be made before the initial three year period has expired, otherwise the license will be automatically revoked. 

It should also be mentioned that while a license is in safekeeping it must be validated or renewed with the LCB during the normal renewal periods for the county in which the license is issued and tax returns must filed with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.  The license cannot be removed from safekeeping until all renewal fees and taxes have been paid and the Department of Revenue grants clearance.

It is strongly recommended that an attorney be consulted if a licensed establishment is closed for an extended period to determine if the license should be placed into safekeeping.  Contact our firm with all your liquor license questions.

– J. Ken Butera


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