Liquor Sales Licence (Including Tied House) and Mini Bar Licence Guide

Last Updated: 
2022-02-09

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 standards and requirements established by the Registrar establish the licensing and regulatory regime for most aspects relating to the sale, service and delivery of liquor in Ontario.

Among its responsibilities in the liquor sector, the AGCO licenses and regulates premises that sell or serve liquor to the public for on-site consumption. This includes premises such as bars, restaurants, lounges and night clubs, although there are no restrictions in the LLCA on the type of business that can apply for a Liquor Sales Licence. Certain types of liquor sales licensees are restricted from offering the takeout or delivery of liquor with food.

There are two classes of Licences to Operate a Liquor Consumption Premises:

  • Liquor Sales Licence.
  • Mini Bar Licence.

This Guide contains detailed information to assist you in applying for a Liquor Sales Licence, including a Tied House, and a Mini Bar Licence.

Important Information

Responsibilities of a Liquor Sales Licence Holder

For further details about your legal responsibilities as a licence holder, refer to the Liquor Licence and Control Act, 2019, its regulations and the standards and requirements established by the Registrar.

Zoning

Prior to applying for a Liquor Sales Licence, please confirm with your local municipality to ensure that your premises is properly zoned for this purpose.

Public Notice

Most new Liquor Sales Licence applications will require public notice. For example, if you apply to license a premises that has never held a Liquor Sales Licence before, your application will require public notice. Public notice of a Liquor Sales Licence application has two parts:

  1. A placard (poster) will be e-mailed to you for you to print. The placard must be posted for the number of days specified at the premises in a location where members of the public can easily read it from the outside of the premises. The placard will specify whether the application is for indoor and/or outdoor licensed areas.
  2. The AGCO will post a public notice in iAGCO, the AGCO’s online services portal. Anyone can review these notices during the posting period by using the search tool in iAGCO.

The application process cannot be completed until both elements of public notice have been given. If the AGCO receives any public objections to the application, these objections must be resolved before the application can proceed any further. You will receive a copy of any objections, including the names of the people who have objected. The AGCO encourages residents and applicants to work out a satisfactory solution for all concerned.

If you are unable to resolve your neighbourhood concerns on your own, the AGCO may schedule a public meeting with you, depending on the nature of the objection(s), and a Deputy Registrar of the AGCO to see if you and the objector(s) are able to come to an agreement to resolve the issues. If the issues cannot be resolved, a public hearing will be scheduled before a member of the Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT). LAT is an independent tribunal, part of Tribunals Ontario, and is not part of the AGCO.

If you are not sure whether your application requires public notice, please call AGCO Customer Service at 416-326-8700 or 1-800-522-2876.

Responsible Liquor Sale, Service and Delivery Training

The Registrar’s Interim Standards and Requirements for Liquor (Interim Standards) require that licensees ensure that the following persons hold a valid certificate demonstrating successful completion of a training course approved by the Board of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO):

  • Every person involved in the sale, service, sampling or delivery of liquor or in taking orders for the sale of liquor;
  • Security staff whom the licensee employs or, in the case of a stadium, uses; and
  • Employees involved in the sale and service of liquor from motorized vending carts, as well as course marshals, for Golf Course Endorsement holders.

Licensees are encouraged to keep a copy of their employees’ certification. AGCO Inspectors may ask a licensee for proof of a staff member’s certification at any time.

For more information, please see the AGCO’s Responsible Liquor Sale, Service and Delivery Training page.

Fees and Payment

  • 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 fees must be received by the AGCO before an application will be processed.
  • All fees are non-refundable.

​Premises Type

During the application process applicants will be required to identify the type of premises they will be operating. Please see Appendix C for a listing of premises types and descriptions.

Warning

Do not misrepresent or omit any material fact(s). Each statement made in your application is subject to verification. It is a serious offence to knowingly provide false information on the forms and on any attachments.

The provision of false, incomplete, or misleading information or the omission of information on the forms or in the documents submitted with your application, or the failure to notify the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario of any material changes to this information which occur after this application is filed, may also result in the refusal, suspension or revocation of your Liquor Sales Licence.

If you require assistance with your application, please contact AGCO Customer Service at 416-326-8700 or 1-800-522-2876.

Section 1: Liquor Sales Licences

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).

Required Information

In order to begin processing your application, you must submit the following:

  • Fee
  • 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

Additional Documents

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
  • 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.

