If you are hosting an event in Alberta and would like to serve or sell alcohol, you must apply for a Special Event License (SEL) – a type of temporary Alberta liquor license. The following overview summarizes the requirements of an SEL and the responsibilities of licensees. Alberta liquor licensing is complex and the following overview provides only the primary features of an SEL. For detailed information, please visit the Alberta Gaming & Licensing Commission (AGLC) Special Events License page.
Private Special Event Licenses
Private (non-sale) Licenses allow the licensee to provide alcohol free of charge to invited guests. Private (non-sale) licenses can be obtained by non-profits and charitable organizations, by adults for family functions, and by businesses.
Private (resale) Licenses allow the licensee to sell liquor to invited guests and are available to non-profits and charitable organizations, to adults for family functions, and to business staff and social committees.
Requirements for Private Special Event Licenses and Licensee Responsibilities
- Special event license hours limitations: Liquor service hours may be between 10am and 2am with liquor consumption until 3 am A one-hour consumption period is permissible after service ends. For example, if you serve liquor at the event from 1pm to 4pm. all drinks must be consumed by 5pm
- Suitable locations for private events include community halls, banquets, meeting rooms, fenced areas, and tents (if approved by the municipality).
- Licenses for up to 400 guests can be authorized by a retail liquor store, general merchandise liquor store or off-sales room. If your event will have over 400 guests, the license must be approved by the AGLC.
- Minors may attend the private special event, but may not consume alcohol.
- Minor cannot sell alcohol tickets but can be employed as kitchen or service help.
- People purchasing or in possession of alcohol who appear to be under 25 must show ID.
- Non-alcohol beverages must be available to guests.
- Spirits must be served by the drink. Bottle sales are prohibited.
- Alcohol must be purchased from an Alberta retail store, general merchandise store or off-sales room. Receipts must be kept and available at the event.
- Drink prices can be set by the licensee and must be posted. Pricing must apply to individual drinks and cannot be for multiple drink orders or specials such as “two drinks”, or “two for the price of one”.
- You may advertise your event, but advertising must state “For members and invited guests only”.
View the AGLC Private Special Event pamphlet (PDF).
Public Special Event Licenses
Public special event licenses are required for the sale, possession and storage of alcohol at an event open to the public. There are two types of public special event licenses: Public Resale-Commercial and Public Resale-Community. Both licenses have their own set of policies and guidelines (see below) and must also comply with Special Event License General Policies and Guidelines.
Public Resale-Commercial Licenses must be obtained if the event holder is a corporation or individual.
View the Public Resale-Commercial License Policies and Guidelines (PDF).
Public Resale-Community Licenses must be obtained if the event holder is a non-profit organization, a municipality, a registered charity, a service club or association, or a company incorporated under Part 9 of the Companies Act.
View the Public Resale-Community License Policies and Guidelines (PDF).
Need an Alberta Liquor License?
If you are considering applying for an Alberta liquor license or special event license, contact the liquor licensing experts at Rising Tide Consultants. Our services take the pain out of license application and increase your chances of AGLC approval. Contact us today!
Looking for a temporary liquor license in BC? Visit our BC Special Event Permits page.