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To Ship or Not to Ship…

October 31, 2017

by Kimberly Selemba

Pennsylvania liquor licensees often have various questions regarding their ability to ship alcoholic beverages, both within Pennsylvania itself and beyond the Commonwealth’s borders.  The ability and means by which to ship alcoholic beverages depends on the particular class of license the licensee has.

A manufacturer’s license, such as a brewery, a limited winery, or a limited distillery, permits the holder, in the regular operation of its licensed business, to ship its own manufactured products, within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or beyond, in vehicles owned or leased by the licensee itself.  When transporting alcoholic beverages during the course of their business, manufacturing licensees must display on each side of the vehicle used in the operation of the business their name, address, and the license number, preceded by the letters “P.L.C.B.,” in letters no smaller than 4 inches in height.  Additionally, manufacturing licensees can transport their product using a licensed transporter-for-hire.

There are three classes of transporter-for-hire licenses:  Transporter-for-Hire License, Class A, authorizing the holder to engage in the commercial transportation of liquor, malt or brewed beverages, or alcohol to or from points located in the Commonwealth; Transporter-for-Hire License, Class B, authorizing the holder to engage in the commercial transportation of malt or brewed beverages only, to or from points located in the Commonwealth; and Transporter-for-Hire License, Class C, a fleet license authorizing the holder to engage in the commercial transportation of liquor parcels within the Commonwealth.

The passage of Act 39 in 2016 now allows for a direct wine shipper license (“DWS license”), which may be obtained by any person licensed by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, another state, or another country as a wine producer.  The purpose of this license is to allow shipment of wine (up to thirty-six cases of wine in any calendar year) to Pennsylvania residents for such resident’s personal consumption. Pennsylvania limited wineries are now specifically included in the definition of a direct wine shipper, and thus must obtain a DWS license to ship its manufactured wine to a Pennsylvania resident’s home for personal consumption.

In contrast to the rights granted to a manufacturing licensee, a retail license, such as a restaurant license or an eating place license, does not authorize the holder to deliver alcohol.  Thus, in order for a retail licensee to deliver alcohol to consumers for off-premises consumption, it must also become licensed as a transporter-for-hire, or must separately retain an already-licensed transporter-for-hire to ship its product.

Licensees whose licenses inherently let them ship their product using their own vehicles should note that, even though nothing in the Pennsylvania Liquor Code or in the PLCB’s Regulations prohibit them from shipping alcoholic beverages to entities located outside of the Commonwealth, delivery of the alcoholic beverages to other states would still be subject to the laws and regulations of the destination state.  As such, licensees wishing to ship their product to other states should consult the destination states’ liquor regulatory agencies to determine the particular state’s requirements.

© 2017 McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC
McNees Food & Beverage Client Alert is presented with the understanding that the publisher does not render specific legal, accounting or other professional service to the reader. Due to the rapidly changing nature of the law, information contained in this publication may become outdated. Anyone using this material must always research original sources of authority and update this information to ensure accuracy and applicability to specific legal matters. In no event will the authors, the reviewers or the publisher be liable for any damage, whether direct, indirect or consequential, claimed to result from the use of this material.