Pre-Licensing Inspection

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.

Conditions

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.

Inspections

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:

  1. permitting intoxication
  2. selling and serving liquor outside of prescribed hours and/or failing to remove the evidence of service of liquor
  3. permitting disorderly behavior (also includes permitting drugs and illegal gambling)
  4. exceeding the lawful capacity of the premises
  5. 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.

Liability

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.

Monitoring Capacity

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:

  1. A 12 oz beer or a 5 oz glass of wine may not be sold for less than $2, including taxes.
  2. 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.

Section 2: Mini Bar Licence

A Mini Bar Licence is a class of licence under the category of Licence to Operate a Liquor Consumption Premises. If liquor will only be sold/served from a mini bar in guest rooms, and not within other areas of your premises (e.g. pub, restaurant) then it is only necessary to apply for a Mini Bar Licence.

Access to the contents of the mini bar must be controlled by the licensee or be restricted by means of a locking device. Access to the contents of the mini bar must be restricted to those persons that are nineteen years of age or older.

Licensees shall retain records of the mini bar sales for one year.

All of the same “Required Documents” as for a Liquor Sales Licence Application (see Section 1: Liquor Sales Licences) must be submitted, however, the Floor Plan, Calculation of Capacity, Municipal Information Form and Agency Letters of Approval (“Compliance Letters”) are not required.

If a licensee has a Liquor Sales Licence for the premises and wants to sell/serve in guest rooms from a mini bar, a Mini Bar Endorsement is required in addition to the Liquor Sales Licence. To apply, please see below, Section 3: Liquor Sales Licence Endorsements “Mini Bar Endorsement”.

Section 3: Liquor Sales Licence Endorsements

Endorsements are add-ons to a Liquor Sales Licence that allow a licensee to sell and serve liquor in certain situations apart from those generally permitted by the licence. A licensee may apply for and hold more than one type of endorsement.

There is no fee for endorsements, with the exception of a Golf Course Endorsement. Endorsements expire at the same time as the licensee’s Liquor Sales Licence.

Caterer’s Endorsement

The holder of a Caterer’s Endorsement may sell and serve liquor at an event held on premises other than the premises to which the liquor sales licence applies. A Special Occasion Permit is not required. The catered event must be sponsored by someone other than the licence holder and not be more than ten (10) days in duration. Liquor cannot be offered for sale at a series of events sponsored by the same person if as a result of doing so, the licence holder is or appears to be operating an ongoing business with the sponsor. Liquor may not be sold at events held in a residence. Liquor not sold during a catered event must be returned to the licence holder’s stock. The licence holder is not permitted to promote or invite persons to attend a catered event where the licence holder is offering liquor for sale. The licence holder is responsible for ensuring compliance with the Liquor Licence and Control Act, 2019, its regulations and the standards and requirements established by the Registrar. This includes complying with all health, fire and building regulations.

Areas under the exclusive control of the licence holder

If the licence holder has given the AGCO prior notice of its intention to cater events held in areas under the exclusive control of the licence holder (i.e. areas listed on the endorsement application), then notification of individual events is not required.

NOTE: AN AREA MAY BE UNDER THE EXCLUSIVE CONTROL OF THE LICENCE HOLDER IF THE LICENCE HOLDER OWNS, RENTS OR LEASES THE AREA.

Areas not under the exclusive control of the licence holder

At least ten (10) days before a catered event begins, the licence holder with a Caterer’s Endorsement must provide the AGCO, the local police, fire, health and building departments with details concerning:

  • The nature of the event and the name of the sponsor
  • The address where the event will be held
  • The dates and hours during which the event will be held
  • The estimated attendance for the event
  • The boundaries of the area where liquor will be sold and served.

Holders of a Brew Pub Endorsement may sell beer they have manufactured at events which are operated under a Caterer’s Endorsement (also see conditions for Brew Pub Endorsements).

