Last Updated: 
2021-11-29

Things to know before applying

Prior to submitting an application for a Brewery Licence to the AGCO, applicants should contact the LCBO to obtain relevant information about product testing. Please refer to the Key Liquor Industry Contacts page.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for a Brewery Licence, applicants must be:

  • 19 years of age or older

  • financially responsible

  • conduct the business in accordance with the law and with integrity and honesty (please note that this may include, among other activities, police records checks on the applicant and some or all interested persons) 

Applicants are generally not permitted any direct or indirect financial ownership in a business holding a Liquor Sales Licence (e.g. licensed restaurants and bars). Please refer to section 20 of Regulation 746/21 under the Liquor Licence and Control Act (LLCA) for further information.

Distribution and Warehousing

Breweries that hold a Brewery Licence may distribute their own beer, or the wine or spirits of another manufacturer to persons who have purchased it from the LCBO or another person authorized to sell liquor. To “distribute”, means to transport liquor, other than transporting it to customers for consumption, and includes the warehousing of liquor during its transportation.

In limited circumstances, as set out in Regulation 746/21 under the Liquor Licence and Control Act, breweries may enter into an agreement or arrangement with another person to distribute their beer. Breweries may also, subject to the limitations set out in Regulation 746/21 under the Liquor Licence and Control Act, distribute the beer of another manufacturer.

Generally, the distribution of beer is limited to specific parties and arrangements, and the distribution of wine and spirits are restricted when included in the same shipment as beer.

In the case of distribution by a third-party service provider, the service provider does not need to hold a licence from the AGCO, and the manufacturer remains responsible for compliance with the Act, regulations, and standards and requirements established by the Registrar. The only third party service providers that are permitted to distribute beer are those previously authorized by the LCBO immediately before November 29, 2021 .

A party that is distributing liquor that it did not produce may provide transportation and warehousing services, but cannot buy or sell that liquor.

Breweries are permitted to use facilities in Ontario and that are located away from their production site as additional storage for their product and/or to support distribution of their product. Manufacturers cannot promote, take orders for or sell liquor from an off-site warehouse, or use an off-site warehouse to service deliveries to end use consumers.

Breweries must maintain records of the location of any offsite storage facilities where their liquor is stored, and provide that information to the AGCO on request.

Supporting documents

What supporting documents/information are needed to apply?

When applying for your Brewery Licence (Manufacturer’s Licence – Brewery) online via the iAGCO portal, you will be asked to provide the following as part of your application. These items can be provided to the AGCO at any time during the application process:

  • Summary of your Business Plan, which sets out:

    • a full description of the products to be manufactured on site

    • floor plans showing the complete layout of the manufacturing facility, including equipment and proposed location of any retail store to be located at the production site (if applicable)

    • the channel(s) through which you plan to sell your product(s) (e.g. LCBO, under a Brewery Retail Store Endorsement, export)

    • If your product(s) will be manufactured at a facility other than your own, please provide details

  • Copy of Federal Excise Licence (Brewery)
    The Excise Act and the Excise Act, 2001 (administered by the Canada Revenue Agency) requires that a person obtain a licence under these federal statutes prior to producing or packaging wine, beer and/or spirits in Canada.

  • Written proof of LCBO Product Testing
    Please contact the LCBO for further information, including laboratory testing fees. Contact information can be found in the Key Liquor Industry Contacts page.

  • Copy of Business Name Registration
    The business name under which you intend to operate may have to be registered under the Business Names Act.

  • Entity Disclosure (if applicable)
    All questions must be answered.

  • Personal Disclosure, to be completed by all of the following individuals:

    • owner (if the applicant is a sole proprietor)

    • officers and directors including: signing officer, president, secretary, treasurer

    • all persons holding 10% or more of the outstanding shares, or of a class of shares

    • all partners

Compliance— maintaining your licence

Once a Brewery Licence has been issued, the licensee is responsible for operating their business responsibly and in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, and the standards and requirements established by the Registrar. Among other requirements, licensees will be subject to the following:

  • The Liquor Licence and Control Act (LLCA), its regulations, and the standards and requirements established by the Registrar.

  • Regular renewal of the licence:  Licensees may select a two- or four-year term duration, with fees payable to match the length of the term. As a courtesy, licensees will be sent a renewal notice approximately 60 days prior to the expiry date shown on the licence. However, it remains the licensee’s responsibility to ensure the licence is renewed on time.

  • Periodic inspections by AGCO Inspectors: All premises used by the licensee in relation to the licence may be inspected by AGCO Inspectors for compliance with the Liquor Licence and Control Act, its regulations, and the standards and requirements established by the Registrar. You must allow AGCO Inspectors unobstructed access to your business and you must facilitate their inspections.

  • Audit: Audits include inspection and implementation of production controls and compliance with the Liquor Licence and Control Act. The AGCO may also request different types of business records for audit purposes.

