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Permits, violations & licenses

Apply to provide bouncer training

Bouncer training providers offer courses and certification for people who want to work as bouncers in Philadelphia. All providers must meet specific requirements and be approved by the Managing Director’s Office. 

Upon acceptance, the provider will be added to a list of approved trainers. 


There is no cost to apply to provide bouncer training courses. 

Personnel requirements

Training provider

The person or organization offering the bouncer training courses must:

  • Have a valid Commercial Activity License, if required under Chapter 19-2600 of the Philadelphia Code (Business Income and Receipts Taxes).
  • File all required tax returns and be up-to-date on their City taxes. If they’re delinquent on their taxes, penalties, or interest, they must enter a payment agreement with the City.


To qualify, instructors must have at least three years of experience as a bouncer or in a similar field. This may include security services or other work that involves maintaining order and safety.

Instructors must also meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • They are registered as a bouncer in Philadelphia and current on their refresher courses.
  • They are licensed pursuant to the Private Detective Act of 1953 (PDF). In this case, they must register as a bouncer within one year of becoming an instructor.
  • They are an employee of a person or group that is licensed pursuant to the Private Detective Act of 1953. In this case, they must register as a bouncer within one year of becoming an instructor.
  • They are otherwise sufficiently licensed or qualified, as determined by the MDO.

Within the past three years, instructors must not:

  • Have any work-related history of improperly engaging in violence.
  • Have been convicted of a violent offense.

Training course requirements

The full criteria for becoming an authorized bouncer training program is set forth in the training provider regulations. A bouncer training course must:

  • Be taught by qualified instructors.
  • Be at least 16 hours in length.
  • Cover specific topics, including:
    • The role of a bouncer.
    • A bouncer’s powers, obligations, and limitations under the law.
    • Access control and emergency egress.
    • Alcohol management.
    • First aid.
    • Crowd control.
    • Age verification, checking identification (including electronic verification methods), and detecting fake identification documents.
    • Identifying and handling people engaged in aggressive or disruptive behavior, as well as people engaged in underage drinking.
    • Nonviolent defense tactics. (No training in weapons, hand-to-hand combat, or other violent measures may be provided.)
    • Verbal communication and conflict resolution.

Certified bouncers must attend an eight-hour refresher course every two years. A refresher course must:

  • Be taught by qualified instructors.
  • Cover the same topics described above. However, the course may focus on newly-developed technology, techniques, and best practices.

How to apply


Your application must include:

  • Your business’s name, address, and phone number.
  • A contact person’s name, phone number, and email address.
  • A detailed description of the curriculum and teaching methods used, including any refresher courses offered.

You must also identify your instructors, describe their experience, and provide copies of their bouncer registrations or relevant licenses.

Submit your application to the MDO.

You can mail your application to the following address:

City of Philadelphia
Office of the Managing Director
1401 John F. Kennedy Blvd., Suite 1430
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Receive approval from the MDO.

Submitting your annual performance report

To remain certified, you must provide a performance report to the MDO by July 1 of each year. This report should:

  • Describe the curriculum of your bouncer training course.
  • Identify each instructor and their qualifications, hours of instruction, completion rate.
  • Describe any new technology or techniques employed.

The MDO may revoke the certification of any bouncer training provider that is not in compliance with the requirements or with Chapter 9-3700 of the Philadelphia Code.