Requirements

  1. In addition to advising the AGCO at least ten (10) days prior to the event, the licence holder must also notify the local police, fire, building and health departments at least ten (10) days prior to the event.
  2. The event must be sponsored by a person other than the licence holder.
  3. Post a Sandy’s Law warning sign at the event.
  4. Liquor must be offered for sale and served at the event under the supervision of the licensee or an employee. Anyone involved in the sale and service of liquor must be certified in accordance with the standard on server training. For more information, please refer to the Server Training information provided in this Guide.
  5. Do not cater an event exceeding ten (10) consecutive days in length, operate an ongoing business with a sponsor or promote an event.
  6. Do not sell and serve liquor at an event held in a residence.
  7. The licensee shall ensure that the location of the catered event complies with the requirements for licensed premises.
  8. Failure to comply with the Liquor Licence and Control Act, 2019, its regulations and the standards and requirements established by the Registrar can result in disciplinary action, including a suspension or revocation of the Liquor Sales Licence.

Room Service Endorsement

The holder of a Room Service Endorsement may sell and serve liquor at a room that is rented as overnight accommodation that is adjacent to the licensed premises.

Brew Pub Endorsement

The holder of a Brew Pub Endorsement may sell and serve beer that is manufactured on the premises by the licensee. The licensee must own and operate both the pub and the manufacturing facilities. The beer must be sold and consumed only in the licensed area, if served for on premises consumption.

Beer manufactured by the holder of a Brew Pub Endorsement shall only be sold, served and consumed in the licensed premises where the draught beer was manufactured and on one premises other than the premises where the beer is manufactured if:

  1. The licence holder has at least a 51% interest in the business carried on at the other premises and a valid Liquor Sales Licence, or
  2. A liquor sales licence applies to the other premises.

Beer manufactured by the licensee may be sold and consumed in accordance with any caterer’s endorsement attached to the licence containing the brew pub endorsement.

The holder of a Brew Pub Endorsement may offer their beer for takeout and delivery if they meet the requirements set out in regulation. It is the endorsement holder’s responsibility to comply with all federal requirements. For more information, contact your nearest Regional Federal Excise Office.

Wine Pub Endorsement

The holder of a Wine Pub Endorsement may sell and serve wine that is manufactured on the premises by the licensee. The licensee must own and operate both the pub and the manufacturing facilities. The wine must be sold and consumed only in the licensed area, if served for on premise consumption.

Wine produced under a Wine Pub Endorsement may only be sold, served or consumed on the premises to which the licence applies. The holder of a Wine Pub Endorsement may offer their wine for takeout and delivery if they meet the eligibility requirements set out in regulation.

Wine Pub Endorsement Testing Contacts

For more information on the testing process, the contact info for LCBO Quality Assurance Laboratory is available on the Key Liquor Industry Contacts page.

Alternatively, you can search for other analytical and testing laboratories that meet the requirements. 

Mini Bar Endorsement

The holder of a Mini Bar Endorsement may sell and serve liquor from a dispenser (mini bar) in a room that is rented as overnight accommodation that is adjacent to the licensed premises. The mini bar must be located in the guest room and must be secured with a key, magnetic card or other device that is separate from the room key.

In addition to liquor, the mini bar must also be stocked with non-alcoholic beverages.

Access to the contents of the mini bar must be controlled by the licensee or be restricted by means of a locking device. Access to the contents of the mini bar must be restricted to those persons that are 19 years of age or older.

Licensees shall retain records of the mini bar sales for one year.

Golf Course Endorsement

The holder of a Golf Course Endorsement may sell and serve liquor to persons on a golf course to consume on the playing area of the golf course. Liquor may be served from mobile vending carts. Non-alcoholic beverages must also be made available.

Any patron who obtained liquor at any licensed area of a golf course is exempted from subsection 42(1) of the Liquor Licence and Control Act, 2019 while driving or having the care or control of a golf cart on the playing area of a golf course.

Please refer to the AGCO’s Fee Schedule for the applicable fee.

Bring-Your-Own-Wine (BYOW) Endorsement

A Bring-Your-Own-Wine (BYOW) Endorsement authorizes the holder of a Liquor Sales Licence to permit patrons to bring sealed, unopened bottles of commercially-made wine to a restaurant or banquet room for their own consumption.

The licensee or an employee must open the wine, as would be the case if the patron had purchased the wine from the premises.

“Commercially-made wine” means wine made by a manufacturer but does not include wine made at a Ferment on Premise facility, wine made at a premises with a wine pub endorsement, fortified wine as defined in regulation or homemade wine.

The applicant must hold a valid Liquor Sales Licence to apply for a BYOW Endorsement. All rules, regulations and the standards and requirements established by the Registrar regarding the selling and serving of liquor apply. The licensee may not use this endorsement in combination with a caterer’s endorsement that may be attached to the licence.

