BC liquor licensing isn’t as straight forward as some people think. It’s not just a matter of filling out an online application, paying a fee and waiting a couple of weeks. Obtaining a BC liquor license often requires considerable investment in time and money, and always requires knowledge of BC Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) liquor licensing rules.
For these reasons, would-be liquor licensees should work with a professional BC liquor license consultant such as Thrive Liquor & Cannabis Advisors. An experienced consultant ensures that all license requirements are met – before and after a BC liquor license application is approved.
The following are 5 facts that all BC liquor license applicants should know.
In BC, applicants seeking a new license may apply for one of several liquor licenses, including:
Food Primary: for restaurants and other businesses that primarily serve food. Application processing takes up to 12 weeks, assuming this is hour until midnight and no dancing is proposed. If these two items are added, public consultation is required, so add on an additional 2-3 months to work through this process.
Liquor Primary: for bars, pubs, nightclubs, theatres, stadiums, spas, salons, art galleries, and private clubs. Application processing takes 7-12 months and sometimes longer depending upon the municipality the application is proposed.
Manufacturer: for wineries, breweries and distilleries. Application processing takes 4-6 months.
Agent: for liquor agents who market products made outside of BC. Processing of new applications takes up to 6 weeks.
Catering: for catering companies who primarily serve food. Application processing takes 4-6 weeks.
UBrew/UVin: for companies that provide equipment, space and guidance to customers who want to make their own beer, wine, cider and coolers. Application processing takes up to 6 weeks.
Licensee Retail Store*: for private liquor stores and cold beer and wine stores.
Wine Store*: for independent wine stores, Vintners Quality Alliance wine stores, and tourist wine stores.
Speciality Wine Store*: for the sale of wine in a designated area of a grocery store.
The list above was adapted from the LCRB “Applying for a Liquor License or Permit” web page.
* The BC government has placed a moratorium on the license. No applications are accepted. Connect with us if you are seeking one of theses types of licenses, as they must be purchased.
All BC liquor license applicants must submit a Personal History Summary form, including a criminal record check obtained from a local RCMP detachment within 4 months of submitting your liquor license application. Having a criminal record doesn’t cause an application to be automatically rejected. The LCRB reviews each case to ascertain the severity and date of the offence(s), and how the offense(s) relate to the responsibility of holding a liquor license.
Incomplete BC liquor license applications can cause long delays, which is why applicants should work with an experienced liquor license consultant. BC liquor licensing consultants ensure that all requirements are met before the application is submitted.
As mentioned earlier in this post, the BC government has frozen some liquor license applications. The government has placed a moratorium on:
It’s still possible to buy a BC liquor license by purchasing an existing business. For more information, please read “Why Buying a Liquor License in BC May Be Your Only Option”.
Once your liquor license is approved, you’re required to uphold BC government requirements and stay on top of changes to BC liquor licensing rules. To safeguard your hard-won liquor license, you’ll also need to ensure your business is set up properly for optimal sales, staff are properly trained, and best practices manuals are written and followed by your staff.
Since 2003, Thrive Liquor & Cannabis Advisors has helped BC businesses successfully apply for liquor licenses. Our work doesn’t stop there, though! We also help businesses implement operational strategy and provide insight to optimize sales, while ensuring your business remains compliant with LCRB regulations.