Licence to Operate a Ferment on Premises Facility Guide

Last Updated: 
2022-02-09

Ferment on Premises Facility Licence

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is responsible for administering the Liquor Licence and Control Act, 2019 (LLCA), which together with its regulations and the Registrar’s Standards and Requirements for Liquor establish the licensing and regulatory regime for most aspects relating to the sale and service of liquor in Ontario.

Among its responsibilities in the liquor sector, the AGCO licenses and regulates the operation of Ferment on Premises (FOP) facilities in Ontario.

This Guide will assist you in your application for a:

  • new Licence to Operate a Ferment on Premises Facility 
  • transfer of an existing Licence to Operate a Ferment on Premises Facility 

Section 1: General Information

A Licence to Operate a Ferment on Premises Facility allows a licensee to provide a facility where equipment for making wine and/or beer “on the premises” is available for customers to make their own wine and/or beer for personal use.

It is essential that the product be for “personal use”. Ferment on premises (FOP) facilities cannot offer for sale, keep for sale, produce for sale or sell wine and/or beer. In addition, the regulations do not allow the exchange or giving of liquor on the premises.

The LLCA, its regulations and the Registrar’s Interim Standards and Requirements for Liquor (Interim Standards) set out the specific roles and responsibilities that must be exercised by a licensee (and their employees or agents) as part of the overall process, as well as the steps that a customer must take to produce the wine and/or beer.

How to apply for an AGCO Licence, Endorsement or Permit

You can apply for and manage any AGCO licence, endorsement or permit, including those described in this guide, online, through the iAGCO portal.

  • Please refer to the AGCO’s Schedule of Liquor Licensing Fees for the applicable fee for any licence, endorsement or permit.
  • When using online services, payments must be made by Visa, MasterCard, Interac® Online, Visa Debit or MasterCard Debit.
  • Payments of $30,000 or more must be made by money wire transfer or electronic funds transfer. Please note that cheques and cash are not accepted as forms of payment when using iAGCO online services. For more information, please contact AGCO Customer Service at 416-326-8700 or 1-800-522-2876.
  • All fees must be received by the AGCO before an application will be processed.
  • All fees are non-refundable.

Application Types

New Licence

Apply for a new licence if:

  • the premises has never had a licence
  • the Registrar requires a new application to be submitted.

Licence Transfer

  • Transfer licences are issued for the remaining time period on the licence. A transfer of the licence is required if:There is a change in officers or directors of a licensee that is a corporation, or a corporation that effectively controls the activities authorized under the licence.
  • A person becomes or ceases to be a partner of a licensee that is a partnership.
  • 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.
  • 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.

A transfer will not be approved 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.

Temporary Contracting Out

A licensee may contract out the operation of the business to another person who is applying to receive the transfer of the licence if regulatory requirements are met. The licensee remains liable under the licence during the period for which the operation of the business has been contracted out.

The ability to contract out the operation of the business expires, on the issuance of the transfer of the licence; or on the issuance of a notice of proposal to refuse the transfer.

Temporary Transfer

The Registrar may transfer a licence to operate a ferment on premises facility 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

Renewal of a Licence to Operate a Ferment on Premises Facility

It is the responsibility of the holder of a Licence to Operate a Ferment on Premises Facility to ensure that this licence remains valid. If a renewal application and applicable fee is not received by the AGCO on or before the licence’s expiry date, the licence will expire and the operator can no longer lawfully operate the ferment on premises facility.

An expired Licence to Operate a Ferment on Premises Facility cannot be renewed.

A Licence to Operate a Ferment on Premises Facility renewal application will NOT be accepted if the licence holder owes money to the Ministry of Finance (Retail Sales Tax). It is the licensee’s responsibility to contact the Ministry of Finance to determine if money is owed. (Key Liquor Industry Contacts)

You are prohibited under section 2(1) of the LLCA, from operating a ferment on premises facility except under the authority of a licence.

Section 2: Premises Inspection

You will be provided with contact information for your local AGCO Inspector. Once your facility is ready for an inspection, you should contact that individual to set up a date and time. You may contact that individual in advance if you have any questions about the inspection. For general inquiries call 416-326-8700 or 1-800-522-2876 (toll free in Ontario).

Section 3: Moving Your Ferment on Premises Facility

If you are moving to a new location, you must inform the Registrar before removing carboys to the new location. Your new location will be inspected by an AGCO Inspector before an amended licence can be issued. You cannot begin the operation at the new location until you receive the amended licence.

Section 4: Retail Sales Tax

Any Retail Sales Tax owing by the applicant must be resolved with the Ministry of Finance prior to the AGCO issuing a licence

Section 5: Death of a Licensee

In the event of the death of a licensee, in order to ensure the continuation of the business, the Registrar will require:

  • a copy of the death certificate
  • a copy of the will (if there is one) with an affidavit from the executor indicating that the person is the executor and whose appointment as executor was never revoked
  • a Certificate of Appointment (if there is no will) with an affidavit from the spouse/child(ren) (whoever is entitled by law to the proceeds of the estate) that he/she is the spouse/child(ren) of the deceased who died on the stated date and the deceased died without a will
  • personal disclosure information for the executor or administrator of the licensee’s estate.