If the premises ceases to be a “restaurant” or a “banquet room” it ceases to be eligible for a BYOW endorsement, and must inform the Registrar within ten (10) days of the change. Failure to do so could result in administrative action being taken.

Section 4: Modifications to Existing Licences

Changes to Existing Licensed Areas

An application is required for the following types of changes:

  1. Increasing capacity of an existing area.
  2. Adding a new licensed area (Indoor or Outdoor). Note that under the Registrar’s temporary patio extension policy eligible licensees may add or temporarily extend their licensed premises without application provided they meet certain criteria. See Section 5 for more details.
  3. Changing the boundaries from the original layout of an existing licensed area, that may or may not increase the capacity.
  4. Adding walls that separate current licensed areas.
  5. Converting an outdoor area to an indoor area and vice versa.

NOTE: IF THE CHANGE YOU ARE PROPOSING DOES NOT APPEAR IN THE LIST ABOVE, PLEASE CONTACT THE AGCO FOR MORE INFORMATION ON WHAT IS REQUIRED.

An application is not required for the following types of changes:

  1. Changes to decor.
  2. Installing or relocating doors.
  3. Installing windows.

You may not sell or serve liquor in the additional areas unless your licence is amended to include the proposed changes.

Note: If you wish to remove a licensed area(s) from the licence you must inform the AGCO within thirty (30) days of the change. You must clearly describe the areas that you wish to remove.

Required Information

As with a Liquor Sales Licence application, you will be required to provide:

Note: If you are applying for an outdoor area (patio), the approval letters submitted from your local fire department and health department must specify that an outdoor area was inspected.

Public Notice

The AGCO will determine, based on the Liquor Licence and Control Act, 2019, whether changes to existing licensed areas or additions that are not currently licensed require public notice. The AGCO will inform you whether your application requires public notice. See the Public Notice section earlier in this Guide for more information.

Tiered Seating

Permanently licensed tiered seating for sale, service and consumption of liquor

If you would like to have a permanently licensed tiered seating area in your premises, where the tiered seating is either fixed (e.g. attached) or temporary (e.g. bleachers that are moveable/expandable), you will need to apply to have the tiered seating area permanently licensed.

Notification requirement

Unless there is a specific condition, you will not be required to notify the AGCO when using your tiered seating once the area has been licensed.

Changes to the Premises Name

Licensees may only operate under the name that appears on their Liquor Sales Licence.

The AGCO must be notified if there is a legal name change to an Individual, Entity, or Business/Operating Name. The AGCO must be notified if there is a legal name change to an Individual, Entity, or Business/Operating Name via the iAGCO portal.

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.

For information and forms, please see the Ontario.ca Central Forms Repository. Forms must be forwarded to the Companies and Personal Property Security Branch for processing.

Section 5: Temporary Extension of a Liquor Sales Licence

Important Update: To support businesses as they work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and if permitted to open for on-site consumption, liquor sales licensees, including premises that are docked boats, may temporarily extend or add a temporary physical extension of their licensed premises until 3:00 a.m. on January 1, 2023. For more information about the requirements under the AGCO’s 2021-22 patio policy, please see Annex B of the Information Bulletin: Liquor Licence & Control Act, 2019 Framework Now in Effect.

If eligible for the temporary extension noted above, the licensee is not required to submit an application to the AGCO or follow the process outlined below.

If you do not meet the 2021-2022 criteria and still wish to apply for a temporary extension, please see below for more information on how to apply.

Licensees holding a valid Liquor Sales Licence may submit an application to the AGCO to temporarily extend their existing licensed premises to an adjacent area (for instance to support a special event or occasion). The Registrar will consider temporary physical extensions and approve the duration of the temporary extension on a case-by-case basis. The application, including all supporting documentation, must be received thirty (30) days in advance of the temporary extension/event. No licensing fee is required.

The Registrar may approve a temporary physical extension of the premises, if the extension is adjacent to the premises to which the licence applies or in the case of a boat, a dock to which the boat is attached, and may include land adjacent to the dock.

