Frequently Asked Questions
What is the legal drinking age in B.C.?
The legal drinking age is 19. Anyone under 19 is a minor.
What is the definition of liquor?
In B.C., liquor is defined as beer, wine, or spirits, or any other product intended for human consumption, that contains more than 1% alcohol by volume. Some products such as cooking wine and liquor-filled chocolates can be classified as non-beverage alcohol and may not be considered liquor.
I’m 19 or over. Can I buy liquor for a minor, or give liquor to a minor?
It is generally against the law to provide liquor to a minor. However, there are situations where liquor can be given to minors such as:
- given to a minor by his or her parent, spouse or guardian in a residence for consumption in the residence,
- administered to a minor by or under the authority of a medical practitioner or dentist for medicinal purposes, or
- wine given to a minor as part of a religious ceremony
What type of identification do I need in order to purchase liquor?
If you are asked to provide identification (ID), you will be required to show the following:
- An official government issued ID (including foreign government issued) with name, picture and birth date; such as a driver’s licence or passport
- A secondary ID that includes name and signature or picture; such as a credit card or student ID
An expired ID may be used as long as it proves the holder’s age. If a server has any doubt about an ID, they may refuse service.
How can I sell liquor in my grocery store?
An existing licensee retail store (private liquor store) or wine store may relocate into your grocery store to sell their products in either a "store-within-a-store" model or a "100% B.C. wine on shelves" model. To see if your grocery store meets the eligibility criteria and to apply, please submit the Grocery Store Declaration (LCLB090) (PDF, 654 KB).
When is a liquor licence not required?
Liquor equipment manufacturers and facilities that manufacture liquor for educational or scientific purposes may produce liquor without a licence or permit. Liquor produced by such manufacturers is not permitted to be sold. These types of manufacturers are already regulated by the Canada Revenue Agency.
Home brewers do not require a licence to produce liquor either at home or at another private location, such as a private business or warehouse. Home brewers can’t produce liquor at a public place.
Can I drink in public?
You cannot drink liquor in a public place unless that public place is licensed or designated by a municipality or regional district as a place where liquor can be consumed. However, you may drink liquor in a residence or private place, such as outdoors on your property or at your campsite.
Can the police arrest me if I’m drunk in public?
Yes. They may also seize your liquor. (Please see Liquor seizures for more information.)
Can I have liquor in my car?
Liquor in a container that has been opened or has a broken factory seal must not be readily accessible to anyone in a motor vehicle. Possession of open liquor in any private or commercial motor vehicle (such as a party bus or a limo) is illegal whether the motor vehicle is moving or not.
Can I drink in my RV/trailer?
For recreational vehicles such as motor homes, campers, and trailers, consumption of liquor is only permitted where camping is allowed. At no time may the driver or passengers consume liquor while the vehicle is mobile.
Can I drink in my boat?
The same rules which prohibit driving while impaired also apply to boats: you must not operate, assist to operate, or have the care and control of a vessel while impaired by alcohol or with a blood alcohol level more than .08. Liquor must only be consumed in boats or other watercraft if the boat is licensed or it is a boat that the public does not have access to and is equipped with sleeping accommodations, cooking facilities and a toilet. In these cases, liquor may be consumed in the cabin or on the deck of the boat.
People using smaller boats for a special event (such as a day charter by a social club for its members) must obtain a Special Event Permit if they wish to sell or serve liquor to participants. Cruise ships and larger motor vessels that travel scheduled routes or from one destination to another may be licensed if they provide a service that, while primarily marine oriented, is consistent with the services provided by other sectors of the hospitality industry (for example, luncheon and dinner cruises).
Can I drink in a hospital, an assisted living residence/nursing home, or a community care facility?
A person who is living in a registered assisted living residence or staying in a licensed long term care facility is permitted to consume liquor inside their room. It is Ministry of Health policy that, in an assisted living residence, liquor storage and consumption in a resident’s room is at the resident’s discretion. In a community care facility the licensee of the facility may set additional policy regarding liquor in a resident’s room. Facilities may also choose to sell or serve liquor to patients, residents, and their guests in its common areas.
Can I bring my own liquor into a licensed establishment?
You cannot bring your own liquor into a licensed establishment (a pub, restaurant, night club, stadium, etc.) There are exceptions such as food primary establishments that offers a “bring your own wine” option. (Note: Not all food primary establishments permit this, so be sure to confirm in advance if the establishment participates, and if they charge a corkage fee.)
