"Special Occasion Permits are for the sale and service of beverage alcohol at special occasions such as weddings, charity fundraisers, receptions etc. Special Occasion Permits are issued through Liquor Control Board of Ontario ("LCBO") SOP service stores throughout the province on behalf of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (“AGCO”)."
As of July 1, 2012, changes to Regulation 389 of the Liquor Licence Act governing SOPs are in effect. These changes represent the third installment of the modernization of the SOP program, with previous changes having been implemented in June and August 2011. For more information on these changes, please visit our website page: Special Occasion Permit Reform.
An SOP is required if you are planning to sell or serve alcohol at special occasions, such as weddings, charity fundraisers and receptions. An SOP is needed any time alcohol is offered for sale or served anywhere other than in a licensed establishment or a private place (for example, a private office or a residence).
There are three types of special occasions for which a permit may be issued:
- Private Event: For events where only invited guests will attend. These events cannot be advertised and there can be no intent to gain or profit from the sale of alcohol at the event.
- Public Events: For events that are open to the public. Public events can be advertised and allow for fundraising/profit from the sale of alcohol.
- Industry Promotional Events: For events held to promote a manufacturer’s product(s) through sampling. There can be no intent to gain or profit from the sale of alcohol at the event.
The Registrar of Alcohol and Gaming may impose one or more AGCO-Board approved conditions on a Special Occasion Permit to mitigate identified risks to public safety or the public interest (see Conditions).
A monetary penalty may be assessed against a permit holder by the Registrar of Alcohol and Gaming for breaches of the Liquor Licence Act and Regulations (see Schedule of Monetary Penalties).
Liquor Sales Licensed Establishments and SOPs
A Special Occasion Permit may be issued for an event at a licensed establishment. The applicant and the event type would need to meet the legislated criteria. Some considerations include purchasing the alcohol for the event under the authority of the SOP and not from the licence holder, and the conditions applied to the licence of that particular establishment would continue to apply under the SOP.
An applicant in the process of acquiring a Liquor Sales Licence may also apply for one (1) SOP to host a "grand opening" event while waiting to receive their Liquor Sales Licence.
A "private place" is defined as an indoor place to which the public is not ordinarily invited or permitted and is not available for rent to the public for occasional use. A company´s private boardroom is an example of a "private place".
An SOP is not required for a function at a "private place" if there is no sale of alcohol and the event is held only for invited guests.
However, if alcohol is being sold in a "private place", an SOP is always required unless the event is already being held under the authority of a caterer´s endorsement.
Classes of SOPs
There are two classes of Special Occasion Permits available:
- Sale: A Sale SOP is issued when money is collected for the sale of alcohol either directly or indirectly. This could be through, for example, an admission charge to the event, when tickets for alcohol are sold to people attending the event, or when there is any pre-collection of money for the alcohol. The application fee for a Sale Permit is $75.00, for up to three consecutive days.
- No Sale: A No Sale SOP is issued when alcohol is served without charge or when there is no money collected for alcohol – either directly or indirectly – from guests.
The application fee for a No Sale Permit is $25.00 per day.
Permit applications must be submitted to an LCBO SOP service store at least 30 days before the event takes place, except for Private Events which require a minimum of 10 days notice.
For outdoor events, the permit holder must write to the local municipality, police, and fire and health departments notifying them of the event. The building department must be notified as well if a tent, marquee, pavilion or tiered seating is used. This notification must be provided at least 30 days before the event takes place if fewer than 5,000 people per day are expected to attend the event, or at least 60 days before the event takes place if 5,000 people per day or more are expected to attend the event.
The permit area must be clearly defined and separated from the area(s) where the SOP does not apply by a minimum 36" (0.9 metres) high partition.
Once an SOP is issued, all alcohol for the event must be purchased under the permit from an authorized government retail store (such as an LCBO, an LCBO Agency Store, The Beer Store or any Winery, Brewery or Distillery Store). One exception is the service of homemade wine or beer for religious events (see FAQs - Question 10).
Manufacturers are permitted to donate alcohol only to eligible charitable organizations holding a Public Event SOP. All alcohol donated must be processed as a sale under the permit number and a receipt must be retained by the permit holder and be available for inspection. For more information regarding donating alcohol, contact the AGCO at 416-326-8700 or toll free 1-800-522-2876.
For more detailed information about SOPs, download our Application for a Special Occasion Permit Form and Guide (PDF available below).
You can download the SOP application located below or obtain an application form from any LCBO store. The completed application, with appropriate alcohol licensing fees, may be hand-delivered to any designated LCBO SOP Service Store.
If you wish to auction alcohol at your event, please visit our webpage on:
New and updated PDF forms on this site can be filled-in and saved locally to your PC. This updated feature preserves all of the information you have filled in, however, version 6.05 or later of Adobe Reader® is required. Download Adobe Acrobat Reader®
Important Application Reminders
- For PDF forms completed online or offline, please ensure ALL the input information has printed out on your application.
- For PDF forms filled-in by hand, please ensure you PRINT legibly in ink.
- Please ensure ALL required questions are completed. Incomplete, improperly completed or unsigned applications will be returned to applicant.