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Licensees’ Records on the Licensed Premises

This article was originally published in The Pennsylvania Observer / Pennsylvania Beverage Media in August 2022. A pdf version can be found here.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Code at 47 P.S.§ 4-493 requires licensees, (which includes restaurants, hotels, and clubs), importing distributors, distributors, and retail dispenser licensees to maintain on their licensed premises complete and truthful financial records covering the operation of the licensed business for a minimum period of two years.

The most important business records that licensees must keep are the state liquor store invoices and invoices for purchases of malt or brewed beverages. Additional examples of business records are banquet records, income and expenses records, coil cleaning records, bank statements and canceled checks, payroll records, and lists of employees.

The business records must be kept on the licensed premises for a period of the most recent six months. You, however, must still keep the records that are between six months and two years old, but these records can be stored at a location other than the licensed premises. These older records must be able to be returned to your licensed premises within 24 hours should the State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement demand to see them.

The business records for the most recent six months may be removed from the licensed premises only for “lawful business purposes” and then must promptly be returned to the licensed premises. An example of a lawful business purpose is having provided your accountant with the records for tax purposes. However, even then the records have to be promptly returned to the licensed premises if demanded by the state.

Apart from the financial/business records, licensees have additional record requirements depending upon the type of license that they hold. For example, club liquor licensees have numerous records to maintain on the licensed premises such as minute books, membership records, a certified copy of the charter, copy of the club’s constitution, and by-laws in addition to the financial records. And hotels need a hotel guest register book. Restaurant licensees need a health permit.

These records and permits, including the PLCB valid physical license, must be maintained on the licensed premises at all times.

The State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement has the legal right to request that a licensee produce the business records and other relevant records for inspection. The state police, in fact, will randomly visit licensees’ premises and perform a spot check to determine if the licensee is in compliance with the liquor code and the PLCB regulations.

A licensee’s failure to produce or have the records will result in a citation being issued against the PLCB license by the state police both for the failure to keep complete and truthful records, and also for the failure to have the records, licenses, or permits on the licensed premises as required by law.

Licensees should consult with their attorney as to the specific records that each type of license is required to maintain.

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