  • Beer taxes: Beer manufacturers will collect the beer taxes and remit them to the Ministry of Finance on a monthly basis. For additional information, please contact the Ministry of Finance. Contact information can be found in Key Liquor Industry Contacts page.

  • Any conditions attached to the licence.

  • Mandatory Staff/Server Training: As required by the standards and requirements established by the Registrar persons involved in the sale, service, delivery or sampling of liquor, or who are involved in taking orders for liquor from customers must successfully completed a server training course approved by the Board of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (the “Board”) and hold a valid certificate. The Board has approved the Smart Serve® Training Program. Please visit www.smartserve.ca for more information. 

Changes requiring the transfer of a licence

All Brewery Licences are issued to individuals, business partnerships or corporations, for operation at a specific location. The licensee is responsible for the ongoing operation of the licence.

A transfer of the licence is required if there is a prescribed change of ownership of a business carried on under a licence or if the licensee changes, or if a different person wishes to acquire the licence.

Prescribed Changes in ownership requiring a transfer:

  1. An individual becomes or ceases to be an officer or director of,

    1. a licensee that is a corporation, or

    2. a corporation that effectively controls the activities authorized under the licence.

  2. A person becomes or ceases to be a partner of a licensee that is a partnership.

  3. A person or partnership acquires a beneficial interest in the licensed business, including acquiring shares of a licensee that is a corporation or of a corporation that effectively controls the business, that results in the person or partnership holding or controlling 10 per cent or more of the outstanding shares, or of a class of shares, of the corporation.

  4. A person or partnership other than the licensee becomes entitled to any of the profits from the sale of liquor or liable for any obligations incurred from the activities authorized under the licence.

In cases where an individual ceases to be an officer or director of a corporate licensee or a partner ceases to be a partner in a partnership that is a licensee, if the licensee gives the Registrar notice of the change within 30 days after the change occurs, the licensee may continue to engage in activities authorized under the licence without requiring a licence transfer.

Transfer to a Different Person

A manufacturer’s licence is eligible to be transferred to a different person, provided the regulatory requirements are met.

The Registrar may also transfer manufacturer’s licence for a period of not more than one year, when:

  • A trustee in bankruptcy or court-appointed receiver acquires the business of the licensee

  • A mortgagee, franchisor, landlord, or executor or administrator of the estate of a deceased licensee takes possession of the licensed premises.

The Registrar may develop a simplified application process for the transfer of a manufacturer’s licence in the following circumstances if the principal individuals involved in the licensed business remain the same after the change occurs:

  1. The licence transfers between a sole proprietorship and a corporation.

  2. The licence transfers between a partnership and a corporation.

  3. The licence transfers from a partnership to a sole proprietorship.

  4. The licence transfers from one corporation to another corporation.

  5. Two or more corporations amalgamate into a single corporation and a licence from one of those corporations transfers to the amalgamated corporation.

A transfer will not be approved, in most instances, if the current licensee has an outstanding monetary penalty or if the recipient of the transfer would not be eligible to be issued a licence.

The business trade (operating) name may have to be registered under the Business Names Act. Also note that corporations must file updated information with respect to officers and directors of a corporation with the Companies and Personal Property Security Branch on a regular basis. Please see the Ontario.ca Central Forms Repository. Forms must be forwarded to the Companies and Personal Property Security Branch for processing.

How to transfer a Licence?

Applications to transfer your licence can be completed online via the iAGCO portal.

Please note:

  • The entity to whom the licence is being transferred TO is responsible for submitting the application to transfer the licence.

  • The application must include a signed Consent to Transfer, signed by the current licence holder(s). This form can be found via the iAGCO portal.

Supporting Documents

What supporting documents/information are needed to transfer a licence?

When applying to transfer a Manufacturer’s Licence – Brewery, you must provide the same documents and information as when applying for a new licence.

In addition, the following must be provided:

  • Confirmation of Sale: Transfer applicants must submit written confirmation signed by the vendor, a lawyer or an accountant, that the sale of the business or shares has been completed.

Other Notes for Transfer Applicants

Should the transfer application be approved, a licence shall be issued to the new owners with the expiry date of the original licence.

Transfer applicants must check the expiry date of the existing licence to ensure that the licence will not expire during the time it takes to process the transfer application.

Renewing a Brewery Licence

Brewery Licences are valid for a period of two or four years. As a courtesy, licensees will be sent a renewal notice approximately 60 days prior to the expiry date shown on the licence. However, it remains the licensee’s responsibility to ensure the licence is renewed on time.

You can apply to renew your Brewery Licence online, through the iAGCO portal.

Your renewal application will not be accepted if there has been a change of ownership that has not been previously reported to the AGCO. If there has been a change of ownership, you must complete an application to transfer your licence and submit it to the AGCO (please see Changes Requiring Transfer of a Licence).

Your renewal application must be received by the AGCO on or before the expiry date on your Brewery Licence.

If your renewal application is not received by the expiry date on your licence, your licence will expire and you can no longer sell or serve alcohol.

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