Welcome to the Special Event Permit Online Help Centre
What’s New with Special Event Permits Online?
- Application process
- You can now apply for an SEP, pay fees and get your permit all completely online.
- BC Liquor Stores no longer issue SEPs. Although the process is now entirely online, you can still visit BC Liquor Stores for help with selecting great products for your event.
- If you do not have access to a computer, access is available at any ServiceBC Centre throughout the province. You can also access SEP Online from any other public computer with an internet connection, including libraries, recreation centres and other community facilities.
- Liquor Quantities
- You can now submit one application to host an event at multiple locations within a single municipality. If approved, each event location is issued a unique SEP.
- You are still required to report maximum liquor quantities and drink prices if you are selling drinks at your event; however, you may now report total liquor quantities as a whole for an event held at multiple locations.
- Number of Events permitted
- You can now apply for up to three (3) events per month, or 24 per year, without an exemption to LCLB policies.
- Approval Process
- I’m hosting an event at the university of british columbia vancouver campus. Are there special requirements for approvals?
UBC requires submission of site and security plans for events happening on campus with 100 or more guests. These documents must be submitted to police and the campus Fire Department at least 14 days before your event.
To learn more about application requirements at UBC visit the UBC Student Services website.
Completing an Application
- How do I complete an application?
Once you’ve signed in with your LDB account, click the Start a New Application button from your homepage and follow the steps provided. You will need to answer eligibility questions, enter event details, declare liquor quantities & prices and provide a security plan, if applicable.
- Can I cancel my application?
If you no longer wish to obtain an SEP for your event, you can cancel your draft application from your My Applications dashboard. Once cancelled, your application cannot be submitted at a later time.
- Can I withdraw my application even though it has been submitted?
You can withdraw an application in pending status at any time. Go to your My Applications dashboard and select Withdraw from the drop-down menu. Once you withdraw an application it will no longer be eligible for approval and a permit for your event will not be issued. You will not be charged an application fee.
- How do I withdraw an approved application?
If you no longer wish to obtain an SEP for your event, you can withdraw your approved application from your My Applications dashboard. Once withdrawn, your application cannot be re-submitted at a later time.
- My event is no longer taking place but I’ve already paid for my permit, can I cancel my permit?
Once your permit is issued you will not be able to cancel it. You may choose not to use your permit; however, please note that permit fees are non-refundable.
- I’m planning an event similar to one in I’ve applied for in the past, how do I copy a previous application?
Go to your My Applications dashboard and find the application you wish to copy. Click on the drop-down menu and select Copy. A new application will be created and populated with the majority of the original event details. Review and enter any new event information before submitting your application to make sure everything is correct.
Permit & Event Types
- What type of special event permit is right for my event?
There are two types of SEPs – one for private special occasions and one for public special occasions.Private special occasions
A private special occasion is an event where attendance is limited to invited guests, members and staff of an organization, or persons to whom advance tickets have been given or sold (tickets must not be sold at the door).Public special occasions
A public special occasion is an event where anyone may attend, either by obtaining a ticket at the door or simply by entering the event location. Events are considered public if they are held in a place open to the public.
- What is a family event?
A family event is a private special occasion attended by family and friends only (not open to the public), hosted by a family member or a friend of the family, to celebrate an aspect of family life. A family event can include events such as a wedding, anniversary, birthday, retirement or memorial reception.
Pre-wedding parties of any kind commonly known as bachelor and bachelorette parties (e.g., stags and stagettes) are eligible for a special event permit.
- Events at private residences
Events at private residences are not eligible for a special event permit. This is because police and government officials are unable to inspect liquor permits if they are issued in a residence.
Areas that are part of a residence, such as a common room in a strata complex, are considered private residences.
You can serve liquor without a permit in a private residence, however liquor cannot be sold and a permit cannot be issued. You can hire a commercial caterer to provide liquor service under different licensing regulations, however the sale of liquor to guests remains prohibited.
- What are events of a municipal significance?
Municipally significant events are those deemed uniquely significant to the municipality alone. For example, a municipally significant event may have historical value specific to the region or benefit the community at large. Municipally significant events must be designated as such through a municipal resolution.
- What are events of a provincial, national, or international significance?
LCLB will determine events of a provincial, national, or international significance on a case-by-case basis provided it meets the following criteria:
- participants or performers at your event are primarily from the province, Canada, or around the world;
- your event attracts spectators from around the province, Canada, or around the world;
- there is provincial, national, or world-wide media coverage of your event.
- What are other types of events that are eligible for an SEP?
For all other events, a club, society, company or other type of organization must apply for the SEP and be the host of the event (individuals are not eligible to apply). The representative of the organization applying for the SEP may be asked for proof of authority to complete the application for the host organization.
- I would like to host a hobbyist competition, what type of permit do I need?
The hobbyist competition is a subcategory of the private SEP. If you hold a hobbyist competition you may serve tastings of the wine, beer or cider entered into the competition to other participants and judges. You may not charge for tasting or for entry into the event.
Participants could be charged a cost recovery fee to enter their product for judging. Sample sizes are limited (4 ounces for beer and cider and 2 ounces for wine).
- Can an organization apply for an SEP for an event they are hosting?
Yes, in most cases the organization hosting the event will be responsible for liquor service.
The two exceptions are for family events and for events held by unincorporated organizations (such as sports teams and unregistered community groups). For these organizations the representative (an individual) will be the permittee who must take responsibility for the liquor service at the event.
- Is an SEP needed for a private party on business premises?
An SEP is not required for a private party at a business premise which is not regularly licensed if the party is held when the business is closed and if there is no charge to attend or charge for liquor. The event must not be visible to the public or likely to attract the public. The party must be restricted to the employer or the business owner and employees and their guests.
- Are Liquor Tasting Events eligible for an SEP?
Yes, tasting events give people the opportunity to sample several types of a product, such as at wine tastings.
- Who is eligible to host a tasting event?
Any non-profit organization or business.
- What size of drinks can I serve at a tasting event?
Tasting sizes are limited to smaller sizes than at normal SEP events.
Size limits are:
- 4 ounces for beer, ciders and coolers.
- 2 ounces for wine.
- ½ ounce for spirits.
- Can I charge for drinks at a tasting event?
Yes. You can charge per drink or charge for tokens or tickets that may be exchanged for drinks.
- For a tasting event, how do I enter drink charges in the Liquor step of my application?
Adjust the per drink price to reflect its value for a standard drink size. For example, a $1.00 2oz wine sample would be entered as $2.50 per drink in the liquor step.
- Can an event organizer take care of the permitting requirements when hired to plan and manage a special event?
Yes, event organizers may apply for the event permit, however this means they are the permittee/host, and therefore responsible for liquor service at the event.
- Is an SEP needed for a staff party?
An SEP is not required for a staff party if the party is held in a closed office or business premise that is not regularly licensed. The party must be restricted to the owners or employers, employees and their guests and liquor may only be served but not sold. If the business premise is a regularly licensed establishment, then an SEP will be required unless the event can be held while conforming to the terms and conditions of the licence.
Events on Public Property
- WHAT ARE MY RESPONSIBILITIES FOR EVENTS ON PUBLIC PROPERTY?
If you plan to hold an event on lands or premises owned by municipal governments, First Nations or other provincial or federal governments, you must have written permission from the local governing authority (the ‘local authority’) to provide liquor service. Common examples include events at municipal parks, recreation centres and civic plazas.
You should check with the local authority before applying, to ensure that liquor service is approved for that space and to see if additional local conditions exist. Checking with the local authority will also help to prevent conflicting uses of facilities or locations.
- DO I NEED TO PROVIDE ANYTHING TO OBTAIN A PERMIT?
You are not required to provide a letter or document confirming local approvals when applying for a special event permit; however, LCLB may request documentation confirming approvals during the application process, or after a permit is issued.
Failure to provide approval records could result in refusal to approve a permit, cancellation of an existing permit or enforcement action from LCLB with potential monetary penalties.
- WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF I DON’T RECEIVE THE CORRECT APPROVALS TO HOST AN SEP?
You are responsible for checking in advance to ensure that they have local authorities’ permission to use their facilities or properties for liquor service.
Failure to obtain the correct local approvals for an event on municipal property violates BC liquor regulations and the permit is not valid.
LCLB will work with you and with local authorities, to determine whether approval can be granted. This may include adding approval conditions that were not part of the original permit application, or that change or restrict the permit.
In some cases, local approvals cannot be granted and it is not possible to continue with an event. In those cases, a permit would be suspended or cancelled. No fee refunds are provided for cancelled permits, but PST prepayment may be refunded by the Ministry of Finance.
- DOES THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT OR FIRST NATION RECEIVE A COPY OF MY PERMIT?
Local governments and First Nations may receive a copy of SEPs issued in their jurisdictions, if they wish. Information regarding SEPs issued in an area is also available to local police.
- WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION?
Contact the local authority for the property or facility directly. You can also contact the SEP Online Help Line for more information regarding events on public property.
- What are my responsibilities as a permit holder?
Once you have obtained an SEP, it becomes your responsibility to protect guests from any harm that may result from drinking at your event – this is called the Duty of Care. This includes harm that may occur at the event or elsewhere, after the guests have left. If you serve alcohol to someone who becomes impaired, be aware that you may be legally liable for that person’s behavior until that person gets home or to another place and is able to sober up.
If a guest appears intoxicated you must not serve or sell them liquor. You have the responsibility and right under the Liquor Control & Licensing Act to forbid an intoxicated person to enter your event, or request that they leave the service area of your SEP. Take steps to ensure that the person does not harm himself/herself or others.
Ensure a safe ride home for everyone. Promote responsible drinking by ensuring there is a reasonable amount of food and non-alcoholic drinks at your event. For a complete list of responsibilities, visit the LCLB website.
- Which documents do I need to post at my event and where?
On event day, you should print, sign and post your permit in the designated liquor service area. You must also display the following documentation as applicable:
- Any terms and conditions set by the reviewing parties.
- Documents from the police or local government/First Nations.
- Letters from the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch granting exemptions or documents imposing additional terms and condition.
- Written designation of an individual who can be in attendance at the event on behalf of the permittee.
- Any other document you have been directed to post.
A security plan, if applicable to your event, should also be readily available on site should a liquor inspector or police request it.
- Once my event is over is there anything I need to do?
You will receive an email after your event is over with a check-list of what to do next.
Depending on the type of event you hosted and whether or not you sold drinks, you may have to submit post-event reports. Some things you should remember are:
- Collect and keep event documents for your records. You must keep your records for 2 years after your special event.
- You may return any extra BC Liquor Stores products, in saleable condition, to a store near you.
- Compare liquor costs and revenue from your event to the estimated cost and revenue stated in your application.
- If you overpaid PST, you may apply for a refund to the Ministry of Finance, free of charge.
- If you need to pay additional PST, learn more about how to remit additional payment.
For more information about PST adjustments visit:http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/taxes/sales-taxes/publications/pst-300-special-event-liquor-permits.pdf or call 1-877-388-4440
- I hosted a charitable fundraiser, what kinds of reports do I need to submit?
You have up to 60 days prior to your event end date to submit a summary of event revenues and expenses along with proof that proceeds, after expenses paid, were directed to a charitable purpose. You can submit your own report, financial statements or complete the Charity Fund-Raising Event Revenue Report:
Proof of proceeds can include: a letter, cancelled cheque or newspaper article.
- I received a post-event email reminding me to submit reports, but I have nothing to submit.
If you did not sell drinks at your event or host a charitable fundraiser, you may not need to submit a revenue report. If you are unsure, contact the LCLB.
- What is Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) Training and how do i know if i need it for my event?
There is a fee and a short test for each that can be done by correspondence or online.
All individuals hosting or serving liquor at an SEP event are required to take an RBS training program. Event hosts and managers with less than 500 guests must complete the Special Event Server Course. Event hosts and managers with 500 or more guests attending must complete Serving it Right.
All paid and unpaid servers must also complete the Special Event Server program.
It is not a requirement to obtain a certificate number before you apply for an SEP. However, you cannot host your event until the course has been completed. If you complete your certification before applying, you may enter it on your application during the online application process.
Out-of-Province equivalent training is accepted in lieu of certification for servers, but not for managers or permittees.
- HOW DO I OBTAIN RESPONSIBLE BEVERAGE SERVICE TRAINING?
- WHAT SHOULD I DO TO ENSURE I KEEP MINORS SAFE AT MY EVENT?
Persons under 19 years of age are allowed at licensed special events (other than a beer garden, hobby brewer or vintner’s competition, or a tasting event), but must not drink, serve or sell liquor/drink tickets.
Check ID:You are not permitted to serve liquor to anyone under 19 years of age. You, your managers and your servers are responsible for ensuring that minors do not access liquor at your event.
- DOES THE SEP APPLICANT ALWAYS HAVE TO HAVE THE RESPONSIBLE BEVERAGE SERVICE CERTIFICATION?
An applicant who is hosting any special event – including family events – needs to have a RBS certificate before the event starts.
- CAN AN SEP HOLDER USE THE RBS CERTIFICATE NUMBER OF AN EVENT MANAGER OR CATERER?
No. The applicant and permittee must have taken the RBS course and obtained a certificate. Do not put the RBS certificate number of the event manager or caterer on an SEP application.
- HOW CAN I HELP MY GUESTS GET HOME SAFELY?
ICBC produces a Special Event Support Kit that includes resources to help remind your guests to arrange a safe ride home, including posters, tent cards and a tips sheet. Order your kit from ICBC
Types & Sources of Liquor
- What types of liquor can I serve at my event?
All types of liquor may be sold or served at private special occasions with the exception of UBrew and UVin. UBrew and UVin products may be served (but not sold) at an event licensed under a Family or Hobbyist Competition special event permit.
For public special occasions, permittees may sell beer, wine, cider, coolers and spirits, but not spirits designed for rapid consumption (i.e. shooters).
- If spirits are allowed, why are shooters not allowed?
The service of shooters has been shown to carry higher risk of over-consumption and rapid intoxication than other kinds of alcoholic beverages. In the interest of public safety, the service of shooters at public special occasions is not permitted.
- Can I serve UBrew/UVin products or homemade beer or wine at my wedding, which I am holding under an SEP?
Yes. UBrew, UVin and homemade products may be served (but not sold) at an event licensed under a family special event permit. A wedding meets the criteria for a family occasion.
- I’m hosting an SEP event. Can I bring liquor from my private collection to be served by the glass or as samples for my guests?
No. All liquor served must be purchased from BC Liquor Stores, an approved Rural Agency Store or a BC winery or BC brewery. Please contact your nearest BC Liquor Store for any special ordering request you may have.
- How much liquor can I serve at my event?
You must encourage moderate consumption at all times and follow the maximum serving sizes permitted for SEP events.
- How much can I serve at one time?
To help prevent over service and intoxication of patrons and guests, limits are imposed on the amount of liquor that can be served at one time. Standard drink serving sizes permitted are:
- 340 ml (12 ounce) cans or bottles for beer, cider or coolers
- 12 ounces for draught beer, cider or coolers
- 5 ounces for individual glasses of wine
- 1.5 ounce for spirits
- Where can I purchase liquor for my event?
All liquor sold or served at an SEP event must be purchased from:
- BC Liquor Stores
- BC Wineries
- BC Breweries
- On-site distillery stores
- Can guests bring their own liquor to the event?
No, as a permittee you cannot permit guests to bring their own liquor to the special occasion. Bring your own liquor (“BYOB”) events cannot be licensed.
- Can a manufacturer bring products from its warehouse to a tasting event licensed by a private or public SEP?
Yes, as long as the liquor is transferred to the SEP holder. This transfer may be by arranging sale in advance and arriving at the event with the liquor and a receipt or invoice to the SEP holder.
- Can an SEP permittee purchase kegs of beer directly from a brewery?
Yes, you can purchase kegs of beer and beer products directly from BC breweries.
- Can I accept liquor that has been donated and serve it at my event?
Yes, under the following conditions:
- It was donated by a licensed liquor manufacturer or agent.
- The event’s purpose is to raise funds for a charitable purpose.
Only charities and non-profit organizations hosting an event to raise funds for a charitable purpose may receive donated liquor from an agent or manufacturer. For more information on this process, please visit the Resources page on the Liquor Distribution Branch Wholesale Operations website.
- Under what circumstances will a beverage garden be required?
Generally, a beverage garden will be imposed only if deemed necessary from a public safety perspective, A liquor inspector will review a number of factors in assessing the risk to public safety, including: the event character, size and duration; patron demographic; lighting; site visibility; permittee compliance history; crowd density; security presence.
Liquor & PST
- Where can I serve liquor?
On the ‘Event’ step of your SEP application, you will be asked to describe the area where liquor will be consumed. Once approved, that designated area is the only area that is licensed for the service of liquor.
If your event is outside or is using only part of a large building or hall, the liquor service area must be enclosed by a barrier sufficient to confine the sale, service and consumption of liquor to the specified area.
- I purchased too much liquor for my event, can I return unused product?
Yes, you may return unused and un-opened product purchased from BC Liquor Stores back to the point of purchase. Liquor product returns after an event are subject to the Product Return policy and restocking fee.
- How do I determine how many drinks I should serve or sell at my event?
Maximum suggested drink servings for your event are automatically calculated in Step 1 of the liquor page. You may increase or decrease drink servings to better suit your event but remember that you are responsible for the safety of your guests and are required to prevent over-service and intoxication.
- How are maximum suggested serving quantities calculated?
The standard calculation for drink servings takes into account the number of guests (over 19) multiplied by the number of liquor service hours of your event to give you the maximum suggested drink servings.
Roughly calculated as:
# GUESTS x # LIQUOR SERVICE HOURS = TOTAL DRINK SERVINGS
- Why do I need to declare if I am selling drinks at my event?
There are different rules for events that give liquor away and events where liquor is sold. For example, some events are not allowed to sell liquor and drinks must be given away free of charge.
- In the question, ‘Are you charging for drinks at your event? ’ what is considered ‘event operating costs’?
This means that you are planning to sell liquor to make back the necessary revenue to cover the cost of providing liquor service. Event operating costs include: bartending, liquor, mix, glasses, ice and taxes but does not include costs such as hall rental, entertainment or security. Most SEPs are allowed to charge for drinks for cost recovery.
- What is a charitable fundraiser?
All permittees are allowed to sell liquor at a profit provided as all proceeds (remaining revenues, once costs have been recovered) are directed to a non-profit organization whose primary purpose is to carry out charitable purposes.
The recipient of any funds raised by the event must be a non-profit organization whose primary function is to undertake charitable purposes as defined in the Act, and any funds given to such an organization must be used for charitable purposes. However, the recipient organization does not have to be a registered charity.
- Who can be a recipient of charitable proceeds?
The recipient of funds raised by the event must be a non-profit organization whose primary function is to undertake charitable purposes. The recipient organization does not have to be a registered charity; however, the applicant may be asked to provide information about the intended recipient organization so that the LCLB can determine whether the recipient’s primary function is to undertake charitable purpose.
- Can I include drink prices in my ticket or admission price?
Yes, however, you will still need to enter a drink price in the drink table in step 3 to estimate payable tax. This should be the value of the drink.
For example, if a $10.00 ticket includes 2 free drinks, and the drinks’ portion of the ticket value is $4.00, then you would enter $2.00 per drink.
- If I am providing some free drinks at my event but charging for others, what do I enter for the question ‘Are you charging for drinks at your event?’
Select ‘Combination’ from the drop-down menu. You can indicate what drinks are free and what drinks you are charging for by checking the ‘Charge’ box in step 3 of the liquor page.
- If I said I was selling drinks to raise money for a charitable purpose, why do I need to describe how proceeds will be used?
If you indicated that you are selling drinks for a charitable purpose, your application will require an additional review by the LCLB’s Licensing Division. The LCLB will review your proposal to make sure the use of proceeds complies with BC’s liquor laws for charitable fundraisers.
