Government of B.C.

Eligibility

Who needs a Special Event Permit?

A Special Event Permit (SEP) is required for an event organizer or host (i.e., individual, organization or business) to sell or serve liquor in a location that is not a

  • Private residence
  • Private place
  • Licensed establishment
    • A special event may be held in a licensed establishment, but the establishment must temporarily suspend their liquor licence to do so

The host or organizer of the event must apply for a SEP. A permit cannot be issued to a person or business (i.e., liquor service provider) that is not the organizer of the event.

Selling liquor includes direct and indirect charges for liquor

  • For example, including a drink in the price of event admission 

What types of events require a liquor permit? 

A SEP is commonly issued for a: 

  • Manufacturer tasting
  • Wedding
  • Beer or wine judging competition
  • Private function and family gathering
  • Social, cultural, recreational, religious, sporting or community event
  • Mass invitation, customer appreciation event

Visit Special event permittee resources and information to learn whether your event requires a SEP.

Fees

  • Public special events, $100.00 per day/location
  • Private special events $25.00 per day/location
    • Includes family SEP

An additional fee may be required where a liquor inspector has worked with event organizers or if your event requires a liquor inspector to attend. Inspector service fees will be billed after the event.

Responsible beverage service 

A special event permittee must not consume liquor at the event. 

At SEP events, patrons must not bring their own liquor. "Bring Your Own Booze" and self-service of liquor by patrons is not allowed. All liquor must be purchased using the permit from an authorized source and served by certified servers. 

All individuals hosting or serving liquor at a SEP event – including family events - are required to complete a Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) training program.

Anyone that holds a valid SIR certification does not need to take the SES program.

You can still apply for a SEP if you don’t have your certificate yet. However, you cannot host your event until you complete the course and pass the exam.

Terms and conditions

You must follow B.C.’s liquor laws and the SEP terms and conditions at all times (specific terms and conditions may be printed on your permit). Make sure to review the: 

Overview

Approval timelines

Events that do not require police or LCRB review are approved automatically. Approval times can vary depending on the size and complexity of the event.

Submitting your SEP application 30 days in advance is strongly recommended. If the SEP requires an exemption your application should be submitted no later than 14 days prior to your event start date. 

Police approvals

Local police will review event applications in the portal with:

  • 500 or more attendees
  • Liquor service outside of standard liquor service hours 

The police may recommend additional terms and conditions for the permit should they identify potential public safety concerns, subject to LCRB approval.

Apply

1

Check with your local authority

Before applying for a SEP, check with the event facility or property to confirm that liquor service is permitted for the venue or if other local rules apply. Common examples include events at municipal parks, recreation centres and civic plazas.

The LCRB may request confirmation that the local authority approves during the application or after your SEP has been issued. If you do not provide confirmation, your permit may be refused or cancelled.

The LCRB will work with you and 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.

Events on public property

You must have written permission from the local government authority if you plan to provide liquor service at an event on land or premises owned by a

  • Municipal government
  • First Nation
  • Other provincial or federal government

Written permission from the local authority needs to be kept on-site at the event to ensure it is available for inspection. Read more about local approvals on the Special event permittee resources and information page.

2

Access the SEP application portal

BC Services Card

B.C. residents who are eligible for a BC Services Card must use one to log into the Special Event Permit application portal. 

Visit BC Services Card to learn:

  • About eligibility
  • How to get a card
  • How to log in with a card

If you have a BC Services Card mobile app on your mobile device, you are no longer required to visit a physical Service BC office to verify your identity. You have the option to have your identity verified by video call using an iPhone, iPad or Android device. You can find instructions on the BC Services Card website.  

Applicants with a BC Services Card and a mobile device can find instructions to set up their mobile BC Services Card at How to Set Up a Mobile Card.

BCeID

You must have a BCeID to log in to the Special Event Permit application portal if you are

  • Not a B.C. resident
  • A business
  • Police

For help setting up your BCeID or BC Services Card to log into the SEP application portal, please contact the BCeID Help Desk. LCRB staff cannot assist with setting up a BCeID.  

Learn which BCeID is right for you below.

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3

Apply for a Special Event Permit

Complete the online application and fee payment by logging in to the Special Event Permit (SEP) application portal. 

Please see below for technical support with the portal. 

Apply online  

 

4

Technical support

  • Please use the same internet browser throughout the application process. If you log into the SEP application portal in a different browser, the application data may not be there. 
  • Please do not clear your internet browser cache during the application process to retain your application data. 
  • If the Special Event Permit (SEP) portal does not accept a Serving It Right or Special Event Server certificate number, you can leave the field blank and select no certificate. Ensure to have your certificate number and expiry date available on the day of the event for inspection by a liquor inspector or police.
  • If you receive an email notification with a broken payment link, simply log into the SEP application portal to complete payment. 
  • If the portal does not update the status of a SEP application after payment, please DO NOT re-apply or pay again. Please email LCRBLiquor@gov.bc.ca, and licensing staff can confirm that payment was received and can manually change the application status. 

5

Download permit and review responsibilities

Once your permit is approved, you can download it in the SEP application portal.

You must follow B.C. liquor laws and the terms and conditions of your SEP at all times. Be sure to review

Before your event date, contact local authorities for additional rules that may apply to your event.

6

Purchase liquor

Once your SEP application is approved, you can buy liquor for your event.

All liquor sold and served at a SEP event must be purchased from one of the following:

  • BC Liquor Stores
  • B.C. winery, brewery, or distillery with an on-site store
  • Licensee Retail Store
  • Wine Store
  • Special Wine Store
  • Rural Licensee Retail Store

UBrew and UVin products can be served (but not sold) at an event licensed under a family or hobbyist competition SEP.

You cannot permit guests to bring their own liquor to your event.

Learn more.

7

Gather documents for the day of your event

You must keep the following documents on-site at your event:

  • Special event permit
  • Site plan
  • Signage
  • Serving It Right or Special Event Server certificate information
  • Incident log
  • Price list
  • A security plan may also be required

On your event day, you should print, sign, and post your SEP in the designated liquor service area. You must also display, as applicable

  • Any terms and conditions set by the reviewing parties
  • Documents from police/local government/First Nation
  • Letters from the LCRB granting exemptions or documents imposing additional terms and conditions
  • Written designation of an individual who can attend the event on behalf of the permittee and who has valid responsible beverage service certification

Refer to the terms and conditions for more information on each document.

Learn more about site plans and security plans below. 

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After your event

After your event:

  • Collect and keep event documents for your records. You must keep your records for 2 years after your special event.
  • 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.

Read the SEP PST page and find more information on liquor sales on the BC Ministry of Finance website or by telephone at 1-877-388-4440.

Unused and un-opened liquor products

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 Liquor Distribution Branch’s Product Return Policy and restocking fee.

Documents for charitable fundraisers

You have up to 60 days after your event 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:

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/employment-business-and-economic-development/business-management/liquor-regulation-licensing/forms/lcrb032_charity_fund-raising_event_revenue_report.pdf

Proof of proceeds can include: a letter, cancelled cheque or newspaper article.

Read more about charitable fundraisers on the Special event permittee resources and information page.

Contact

The answer to your question can likely be found on the Special event permittee resources page. If you can't find the answer online, contact the LCRB's SEP support team.

Toll Free:

Victoria Office: