The BC Ministry of Justice’s Liquor Control and Licensing Branch is responsible for the control and licensing of all forms of drinkable alcohol in the province. Among those regulated by the branch are bars and restaurants, alcohol manufacturers, private alcohol stores, and caterers serving alcohol at special occasions.

While one school of thought may think that BC liquor laws are strict, it is vital for establishments that are required to obtain liquor licenses to do so, or severe penalties may follow.

The Liquor Control and Licensing Act lists very stringent penalties for those who contravene it. Those who do not possess a liquor license are not allowed to sell alcohol in BC, and even those who do must follow a very strict set of rules.

The following are possible outcomes of selling liquor in breach of this act:

· For an individual: a fine of up to $50,000 and up to 12 months in prison and an additional $10,000 for any other breaches of the act.

· For a business: a fine of up to $100,000 and an additional $50,000 for any other breaches of the act.

How Do I Get A Liquor License?

Getting a liquor license isn’t always straightforward, and it is important to understand the circumstances for which you require the license, as well as the process to acquire it.

For example, one license that is difficult to obtain is the Special Occasion License (SOL), a temporary license meant for special occasions. Even if you are organizing a big special event, you do not have permission to serve alcohol without this license. Problems can arise in this situation, as rules in British Columbia are often considered strict. Most people are unaware that a SOL can only be applied for by an organization, not an individual, and that there is a maximum of two SOLs per month.

However, even businesses can run into problems. In a high profile case that many might remember, the Rio Cinema, an East Van cinema, was caught in a catch-22. The cinema was only able to receive a license if it promised not to show movies of any kind at any time.

What Is the Best Course of Action if I Want to Serve Alcohol?

There is no question that applying for a liquor license is a must in this case. Liquor inspectors are very active in the province, and serving alcohol unlicensed should not be considered as an option. It is best to familiarize yourself with the province’s liquor laws.

If you run into problems obtaining a license, it is always wise to contact a professional service such as Rising Tide Consultants. We have the experience to ensure that you take the right steps towards successful acquisition. Contact us at 604-669-2928 for more information, or browse our site to see what services we offer.

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