- What is manufacturer exclusivity?
An exclusivity agreement allows a permittee to limit the selection of liquor available at an event. This policy applies only to events that are charitable.
- What does consular privilege mean?
This means that liquor for your event has been provided from a consulate or diplomatic mission from another country. Consular liquor may be served without a liquor permit.
If your event includes both consular liquor and liquor that was not provided under that privilege, then a liquor permit is required. You must keep the two stocks of liquor separate for storage and serving purposes.
- How do I enter what types of drink type I am serving and my sale price?
Select the general category of product by clicking the ‘Alcohol Type’ drop-down menu then enter your selling price for that product. You may not exceed the maximum drink selling price which is populated in the selling price field for that item unless you have indicated that you are selling drinks for a charitable purpose (Step 2). You may sell wine for more than the maximum price set out in the table, however, you will be required to provide a reason for increasing the price and your application will be reviewed by the LCLB.
- Is there a limit on what I can charge for drinks at my event? How come I can’t increase drink selling prices?
Yes, maximum drink selling prices are set by the LCLB in the liquor price schedule and are pre-set in the liquor table next to the alcohol type you selected. Only charitable fundraising events are able to increase drink selling prices above the prices outlined in the liquor price schedule. If you wish to sell your wine for more than the maximum selling price, you may do so however; you must provide a description of the wine you plan to sell and your application will be reviewed by the LCLB before an approval is granted.
To see the liquor price schedule,click here.
- Do I need to enter the exact product brand into the table?
No. Simply enter the product type, number of servings and selling price per serving.
- Can I add more than one row of the same alcohol type?
Yes. Click the ‘Add More Drinks’ button to add another product type and/or price.
- I am serving the same product for free to some guests and charging others. How do I enter this?
Select the same alcohol type in two separate rows. Check the ‘Charging?’ box next to one row and indicate the serving quantities and selling price for the drinks which you are charging for. For the other row, do not check the ‘Charging’ box and simply indicate the total serving quantities for the drinks that will be free of charge.
- How does the table calculate my estimated revenue?
The table multiplies the total number of servings and selling prices to show a final revenue figure.
- How does the table calculate my estimated cost?
The system uses historical information on liquor products to base its cost per serving. Those costs are then multiplied by the number of servings to provide a final cost figure.
- Why do I need to declare additional information for wine?
The price for wine varies significantly compared to other alcohol types. For this reason, it is more likely that event hosts will want to serve wine for more than $7.00.
The information you provide will be reviewed by the LCLB’s Licensing Division and confirmed to ensure that the wine price you requested is reasonable to recover costs and not used for generating profits.
- Why do I need to pay Provincial Sales Tax?
SEP holders are considered resellers of liquor. Any time liquor is sold in British Columbia then there is applicable Provincial Sales Tax.
- How much is the PST?
The Provincial Sales Tax rate on liquor is ten (10) percent.
- How is PST calculated?
PST is paid in by the SEP applicant in two instalments:
- The cost of the liquor – All liquor that is purchased includes a PST portion within the sale price, regardless of whether it is given away for free or sold at an event.
- PST on resale revenue (markup) – SEP holders that resell liquor and make money must remit 10 percent of their revenues. The amount must be prepaid before a permit is issued, and an applicant can earn it back by selling liquor at an event, like a deposit.
More information about PST for special event permits is available at:http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/taxes/sales-taxes/publications/pst-300-special-event-liquor-permits.pdf or via phone toll free at: 1-877-388-4440.
- What if I decide to make changes to my liquor quantities or prices after my permit is issued?
You cannot adjust your drink prices or number of servings once you’ve submitted your application; however, you may choose to serve less liquor than the maximum declared or sell drinks for a lower price.
If you want to serve more liquor than the declared maximum or charge a higher price then you will need to withdraw your application and submit a new one with the updated prices. If a permit has already been issued you will need to submit a new application and pay again. Refunds will not be provided in this case.
- What if the final cost of the liquor purchased for my event is different than the estimated cost on my application?
You will need to calculate your final event costs and revenues and determine whether you overpaid or underpaid applicable tax.