This step allows the executor or administrator to continue to operate the business while the will is in probate. The Registrar must be informed within 15 days of the will being probated. A transfer to a different person application must then be submitted by the beneficiary.

It will take several weeks for your application to be processed.

Section 6: Required Information

The following items must be submitted for your application to be processed:

  • Fee
    • Please refer to the AGCO’s Fee Schedule for the applicable fee.
    • When using online services, payments must be made by Visa, MasterCard, Interac Online, Visa Debit or MasterCard Debit.
    • Payments of $30,000 or more must be made by money wire transfer or electronic funds transfer. Please note that cheques and cash are not accepted as forms of payment when using iAGCO online services. For more information please contact AGCO Customer Service at 416-326-8700 or 1-800-522-2876.
    • All application fees must be received by the AGCO before an application will be processed.
    • All fees are non-refundable.
  • Corporate Structure*
    Corporate structure information must be provided by the applicant corporation and by all corporations directly or indirectly holding 10% or more of the outstanding shares, or a class of shares 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 outstanding shares, or a class of shares
    • on-site manager, if applicable.
  • 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.

* For complete information, please refer to the Personal and Entity Disclosure Requirements Guide.

In addition, the following is required:

For a New Licence:

  • 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 the website at www.serviceontario.ca.

For a transfer where the principal individuals remain the same:

  • letter to confirm the date on which the ownership change took place
  • 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 the website at www.serviceontario.ca.

Section 7: Advertising

Holders of a Licence to Operate a Ferment on Premises Facility have a responsibility to ensure that advertising carrying its business or brand name, or endorsed by it, falls within the parameters of the regulations enacted pursuant to the LLCA as well as in the Interim Standards.

Section 8: Responsibilities of the Licensee

Before the end of a customer’s first visit to the ferment on premises facility, the licensee must transfer ownership of the ingredients being purchased by the customer. Before someone can begin to make beer or wine at the facility, the licensee must prepare and provide an invoice to that person. An invoice, requiring specific information, must be provided whether the person making the beer or wine is a customer, the licensee or one of the licensee’s employees.

The licensee or the licensee’s employees or agents:

  1. may add finings or stabilizing agents to the customer’s other ingredients;
  2. may operate equipment to filter and add carbonation to the customer’s ingredients; and
  3. may rack the customer’s beer or wine.

The licensee must make sure that the licensed premises are clearly defined and are kept separate from other premises that are used for different purposes.

If the licensee or an employee of the licensee suspects that someone is under 19 years of age, they should ask that person for government issued photo ID.

Every ferment on premises facility must display a “Sandy’s Law” warning women who are pregnant that drinking alcohol during pregnancy is the cause of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. The sign must be prominently displayed in all locations where persons make beer or wine. For more information and to download a copy of the “Sandy’s Law” sign, please see Signage Requirement – “Sandy’s Law”.

A customer may be given a sample of his/ her own beer or wine after fermentation, carbonation or filtration has occurred, as long as the sample is no larger than 170 millilitres and is consumed on the licensed premises.

The licensee or an employee can carry the customer’s beer or wine out of the licensed premises to a waiting vehicle. Neither the licensee nor their staff may deliver a customer’s beer or wine.

Licensees cannot store for a customer any beer or wine that has been placed in containers.

Licensees must ensure that each carboy has a tag attached to it bearing the number of the invoice provided to the person whose ingredients have been placed in the carboy and, where applicable, the date on which enzymes or yeast were added to beer wort, wine juice, wine juice concentrate or other juice or juice concentrate in the carboy.

Section 9: Responsibilities of the Customer

The customer must start the fermentation process at the facility and carry out certain steps to produce the beer or wine, including the following:

  1. the customer must add the yeast or enzymes needed to begin the fermentation process to the beer wort, wine juice, wine juice concentrate or other raw material of beer or wine; and
  2. the customer must place his or her beer or wine in containers;
  3. the customer must label, cork, cap, shrink wrap or package his or her beer or wine;
  4. the customer must remove his or her beer or wine from the licensed premises immediately after it has been placed in containers.

A customer may designate a person, other than the licensee or the licensee’s employee or agent, to complete these steps at the premises on the customer’s behalf.

Section 10: Helpful Resources

Details about your responsibilities as a licence holder under the LLCA and its regulations are available online at www.ontario.ca/laws or by contacting Publications Ontario.

For more information, please consult this page with Key Liquor Industry Contacts

It is the licence holder’s responsibility to ensure they and their employees and contractors are informed of the laws, regulations, standards and requirements established by the Registrar, and any conditions affecting their licence.