Prior to making an application for a temporary extension, it is important to take note of the following:

  • A complete application including the necessary supporting documents must be submitted a minimum of thirty (30) days in advance of the event, otherwise your application may not be processed in time for the event.
  • Should any additional information be required, you will be notified.
  • Police, Fire Department, Public Health Office and Building Officials must be notified a minimum of thirty (30) days prior to the event.
  • Any conditions that apply to your Liquor Sales Licence will also apply to the extended area.
  • It is the licence holder’s responsibility to ensure compliance with all other laws, by-laws and regulations during an event for which a temporary extension has been approved.
  • If a tent will be used as the proposed extended licensed area, and the tent has walls that can be rolled down and secured, those secured walls may be considered as the partition from the areas to which the licence does not apply. Please identify on the sketch if this is the case. Tents without walls must ensure that the tent area is distinguishable from adjacent premises to which the licence does not apply.
  • In the case of premises that are boats, licensees must ensure that access to the water surrounding the dock or the specified portion of the land to which the dock is secured or affixed is prevented by a physical barrier.
  • Licensees are responsible for ensuring that all requirements of the Liquor Licence and Control Act, 2019, its regulations and the standards and requirements established by the Registrar are met. Licensees should take into consideration the nature of the event and the calculated capacity noted on the Temporary Extension Application.

Required Documentation

The following will be required for your application:

  • Notification Letters
    A letter of notification advising local Police, Fire Department, Public Health Office and Building Officials of the date, time, exact location, capacity of the proposed extended licensed area including any permanent or temporary tiered seating, and nature of the event must be sent a minimum of thirty (30) days prior to the event. Copies of these letters must be included with your application.
  • Sketch or Plan
    A well-drawn sketch or plan must clearly show:
    • The exact dimensions of the proposed extended licensed area including any permanent or temporary tiered seating;
    • The exact location of the area in relation to the licensed premises - must be adjacent to the existing licensed premises;
    • The proposed extended area must be readily distinguishable from other areas to which the proposed temporary extension does not apply. Licensees can determine how to best accomplish this, by for example, using planters, furniture, a rope between posts, or lines painted on the ground etc.

See Appendix B – Calculating the Dimensions of a Proposed Extended Licensed Area.

  • Letter of Approval
    If the proposed extended area is rented or leased, the applicant must provide a letter of approval from the owner or landlord.
  • Letter of Non-Objection from the Municipal Clerk
    If the event is outdoors, the applicant must obtain a letter from the Municipal Clerk stating that there is “no objection” to the proposed extended licensed area. Letters from the municipality that state the event is “municipally significant” will not be considered acceptable.
    Please obtain this letter well in advance of the event to ensure the Municipal Council will be able to consider your request.

Section 6: Temporary Extension of Hours

The Registrar is authorized to extend the hours of sale of liquor at a licensed premise for an event which is of municipal, provincial, national or international significance.

  • Generally, hours will not be extended for televised events
  • Applications for extended hours must be submitted at least thirty (30) days prior to event date
  • Applications for extended hours may be refused, if in the opinion of the Registrar:
    • The event is not considered a significant event
    • The extension of hours is not in the public interest, or
    • An extension of hours is not necessary to promote the success of the event.

The following must accompany the application:

Liquor Sales Licence Holders

  • Municipal Designation
    ​A Municipal Designation must be submitted if the event is of municipal significance, and it must include the following information:
    • Name and address of the premises for which extended hours are requested;
    • Description of events that are occurring in the premises (i.e. how is the premises linked to the overall event?)
    • Reasons why the event is municipally significant
    • Explanation of how the extension of hours for the sale and service of liquor at the premises will promote the success of the event.
  • Municipality Notification (for events of provincial, national and international significance)
    All applications submitted to the AGCO for a temporary extension of hours for events of provincial, national and international significance must be accompanied by a copy of the written notification the applicant has sent to the local municipality.
  • Police Notification
    A copy of the written notification sent by the event organizer to the local police must be submitted. The notification must advise the police of the following:
    • That the licensee is applying to the AGCO for an extension of hours (for the sale and service of liquor);
    • Names and addresses of all premises that are listed on the application;
    • Names and date(s) of the event;
    • Date(s) and time(s) of extension requested.