This tool is an estimate, and while SEP Online will provide a figure close to your expected revenues and expenses, adjustments may be needed after the event is over.
To find out more see the Ministry of Finance’s PST bulletinhere.
- How do I obtain a refund or remit additional Provincial Sales Tax once my event is over?
You must contact the Ministry of Finance Consumer Taxation Programs Branch at:
1-877-388-4440. For more information visit:
- Are there any other reporting requirements once my event is over?
If you received approval for a price exemption for charitable purposes, you will need to submit a Charity Fund-Raising Event Revenue Report of your event’s revenues and expenses to the LCLB within 60 days.A basic template is available here:http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/employment-business-and-economic-development/business-management/liquor-regulation-licensing/forms/lclb032_charity_fund-raising_event_revenue_report.pdf
You can submit your own statements and other documentation, such as cancelled cheques, letters of thanks or newspaper articles demonstrating disbursement of proceeds or use for approved purposes.
- If I am a GST registrant, do I have to charge GST on my liquor sales?
The Good and Services Tax (GST) is administered by the federal government. If you are registered with Revenue Canada as a “GST/HST registrant” you must collect and account for the GST according to the requirements of the Canada Revenue Agency on your liquor sales. If you are not a “GST/HST registrant” you cannot collect GST on your liquor sales. Please contact the Canada Revenue Agency for any questions about GST.
- How much does a special event permit cost?
- Private Special Occasions
Permit fee is $25.00 per day/location (includes family event permits.)Public Special Occasions
Permit fee is $100.00 per day/location.
- Why are SEP application fees non-refundable?
SEP application fees are non-refundable. Fees charged to the applicant are used to cover the administrative costs of reviewing and processing special event permits.
- What is a security plan and how do I know if I need one?
A security plan is required for all events over 500 people. In addition to the security questions asked on the ‘Security’ section of your application, you must submit an event site map to your local LCLB regional office.
- How do I submit my event site map?
If your event requires a security plan, event site maps may be submitted by regular mail, fax or email. To submit your event site map, please contact your local LCLB office. LCLB regional offices are listed on the Contact Us page.
- What if I don’t have hired police officers or volunteers to manage the security for my event?
If you choose to hire security staff for your event, there are additional requirements for the number and certification of security staff.
If you have not hired security personnel for your event, you may enter a zero (0) into the provided field. A member of the review team will contact you should changes to your security plan or more information be required.
- What are exemptions and how do I know if I need to apply for them?
Exemptions are required when an application requests permission to operate outside the normal LCLB policies. There is no fee charged for reviewing an exemption request. If your application requires an exemption your application must be submitted no later than 14 days prior to your event start date. Submitting your SEP application 30 days in advance is strongly suggested.Exemptions grant the applicant with permission to:
- Hold more than three SEPs per month or more than 24 per year.
- Extend the hours of a special event beyond 10 pm for outdoor events or 2:00AM for indoor events.
- Charge more for drinks than the prices specified in the liquor price schedule.
- Obtain a permit fee adjustment for limited hours of liquor service for a multi-day event (because events held with limited liquor service hours on multiple days can be considered eligible for one permit with one fee).
- Make profit from events of municipal, provincial, national, or international significance.
Permitted hours for all special occasion events are:
- Indoor events:9 am – 2 am the following day
- Outdoor events:9 am – 10 pm the same day
Applications requesting to extend the hours for a special event beyond permitted hours must provide a reason for the request and explain strategies that will be implemented to prevent disturbing the nearby community.Maximum Number of SEPs
LCLB policy generally limits an applicant to three SEPs per month or 24 in one year.
In some cases an applicant may be allowed to apply for more frequent SEPs if it is in the public interest and if SEPs are not being used in a manner that is more appropriate for a permanent liquor permit.
For example: A 5-day curling tournament would be considered for a policy exemption whereas; a weekly music performance on Fridays and Saturdays would not.Charge More for Drinks
BC’s liquor laws do not allow SEP’s to be used for personal or commercial profit unless the event is of municipal, provincial, national, or international significance. As a result, drink prices at SEP events are limited to ensure that liquor sales are used for cost recovery. Events with higher drink prices may request permission to sell liquor and direct proceeds to a charitable purpose.
