A Liquor Sales Licence may be issued to allow the sale and service of liquor to the public for on-site consumption.
Only owners of a business can apply for a Liquor Sales Licence. The business does not have to be primarily involved with the sale and service of food or liquor, but must be located in a premises open to the public or private members (such as a social club). Liquor sales licences will not be issued to businesses not registered with the government if they are required to be so.
Individuals who have an ownership interest in the business, who is an officer, director or shareholder of an associated corporation, and managers may be subject to a police and financial background check as part of the application process.
Liquor Sales Licences may also be combined with an Endorsement. Endorsements allow licence holders to sell and serve liquor under specific circumstances (see the Endorsements section in this Guide for more information).
In order to begin processing your application, you must submit the following:
- Entity Disclosure*
Entity Disclosure information must be provided by the applicant and by all entities directly or indirectly holding 10% or more of the outstanding shares or of a class of shares of the applicant.
- Signature Form
- ‘Signature of Applicant - Corporation’ required if the applicant is a corporation
- ‘Signature of Partner(s)’ required if the applicant is a partnership/limited partnership
- ‘Signature of Applicant represented by Agent/Representative’ if the application is submitted on behalf of the Applicant.
- Personal Disclosure*
Personal Disclosure information must be provided by all of the following persons:
- Sole Proprietors
- All Officers and/or Directors
- All Partners
- Any shareholder holding 10% or more of the outstanding shares or of a class of shares
- On-site manager, if applicable.
*For complete information, please refer to the Personal and Entity Disclosure Guide
- Floor Plans of the Premises
- Plans must be to scale, and show dimensions (length and width)
- Proposed licensed areas must be CLEARLY OUTLINED
- Floor plan must show layout of the entire premises
- Ancillary areas (washrooms, hallways, stairwells, etc.) must be clearly outlined in a different colour
- See Appendix A - Floor Plans Guide
The following items are not required with the initial application, however, we recommend they be submitted as soon as possible to ensure your licence is issued in a timely fashion.
- Municipal Information Form
- Take this form to your local municipal clerk’s office to be signed and dated by the municipal clerk (or designated official). The municipality may return the form to you, or they may prefer to send the form directly to the AGCO.
- Agency Letters of Approval (“Compliance Letters”)
Three Agency Letters of Approval (“compliance letters”) are required:
- Building Department (Building Code Act, 1992)
- Fire Protection Officer or Fire Marshal (Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997)
- Public Health Department (Health Protection & Promotion Act).
- Calculation of Capacity
- From building department, fire department, or an architect or engineer
- See Appendix A - Floor Plans Guide
- Business Name Registration
The business name under which you intend to operate may have to be registered under the Business Names Act. For information regarding business name registration please call toll free 1-800-361-3223 or visit www.ontario.ca/welcome-serviceontario.
For your convenience, the AGCO provides an Agency Letter of Approval Form for use by the officials. Some agencies may prefer to use their own letterhead. The compliance letters must indicate that your premises meets the current standards or by-laws administered by each agency. These letters must be signed and dated by the appropriate official.
If you are applying to license an outdoor area (patio), the compliance letters submitted from your local fire department, building department and health department must specify that an outdoor area was inspected. If the outdoor area is on municipal property, a Café Boulevard/Encroachment Agreement is required. If the outdoor area is on private property, a letter from the landlord stating the outdoor area is on private property and that permission has been granted for liquor sales licensing is required.
Before a licence can be issued, your premises must undergo a Liquor Sales Licence inspection conducted by an AGCO Inspector. The Inspector will attend your premises to ensure that all proposed licensed areas are eligible for licensing, and that the areas match those listed in your application and shown on your floor plans. Any inconsistencies noted by the Inspector must be corrected. The Inspector will also “walk through” your entire premises to see if there are any other concerns.
During the inspection, the Inspector will also provide resources about the responsible sale, service and delivery of liquor and the major responsibilities of a licensee. The inspection is also an opportunity to address any questions and/or concerns you may have regarding the operation of a licensed premises.
Under risk-based licensing, one or more conditions may be attached to a Liquor Sales Licence by the Registrar to help the licensee minimize risks identified during the assessment process. View a list of these conditions, as approved by the AGCO Board specifically for this purpose.
A licensee may apply to remove and/or add conditions on their licence if there has been a change in circumstances.
Receiving / Posting Your Licence
A licence will only be issued to you if the AGCO is satisfied that all requirements have been met and objections (if any) from the public, the police and/or the municipality have been addressed.
Once you receive your licence, it must be posted at your business in a location where it can be easily seen by your customers, AGCO Inspectors and the police.
Surrendering Your Liquor Sales Licence / Closing Your Business
If you decide to close your licensed business or if you no longer want to sell and serve liquor at your business, you must submit a Voluntary Surrender of Licence application in iAGCO.
