Like many professional industries, pharmaceutical work requires a unique set of licenses.
Whether you are a manager of a pharmacy practice, an employee within a pharmacy, or a recent graduate
starting your career, you will face certification and licensing requirements at every level of your
Adhering to professional licensing requirements is key
to maintaining your legal authority to practice pharmacy. Beyond that, full compliance demonstrates
that you have the medical skills and judgement to ensure the health and safety of those who rely
on your services as a pharmacist. Failing to observe pharmaceutical industry requirements can
result in state imposed penalties and even denial, revocation, or suspension of your license.
The good news? An experienced, dedicated compliance partner can help you take a proactive approach to
maintaining pharmacy licensure and certification. Contact Harbor Compliance
today to help you simplify the professional licensing process.
The following guide contains an overview of pharmaceutical licensing and specific board requirements
in each state.
Pharmacy License Classifications
Pharmacy licenses generally fall into 3 categories: Pharmacy facility, Wholesaler/Distributor, and Other.
Pharmacy state licensing boards vary in how they label license types, so it is important to
review the information from the specific state board of pharmacy that you are applying through. The
following is a breakdown of licenses that typically appear in these three categories.
- In-State Pharmacy
Mail Order Pharmacy
Limited Prescription Pharmacy
- Wholesale Drug Distributor
Manufacturer of Prescription Drugs
Medical Gas Distributor
- Research and Teaching Institution
Home Medical Equipment Service Provider
Non-Pharmacy Drug Outlet
Overview of Requirements
A business entity offering pharmaceutical services to the public must register with the State Board of
Pharmacy and receive the relevant pharmacy license. A pharmacy license is necessary to practice in
all states and companies practicing without one can be liable for steep penalty fees and even criminal
Licensure for pharmacies usually follows incorporation
or foreign qualification of the business entity with the
secretary of state. Common legal structures for companies are corporations or professional
corporations (PC), and limited liability companies
(LLC) or professional LLCs. Incorporation refers to formation of the business entity, whereas foreign
qualification refers to applying for a Certificate of Authority to transact business in another state.
After registration with the
secretary of state, companies
must apply for a license through the relevant licensing board.
Pharmacy industry licenses are generally divided by the types of pharmaceutical services that a pharmacy
might provide. For example, New Mexico has 14 different companies licenses ranging from Animal Control and
Hospital pharmacy licenses to Wholesale Drug Distributor and Narcotic Treatment Program Facility
licenses. Applications and forms vary by state and states don’t always classify pharmacies in the same
way. Despite the variation across state licensing boards, there are some requirements that are nearly
Applications almost always require the companies to incorporate or foreign qualify before applying for a
pharmacy license. Other common application requirements include: Controlled Substance registration,
facility information, and self-inspection forms.
State boards also require companies to have at least one licensed pharmacist employed before applying for a
license. This individual is known as the pharmacist in charge. The pharmacist in charge must
usually submit proof of licensure and needs to be individually licensed in any additional states that
the pharmacy expands to. One notable exception to this rule is Arizona, where out of state pharmacies do not
need to have an Arizona licensed pharmacist on staff.
There can also be federal registration requirements for pharmacies. Pharmacies that issue controlled
substances should register with the DEA following state level licensure.
Pharmacies Operating in Multiple States
Entities that provide pharmaceutical service to more than one state are required to register
in all states that they serve. Out-of-state applications typically have more requirements
than in-state applications, and pharmacies must meet these requirements prior to providing
service in another state. Proof of
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registration,
resident state pharmacy licenses, and inspection reports are common requirements on out-of-state
Many states require nonresident pharmacies, including mail order, internet, and out-of-state pharmacies,
to report to the state prescription monitoring program (PMP).
Mail Order Pharmacies
Pharmacies that have a brick-and-mortar location in at least one state but ship pharmaceuticals
to other states are considered mail-order pharmacies. They require specific licenses in most states.
Pharmacies that do not have any brick-and-mortar stores but operate entirely online are
considered internet pharmacies. In some states, requirements for internet pharmacies overlap
with mail order pharmacies. All internet pharmacy applications require a
Verified Internet Pharmacy Practices Site program, among many other requirements.
Because pharmacy license requirements are particularly complex, especially for pharmacies
operating in multiple states or shipping across states lines, it is best to talk to a
compliance specialist to determine which requirements apply to your business.
Initial Registration Fees
Fees for initial licensure range from $75 to $900. Wisconsin’s pharmacy license is only $75, while the
District of Columbia’s pharmacy license amounts to $900. The average license fee is around $300.
Pharmacy license renewal varies by state. About half of all states call for licenses to be renewed every two
years with the remaining states renewing annually.
Like initial application fees, renewal fees also vary by state. Fees range from just $100 for some West
Virginia licenses to $900 in the District of Columbia. Companies can expect to pay closer to the national
average of $265 when applying for a license, however, the most commonly applied fee is $200.
Table of Company Licenses
Looking for pharmaceutical certification requirements in a particular jurisdiction? The following table
summarizes pharmacy licensing requirements across the United States.
Click on any state for the licensing information specific to that state.The following table summarizes company
licensing requirements across the United States. Click on any state for the licensing information specific to