Wine may be sold for more than $7.00 per drink if reasons are provided and approved by the LCLB for the need to raise drink prices above the schedule maximums. Those requests will also be reviewed by LCLB’s licensing division.Municipal, provincial, national, or internationally significant events
Municipally significant events are determined by the municipality through a resolution, however LCLB will review the exemption request
Provincial, national, or internationally significant events are determined by LCLB on a case by case basis provided it meets the following criteria:
- participants or performers at your event are primarily from the province, Canada, or around the world;
- your event attracts spectators from around the province, Canada, or around the world;
- there is provincial, national or world-wide media coverage at your event.
If the event is designated a municipal, provincial, national, or internationally significant event, the permittee may charge above the cost recovery price list and make a profit from the event. There is no revenue report requirement.Permit fee adjustments for limited hours of liquor service.
Some events, such as theatre productions, operate very differently when compared to other SEP events. When these events provide very limited liquor service hours each day over multiple dates, they may qualify for a reduced permit fee.
Police & Liquor Inspectors
- What is the role of police and liquor inspectors in the approval process of my application?
Approval requirements will depend on whether the event is private or public and the size of the event. If police in your community believe that your event’s size and nature requires approval then your application will require review before a permit can be issued.
The police may place additional restrictions on or alter the terms and conditions that apply to the permit should they identify potential enforcement concerns.
- What is the role of police and liquor inspectors on my event day?
Police and liquor inspectors have the right to enter and inspect the premises while your event is in progress. They may suspend an SEP immediately for reasons of public safety, seize illicit liquor and/or take other measures where a permittee has contravened the conditions of the permit. The holder of the SEP may remain liable to penalties for those violations for up to six months after the event has ended.
- What does a liquor inspector do when notified of a large special occasion?
The Inspector reviews the security plan for the event in detail whereas police comment and advise the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCLB) whether the security planned for the large event is sufficient to maintain public order and safety.
- If my event is attended by a liquor inspector; do I have to pay a fee?
Depending on the nature of your event, and whether there have been complaints or concerns with prior similar events, the LCLB General Manager may require that one or more liquor inspectors attend your event. In this case you will be billed for the inspector’s time and travel ($330 per inspector per day, plus reasonable travel expenses).
There is no additional charge for regular inspections of SEP licensed premises where the LCLB General Manager has not made the determination that inspectors must attend the event.
- When are extra fees for inspection services charged?
If it is determined that your event requires liquor inspector attendance then inspector services fees will be billed after the event. Failure to pay the bill may result in denial of SEPs in the future or collection measures taken by the province. If, during the event, it is apparent that inspection services are not required or that less time is, or fewer inspectors are required, a refund on the pre-paid inspector services cost will be given.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Are promoters or event organizers eligible to apply?
Yes, promoters and event organizers, as businesses, are able to apply for an SEP. However, they will be responsible for the liquor service at the event including any contraventions that may occur.
- I've hired a professional caterer or bartenders. Can they apply on my behalf?
Yes, however, they will be responsible for the liquor service at the event including any contraventions that may occur.
- What if I submit my application with less than 14 days’ notice, and it requires review? Will it be reviewed in time?
If you apply late and your application requires review then we encourage you to contact the reviewing authority (police, liquor inspector or LCLB headquarters) right away. Our staff will work with you to approve applications whenever possible, however we cannot guarantee approval of late submissions.
- I overpaid Provincial Sales Tax. How do I get a refund?
- See the Liquor and PST section below to learn more about applying for a refund for PST overpayments.
- Can I make changes to my permit after it has been received?
Changes cannot be made once a permit has been issued. You may need to reapply and pay a separate permit fee and PST prepayment. You would be eligible for a PST refund from the first application, however the permit fee is non-refundable.
- How long does it take for my application to get approved?
Approval times can vary significantly depending on the size and complexity of an event. Most small, family events can be approved in 7 – 14 days while large festival approvals can take several months.
To find out more precise application approval timelines contact the SEP Online Help Line or your local police.