Can I take home my unfinished bottle of wine from a bar or a restaurant?
Yes, provided one of the servers re-seals it before you leave. If you are leaving by car, you must ensure it is not readily accessible to anyone in the vehicle while driving. (Store it behind the seat or in the trunk, etc.)
Can I bring liquor into B.C. from another province?
British Columbians returning to B.C. from elsewhere in Canada can bring back up to nine litres of wine, three litres of spirits and a combined total of 25.6 litres of beer, cider and coolers per trip, as long as they are carrying it with them and it is for their own personal consumption.
Can a foreign consulate bring liquor into B.C.?
Yes. Foreign consulates can bring liquor into B.C. to serve at events hosted by the consul general at their consulate. They can also donate diplomatic or consular liquor to fundraising or charity events outside the consulate. After the event, the event organizers must return any unused product to the consulate. The charity or organization receiving the funds must obtain prior approval from the Director Finance Regulatory, Liquor Distribution Branch.
I’m not the licensee, but I need information on the licence – can you provide that to me?
There is certain information we are only able to release to the licensee, even if the person requesting it is the approved third party named on the licence. For a detailed list of the documents we can provide, please contact the LCLB FOI/Records Officer at 250 952-5784.
Do you need a licence to serve or sell liquor at a special event such as a wedding, sports tournament, or dinner and dance?
If you are planning to serve or sell liquor in a public place for an event such as a wedding, community dance or sporting event, you will need a special event permit. You can apply online at https://specialevents.bcldb.com. For more information about special event permits, please see the Special Event Permits page on our website.
Do I need a special event permit to serve liquor at an event in the common room of my condo or strata complex?
The common room is considered part of the residence. When the room is booked for a private social function by residents, no special event permit is required to serve liquor. For more information about special event permits, please see the Special Event Permits page on our website or visit https://specialevents.bcldb.com.
I’m moving to BC and want to bring my wine collection – how do I do that?
Canadians and landed immigrants who have been out of the country for at least one year, and persons who are entering on a work visa of at least one year in duration, may apply to move their personal liquor cellars into British Columbia at reduced provincial liquor charges. For more information please contact the Liquor Distribution Branch at email@example.com or 604-252-3344.
Are liquor delivery services legal and what are the rules?
Yes, although certain rules apply to prevent delivery to minors. For more information, please see Section 4 of the Miscellaneous Policy Manual on our website.
What are the new liquor privileges for hotel guests?
Guests at hotels with a liquor primary or food primary, as well as anyone who accompanies a guest to their room, can take unfinished alcoholic beverages from the bar or restaurant to their room to drink, as long as they take a direct route. If the guest’s room is in a separate building from the lobby, bar or restaurant but on the same property, patrons can take unfinished alcoholic beverages to their room as long as they take a direct route and don’t leave the hotel’s property. Guests can also drink unfinished alcoholic beverages while walking to their room. Licensees must not permit a patron to take unfinished alcoholic beverages to their room if the person is intoxicated.
Hotels with a liquor primary can also serve one standard free drink to guests in the lobby or reception area at check-in. Guests can consume the drink in the lobby or reception area or take it to their hotel room, as long as they take a direct route to the room.
Does a B&B need a liquor licence to sell or serve wine to their guests?
Yes, a B&B would require a liquor licence to sell or serve wine (or any type of liquor) to their guests.
Can I bring my empty bottles or cans back to the liquor store?
Yes, you can return empty bottles or cans to a liquor store where that product is sold and you will receive a deposit refund. The store may set a limit of 24 containers per person per day. The retailer does not have to accept a can or bottle if it is rusty, unidentifiable, or otherwise questionable. Please contact the Ministry of Environment for more information.
How can I obtain a permit for non-beverage alcohol or pure grain alcohol?
Please refer to the Ethyl Alcohol Purchase Permit page.
Can I sell liquor online?
Only if you have a Licensee Retail Store, Wine Store or Special Wine Store licence, or a Manufacturer on-site store endorsement. To be eligible for these licences, you must have a store front operation with a legal interest in the proposed physical site of the business. Please refer to the Miscellaneous Policy Manual for more information on unlicensed liquor sales.
Can an isolated sports lodge or recreation lodge provide liquor to its guests without a licence?
In certain circumstances, yes. Please refer to the Miscellaneous Policy Manual for more information.