All licensed premises are periodically inspected periodically. You are required to provide unobstructed access to your business and you must facilitate inspections. Some violations include:
- permitting intoxication
- selling and serving liquor outside of prescribed hours and/or failing to remove the evidence of service of liquor
- permitting disorderly behavior (also includes permitting drugs and illegal gambling)
- exceeding the lawful capacity of the premises
- selling and serving liquor to individuals under the age of 19.
Committing any of the above or other violations of the Liquor and Control Licence Act, 2019, its regulations and the standards and requirements established by the Registrar can lead to warnings, monetary penalties or a notice of proposal to suspend or revoke your licence from the AGCO.
Notices of Proposal / Hearings
If you are issued a Notice of Proposal to suspend or revoke your licence, you will have 15 days to request a hearing before LAT.
If you choose not to request a hearing before LAT, the Registrar may carry out the order to suspend or revoke your Liquor Sales Licence, without any further consultation with you. A suspension means that you will not be permitted to sell and serve liquor for a specified amount of time. A revocation means that your premises will no longer be licensed to sell and serve liquor.
If you choose to request a hearing before LAT, they will inform you of the hearing date and location. LAT will render a decision that may include directing the Registrar to carry out the proposal to suspend or revokeyour Liquor Sales Licence.
A person who is refused a licence to sell liquor or a renewal of a licence to sell liquor or whose licence is revoked for any grounds other than public interest may not apply to the Registrar for a licence to sell liquor until two years have passed since the refusal or revocation.
Beyond the administrative sanctions imposed by the AGCO or LAT, there may also be instances where you may be held civilly liable for harm caused by someone who was served liquor in your business.
You may wish to contact your legal advisor and your insurance professional to ensure that you have policies and procedures in place to properly address these risks. Staff of the AGCO cannot provide legal advice to you in civil matters.
The number of people permitted in any licensed premises is recorded on the Liquor Sales Licence. You cannot exceed the number of people noted on the licence. Exceeding this number can put the public in danger and is a regulatory violation.
The number of people on the premises must be monitored. Whether you have seating or not, you must monitor the number of people on your premises, as well as the number of people entering and leaving the premises so that you don’t exceed the capacity.
The number of people permitted as stated on the Liquor Sales Licence includes staff in addition to the customers.
Hours of Sale and Service
All orders for liquor must be served before 2 a.m. (3 a.m. on New Year’s Eve). All signs of liquor must be cleared 45 minutes after the end time on the licence. This includes the clearing of all glasses and bottles from the tables.
See the Hours for Liquor Sale, Service and Delivery page for more information. Some licence holders may have conditions on the Liquor Sales Licence that further limit their hours.
Manufacturers – Tied House
A Tied House means the licensed premises of a liquor sales licensee located at the municipal or property address of a production site, where a manufacturer’s products may be showcased on their own or in conjunction with other brands and types of liquor. All of the requirements for a liquor sales licence are applicable to a tied house, except, the licensee is exempt from the requirement of having to sell a variety of brands.
Takeout and Delivery
Liquor sales licensees that meet the requirements set out in regulation can offer the sale of liquor with food for takeout and delivery orders. All types of liquor, including beer, wine, cider and spirits, may be sold for takeout and delivery. The only liquor that licensees may sell is liquor purchased under their liquor sales licence with the exception of beer or wine made at the licensed establishment under a Brew or Wine Pub Endorsement.
Delivery of liquor with food orders must be conducted by the liquor sales licensee, an employee of the liquor sales licensee or under a Liquor Delivery Service licence. Where a third party holding a Liquor Delivery Service licence takes orders and conducts the delivery on behalf of a liquor sales licensee, the two parties must have an arrangement for that purpose. Any individuals involved in the sale, service or delivery of liquor must have completed Smart Serve training.
Advertising Requirements for Licensed Premises
A licensee may advertise or promote the name of the premises, that there is a Liquor Sales Licence, and general brands or types of liquor available.
It is the responsibility of the licensee to ensure that any advertising falls within the regulations and specific standards and guidelines. Please refer to the Registrar’s Interim Standards and Requirements for Liquor for details.
Pricing of Liquor
Liquor pricing is the decision of the licensee, however the price of liquor cannot be less than the minimum price as required by regulation and the price must be the same for all patrons.
The following provide the requirements for liquor pricing:
- A 12 oz beer or a 5 oz glass of wine may not be sold for less than $2, including taxes.
- A 1 oz drink containing spirits may not be sold for less than $1.34, including taxes.
If a licence holder offers for sale a serving of liquor that differs in size from those listed above, the minimum price for that serving shall increase or decrease in direct proportion to the difference in volume of liquor contained in that serving.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Warning Signs
The Liquor Licence and Control Act, 2019 requires certain premises, including those where liquor is sold and served, to display a sign that cautions that consuming liquor during pregnancy is the cause of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. The warning sign must be in English (and may also be in French), at least 8 by 10 inches in size, and prominently displayed in all locations where liquor is sold and served.
For more information, please see the Warning Sign for Consumption of Liquor During Pregnancy page.