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FAQs - Alcohol


General Alcohol FAQs

1. What are acceptable forms of age identification?

Although any identification with a photo, a date of birth and that reasonably appears to have been issued by a government may be accepted by a licensee, there are eight types of government-issued prescribed identification that the licensee may rely on to reasonably establish a patron’s age:

  1. Ontario driver’s licence
  2. Canadian passport
  3. Canadian Citizenship card
  4. Canadian armed forces identification card
  5. LCBO “BYID” photo card
  6. Secure Indian Status card (Canadian)
  7. Permanent Resident card (Canadian),
  8. any photo card issued under the Photo Card Act, 2008

Note: BYID application forms can be downloaded from the LCBO's Web site at: http://www.lcbo.com/socialresponsibility/byidcard.shtml or requested at any LCBO retail outlet. For more information on the BYID Card, please call the BYID Administrator at: 416-864-6632 or helloLCBO Toll-Free at 1-800 668-5226 or 416-365-5900 in the GTA. TTY Users dial toll-free at 1-800-361-3291. The application fee is $30.

We remind all licensees and servers to please check identification cards carefully to ensure that it has not been tampered with or borrowed. Examine the photo; birth date information and expiry date. For more tips on spotting fake ID, speak to our inspectors or refer to our Checking I.D. Responsible Service Tip Sheet located on our web site.

2. What are Retail Sales Tax Certificates of Compliance?

A liquor licence holder is responsible for paying Retail Sales Tax (RST). The Registrar of Alcohol and Gaming is required to propose to revoke a liquor licence or refuse to renew or transfer a liquor licence for non-payment of RST.

Electronic Link

When the AGCO receives an application, the information is transferred electronically to the Ministry of Finance. The Ministry of Finance checks their records and in the case where an applicant is behind in RST payments, the Ministry of Finance will notify the applicant of the situation and advise the licensee they are responsible for clearing any outstanding RST amounts prior to a licence being issued. At the same time the AGCO is notified electronically. Licensees and applicants that are in arrears with the Ministry of Finance for Retail Sales Tax may experience some delays as they clear up their accounts. The first step you can take in streamlining the process for yourself is to keep your account with the Ministry of Finance current.

3. What are the hours for alcohol service?

Liquor may be sold and served during the following hours:

Licensed establishments and Special Occasion Permit events:
Monday to Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.
New Year's Eve (December 31): 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m.

The licensee or permit holder may choose shorter hours of operation. Restricted hours of sale and service may be established as a condition of a licence or Special Occasion Permit.

Serving hours remains the same on federal, provincial and municipal election days.

4. What is the legal drinking age in Ontario?

The legal age to drink alcohol is 19 years old.

5. What is the legal age for serving alcohol?

The legal age to serve alcohol in a licensed establishment is 18 years old. "serving alcohol" includes taking drink orders, taking payment for beverage alcohols, stocking the refrigerator or bar area, and bartending.

6. Can I make alcohol at home?

You may make beer or wine at home as long as it is only for your personal consumption or to be given away free of charge. Homemade (or "u-brew") beer or wine may not be sold or used commercially.

Homemade spirits and the use of a still in a person's home are illegal under the Excise Act of Canada.

7. Under what circumstances is it illegal to transport beverage alcohol?

It is illegal to transport beverage alcohol in a motor vehicle, a motorized snow vehicle or a boat unless the beverage alcohol is in a container that is unopened and the seal unbroken, or unless the beverage alcohol is packaged in baggage that is fastened closed or is not otherwise readily available to anyone in the vehicle. In a boat, the beverage alcohol must be stored in a closed compartment.

8. Can I be barred from a licensed establishment?

Licence holders have the right to eject or refuse entry to any person whose presence they have reason to believe may be undesirable. If the person refuses to leave or insists on entering the establishment, the licence holder may request police assistance.

9. Can beverage alcohol manufacturers and licensees donate product for an Auction event if the proceeds are for charitable, educational, religious or community objects?