Event Organizers

  • Municipal Designation
    A Municipal Designation must be submitted if the event is of municipal significance, and it must include the following information:
    • Name and address of all premises for which extended hours are requested
    • Description of events that are occurring in each premises (i.e. how is each premises linked to the overall event?)
    • Reasons why the event is municipally significant
    • Explanation of how the extension of hours for the sale and service of liquor at the premises will promote the success of the event.
  • Municipality Notification (for events of provincial, national and international significance)
    All applications submitted to the AGCO for a temporary extension of hours for events of provincial, national and international significance must be accompanied by a copy of the written notification the applicant has sent to the local municipality.
  • Police Notification
    A copy of the written notification sent by the event organizer to the local police must be submitted. The notification must advise the police of the following:
    • That the event organizer is applying to the AGCO for an extension of hours (for the sale and service of liquor)
    • Names and addresses of all premises that are listed on the application
    • Names and date(s) of the event.
  • Letters of Confirmation
    A “Letter of Confirmation” must be submitted from each premises listed on the application for extended hours. The Letter of Confirmation must be signed by the premises’ Liquor Sales Licence holder and confirm that the premises is requesting extended hours (for the sale and service of liquor)

Note: The event organizer must ensure that all Letters of Confirmation are submitted with the application. If an application for extension of hours is submitted without a Letter of Confirmation from each premises, the application will not be processed.

Section 7: Transferring a Liquor Sales Licence

All Liquor Sales 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 licence to operate a liquor consumption premsies is eligible to be transferred to a different person, provided the regulatory requirements are met.

The Registrar may also transfer a licence to operate a liquor consumption premises 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 licence to operate a liquor consumption premises 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.

Authorization to Contract 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; on the issuance of a notice of proposal to refuse the transfer; or upon expiry of the licence.

The Authorization to Contract Out must be submitted to the AGCO with the transfer application, and appropriate liquor licensing fee.

Note that a Personal Disclosure for the person who will be responsible for managing the premises must be submitted and processed by the AGCO, before the Authorization to Contract Out becomes effective and the transfer applicant is permitted to sell and serve liquor on the premises.

Make sure to check the expiry date of the licence, and have the licensee renew it (if necessary) to ensure it does not expire during the transfer period.

Transfer Checklist

The following is required, in most instances, to transfer a Liquor Sales Licence:

  • Fee
  • Entity Disclosure*
    Entity Disclosure information must be provided by the applicant corporation and by all corporations directly or indirectly holding 10% or more of 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.

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

  • Supporting Documents, e.g. possession information (how and when possession of the licensed premises was obtained).
  • Authorization to Contract Out (if applicable)
    The applicant must apply for an Authorization to Contract Out (together with the Liquor Sales Licence Transfer Application and transfer fee) if the applicant intends to operate during the transfer process. The applicant may not operate until they have received the “Authorization To Contract Out” from the Registrar. The licence holder and applicant are both responsible for compliance with all requirements of the licence during the authorization to contract out period.
      
    An Authorization to Contract Out expires when the licence is transferred, expires or when a notice of proposal to refuse the transfer is issued. Both the licence holder and the transfer applicant must sign both the Transfer Application and the Application for Authorization to Contract Out.

The following is required to complete a transfer application, but may be submitted later in the application process:

  • Letter of Confirmation or Minutes / Shareholders’ Resolution. The AGCO requires confirmation that the transfer of ownership has been completed. You will need to submit one of the following:
    • If the change of ownership involved the transfer of shares within a corporation, you will need to submit a copy of the Minutes/Shareholders’ Resolution;
    • If the change of ownership did not involve the transfer of shares within a corporation, you will need to submit a letter after closing confirming the date the transaction was completed. The AGCO accepts the closing letter only from the current licence holder, a lawyer or an accountant.

Note regarding Retail Sales Tax Act and the Liquor Tax Act: If either the current liquor licence holder or the transfer applicant owes money (under the RSTA or LTA) to the Ministry of Finance, the Liquor Sales Licence Transfer Application cannot proceed until this debt has been resolved. Retail Sales Tax Act and Liquor Tax Act clearance is not required for Trustees in Bankruptcy or Court Appointed Receivers applying for a temporary Liquor Sales Licence. 

Section 8: Liquor Sales Licence Renewals

As a courtesy, licensees will receive a renewal reminder sixty (60) days prior to the expiration date of their licence.

You must apply to renew your licence and submit the appropriate fee prior to the expiry date.

If your application and fee(s) are received on or before the expiry date, you will receive a Renewal Confirmation Notice allowing you to operate until you receive your licence.

If your renewal application is not received by the expiry date on your liquor licence, your licence will expire and you can no longer sell or serve liquor. Expired liquor licences cannot be renewed. Keep in mind that you are prohibited under the Liquor Licence and Control Act, 2019 from selling/ serving liquor without a valid liquor licence.

