Temporary Liquor Licenses in BC. What You Need to Know

Temporary liquor licenses – formerly “Special Occasion License” and recently renamed Special Event Permits (SEP) –  are one-time permits that allow hosts to serve and sell liquor in BC at special events. Types of special events include family gatherings, private functions, festivals and manufacturer tastings. The host of the special event is responsible for the safety of guests and all permittees and staff must have Special Event Server training for all such events, and additionally, Serving it Right training for events with 500 or more attendees.

BC Special Event Permit fees:

Public Special Event: $100 fee per day per location.

Private Special Events: $25 fee per day per location.

Special Event Permit holders are considered resellers, and therefore must pay applicable PST (10% at this time). PST is paid in two installments: 1) As part of the cost of the liquor when purchased whether it is given away or sold at the event; and, 2) Prepaid PST on resale markup. Payment must be made before the permit is issued.

BC Temporary Liquor License Permittee Requirements and Responsibilities

The many requirements and responsibilities of special event permit holders are detailed in the BC Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (BCLCLB) publication “Special Event Permit Terms and Conditions” (PDF). Here are just a few requirements.

  • Mandatory Serving it Right self-study training for permittees, managers and servers for events with 500+ attendees.
  • Mandatory Special Event Server training for all permittees, managers and anyone serving alcohol at events with fewer than 500 attendees.
  • A list of all staff who have Serving it Right and/or Special Event Server training and their certificate numbers. These must be available if requested by a liquor inspector.
  • Permit holders must be present at the special event for its duration.
  • The event must be held at the location and address specified by your BC temporary liquor license.
  • Maximum pricing is set. Should a licensee wish to charge more than the max amounts, ALL of the profits from the event must be donated to charity.
  • Special events have the following attendance requirements:
    • Ticketed events: limited to the permittee, staff, invited guests or people who purchased a ticket prior the event.
    • Family events: limited to family members and friends of the permittee.
    • Wine or beer competitions: limited to the permittee and staff, invited guests, or persons who have been given tickets before the event.
  • Temporary liquor license permittees are responsibility for the conduct of staff. You are responsible for the actions (or inaction) for both paid staff and unpaid volunteers.
  • Overcrowding: you must adhere to crowd size restrictions for the event and in service areas as stipulated by your BC special event permit.
  • Patron and public safety: as a permit holder, you are responsible for patron safety and public safety including:
    • Patron clearance: ensuring attendees are entitled to be at the event and do not possess anything illegal such as drugs or weapons.
    • Lighting and visibility must be adequate to allow permittees and staff to control patrons and check I.D.
    • Overservice and intoxication of event attendees: intoxicated persons may not enter the event or remain at the event. You must refuse intoxicated people service, have them removed from the event, and ensure they leave safely.
    • Disorderly or riotous conduct: you are responsible for ensuring that no disorderly or unlawful activities take place at your event. If you suspect such behaviour, you must contact the police.
    • You must have a security plan and security staff if required by your special event permit.
  • You must not serve alcohol to minors.

The BC temporary liquor license (special event permit) terms and requirements above are some of the highlights. Others include the source of liquor (where it is purchased), hours of liquor service, dispensing liquor and mixing drinks, serving amounts, liquor pricing, liquor service wind-down, gaming, entertainment and adult entertainment, entertainer conduct, advertising, documents and signage.

Temporary Liquor License Resources

Need a Special Event Permit?

If you require a BC temporary liquor license, contact our special event permit experts at Rising Tide Consultants to arrange a consultation. We’ll answer your questions and help you meet the requirements necessary – increasing the chances that your application is approved.