Alcohol can only be auctioned under the authority of an Auction Authorization. Private citizens can donate beverage alcohol for these events, but manufacturers and licensees who have purchased alcohol under their liquor sales licence may not. For more information on auctions, visit the Auction Authorizations web page.

10. Do I need a Special Occasion Permit if I am serving beverage alcohol free of charge?

You do not need a permit or licence to serve beverage alcohol, if you serve the alcohol:

  • free of charge in a residence (NOTE: it is illegal to sell beverage alcohol in a residence); or
  • free of charge in a private place (a "private place" is an indoor place that is not generally open to the public and is not open to the public at the time of the event e.g., a private office).
11. Moving liquor to a new location

If you are contemplating moving from your current licensed establishment to a new location, besides applying for a liquor licence at the new location consider what you are going to do with the liquor you currently own when you move.

The liquor from your existing premises has been purchased under your current licence, and taking this to your new licensed premises is not allowed under the following regulation 719/90 section 31. (1) Which states:

  • The licence holder may keep for sale, sell and serve, only liquor that the licence holder purchased under the licence.
  • Your licence does not move from premises to premises, and your new premises will be given a new licence number.
  • Before you move location you should check with your local LCBO store to advise you how to change your existing purchases to your new licence.
12. Buying a licensed premises?
  • Consider buying the business "conditional" on obtaining a liquor licence, and consider not closing the deal until you have been notified by the Commission that your application is successful. Consider having the current licensee continue to operate the premises while you apply for a liquor licence, this dramatically reduces any problems you may have while transferring the licence.
  • If you have already closed the deal and you want to sell and serve liquor and the current licensee wants you to operate the premises, you must obtain an Authorization to Contract Out certificate issued by the Commission.
  • If you operate under an Authorization to Contract Out, both you, the applicant, and the licensee remain liable for any infractions, or charges and these will need to be resolved prior to your transfer application being considered.
  • If you commit an infraction against the Liquor Licence Act while operating under an Authorization to Contract Out your application may be refused by way of a Notice of Proposal to Refuse Transfer. In this case, the Authorization to Contract Out will expire and you may no longer operate the premises.
  • Make sure before you apply to transfer an existing liquor licence that the RST is paid up to date by the existing licensee. The commission cannot accept an application if monies are owing to the Ministry of Finance.
  • Check with the licensee to ensure that they do not have an outstanding Notice of Proposal, or charges and that there are no other unresolved allegations of non-compliance arising from inspections by inspectors or police. The commission cannot provide this information directly; a request under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act has to be made to the commission.
  • Make sure the liquor licence is not about to expire; if it does there will be no licence to transfer. Also note; the existing expiry date of the licence when transferred stays the same, you may need to renew soon after the licence is issued.
  • Make sure you and the licensee sign all the documents that form the application, and remember to include the fee. There are many other items to deal with when buying or selling a business or real property; protect your investment, consider having the help of a lawyer.
13. Selling a licensed premises?
  • Check with the Ministry of Finance to ensure you do not owe any money for Retail Sales Tax. The commission cannot accept an application if monies are owing to the Ministry of Finance, this could put off a potential buyer.
  • The commission cannot accept a transfer application if you have an outstanding Notice of Proposal.
  • Make sure the liquor licence is not about to expire; if it does there will be no licence to transfer.
  • Make sure you sign all the documents that form the application.
  • Consider continuing to operate the premises until the purchaser has been approved for the liquor licence. If the deal has closed and the purchaser wishes to sell and serve liquor and you fully understand the implications of this action then sign the Authorization to Contract out.
  • If you allow the purchaser to operate under an Authorization to Contract Out, you remain liable for any infractions, or charges. If the purchaser commits any infractions whilst operating, and is charged leading to a hearing, this could slow down the transfer process, and possibly damage your business.
  • Do not let the purchaser operate the premises unless the commission has issued the authorization certificate. There are many other items to deal with when buying or selling a business or real property; protect your investment, consider having the help of a lawyer.