Please note that your Liquor Sales Licence renewal will not be processed if your premise owes money to the Ministry of Finance (Retail Sales Tax). It is your responsibility to contact the Ministry of Finance to determine if you owe any money. For contact info, see the Key Liquor Industry Contacts page

Your Liquor Sales Licence renewal application will also not be processed if there has been a change of ownership at the premises that has not been previously reported to the AGCO. If such a change has occurred, you must apply for a Liquor Sales Licence Transfer.

Section 9: Closing a Business

You must surrender the licence back to the Registrar when you stop operating your business, unless you are transferring the Liquor Sales Licence.

To do this, please submit, through iAGCOVoluntary Surrender of Licence/Authorization. If you do not surrender your licence, a revocation of licence will be noted on your record.

Liquor sales licensed establishments that are closed or are closing temporarily or permanently may transfer open or closed liquor from one licensed establishment to another, where the licence holder of both licensed establishments is the same, or the licence holders of the licensed establishment are affiliates. To do this, one of the licensees must submit an online notification of the liquor transfer through iAGCO at least 30 days before any transfer of liquor.

If a closure is temporary, you should notify the AGCO:

  • If a business is closing for more than 30 days for renovation
  • If the business is seasonal, when the business will be closed during the year.

Section 10: 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.

Fees and Payment

  • 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.

Appendix A – Floor Plan Guide

Floor plans must be submitted with new Liquor Sales Licence applications and alteration applications. Proposed licensed areas shown on your floor plans must match the areas listed on your application form.

Sample floor plan:

Establishment sample floor plan for Liquor Licence Application Process                                                 

Floor plan requirements:

  1. Must be to scale, and show dimensions (length and width).
  2. Proposed licensed areas must be clearly outlined.
  3. Floor plan must show layout of the entire premises.
  4. If you wish to license ancillary areas (i.e. Washrooms, Hallways, Stairwells, etc.) with no increase in overall occupancy, the areas must be clearly outlined in a different color.  

Capacity Calculations: 

  1. separate capacity is required for each proposed licensed area, except ancillary areas.
  2. There are three methods of assigning a capacity to your premises, either:
    1. capacity is assigned by the building department; or
    2. capacity is assigned by the fire department; or
    3. capacity is calculated by an architect or professional engineer.
  3. If neither the building nor fire department will assign a capacity to the proposed licensed areas, you must submit floor plans that show capacity calculations completed by an architect or professional engineer in accordance with the Liquor Licence and Control Act, 2019 and its regulations. These floor plans must be stamped and signed by the architect or professional engineer.
  4. Licensed areas must be readily distinguishable from areas to which the licence does not apply.

Sample Application Form Chart:

Floor Level

Exact Location and Description

Indoors or Outdoors

Tiered Seating Yes/No

Estimated capacity

Basement

Southwest Section – Dining Area

Indoors

Yes    No

58

Main Floor

South Section – Patio

Outdoors

Yes    No

33

Main Floor

South Section – Seating Lounge

Indoors

Yes    No

80

Sample Floor Plan — Text Version

First Section:

  • In this example, the kitchen area is sandwiched in the middle with a storage space on the left and two washrooms on the right.
  • The storage space is outlined or marked with a border and shows entrance-exit door. The space is labelled “Storage”.
  • The kitchen area is outlined or marked with a border and the width and height dimensions (example, 5.1m width by 3.9m height) are shown using directional arrows. Entrance-exit door is outlined. This area is labelled “4-Kitchen”.
  • Washroom 1 and Washroom 2, shows entrance-exit doors. Each washroom is outlined or marked with a border and labelled “Washroom”.
  • A final defining border marks the entire area for this first section and encompasses the storage space, kitchen and washrooms.

Second Section:

  • The standing bar area shows the width and height dimensions (example, 8.9m width by 3.1m height) using directional arrows. The area is marked as “1-Standing Bar”.
  • The standing bar itself is defined by a shape and the dimensions of each segment is shown in square feet.
  • A red border outlines the entire area for this second section.

Third Section:

  • The seating lounge area is clearly outlined or marked with a red border and shows entrance-exit doors. The height and width dimensions (example, 5.4m height by 6.9m width) are shown using directional arrows. The area is marked as “2-Seating Lounge”.
  • In this example, the hallway is located to the right of the seating lounge and is outlined or marked with a border and labelled “hallway”. The entrance-exit doors on one end are outlined. A door on the other end leading to a vestibule is outlined. The vestibule is marked with a border and labelled “vestibule”. A door leading to the patio is outlined.
  • A final defining border marks the entire area for this third section and encompasses the seating lounge, hallway and vestibule.

Fourth Section:

  • The patio area is clearly outlined or marked with a red border and shows the entrance door connecting to the vestibule. The width and height dimensions (example, 8.9m width by 2.4m height) are shown using directional arrows. The area is marked as “3-Patio”.

Finally, a defining outside border encompasses all four sections: Kitchen, Standing Bar, Seating Lounge and Patio.

Appendix B – Calculating the Dimensions of a Proposed Extended Licensed Area

The following is an example of sketch showing the proposed extended area in relation to the existing licensed area(s)

Formula for Maximum Capacity of Extension: Length x Width (metres) divided by 1.11 (metres)

Sketch showing the proposed extended area in relation to the existing licensed area(s)

Appendix C – Premises Types

Premises Type

The following are the applicable premise types to select, depending on the corresponding licence being applied for:

Tied House

  • Bar / Sports Bar
  • Restaurant*
  • Restaurant (Franchise)*
  • Restaurant / Bar*
  • Restaurant / Club*
  • Specialty Merchandise Store
  • Other

Mini Bar Licence

  • Hotel/Motel

Liquor Sales Licence

  • Adult Entertainment
  • Arcade-style Facility
  • Art Gallery
  • Athletic Club
  • Auditorium
  • Automotive / Marina
  • Banquet Hall
  • Bar / Sports Bar
  • Big Box Retail Store
  • Billiard / Pool Hall
  • Bingo Hall
  • Boat
  • Bookstore
  • Bowling Alley
  • Community Centre
  • Educational Facility- Over 19 years of age*
  • Educational Facility- Under 19 years of age*
  • Funeral Home
  • Gaming Facility*
  • General Store*
  • Golf Course
  • Grocery Store
  • Hair Salon / Barber Shop
  • Historical Site / Landmark
  • Hotel/Motel
  • Internet Café
  • Karaoke Bar / Restaurant
  • Laundromat
  • Live Theatre
  • Medical Facility
  • Military
  • Motion Picture Theatre
  • Museum
  • Night Club*
  • Place of Worship
  • Railway Car*
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurant (Franchise)*
  • Restaurant / Bar*
  • Restaurant / Club*
  • Retirement Residence
  • Social Club*
  • Spa
  • Specialty Food Store
  • Specialty Merchandise Store
  • Stadium*
  • Theatre*
  • Train*
  • Other

*see “Description of Selected Premises Types”

DESCRIPTION OF SELECTED PREMISES TYPES

Education Facility - Over 19 Years of Age

A school or place of learning where the majority of students are over the age of 19, such as a university or college.

Education Facility - Under 19 Years of Age

A school or place of learning where the majority of students are under the age of 19, such as an elementary school or high school.

Gaming Facility

A place which is kept for the purpose of playing games of chance and which is named on the registration of the registered supplier of the gaming premises.

General Store

A store that sells a variety of merchandise, such as groceries and household supplies.

Night Club

A licensed premises where dance facilities are provided for patrons. Patron seating is limited and food service is generally an ancillary activity.

Railway Car

The stock of a Railway Company that is permanently affixed to the ground and is not used for the transport of passengers.

Restaurant

A premises where all the areas within the premises are given over to tables and chairs. The main focus is food service.

Restaurant (Franchise)

As Restaurant above, but operated under a franchise agreement.

Restaurant/Bar (Restobar)

A premises where the dining area is completely separate from the bar. The dining room is primarily family focused and is the main eating area, while the bar is more suitable for an adult clientele.

Restaurant/Club (Restoclub/lounge)

A restaurant that may also operate as a nightclub after certain hours (see Nightclub above). Sometimes called a Lounge.

Social Club

These premises are primarily member only clubs such as service clubs, golf clubs and cultural clubs.

Stadium

A premises whose seating is in fixed tiers and in which live sporting and entertainment events take place before an audience.

Theatre

A place to which the public is invited that is used primarily for the viewing of live productions of the performing arts.

Train

The rolling stock of a Railway Company used for the transport of passengers but does not include rolling stock used as a street car, a subway or a similar transit vehicle.