Government of B.C.

Eligibility

Who needs a Special Event Permit?

A Special Event Permit (SEP) is for any individual, organization or business that sells or serves liquor in any location that is not a

  • Private residence
  • Private place
  • Licensed establishment

Selling liquor includes direct and indirect charges for the liquor

  • For example, including a serving of liquor in the price of an event's admission

There are many occasions when a SEP is needed, including

  • A manufacturer’s tasting event
  • A social, cultural, recreational, religious, sporting or community event
  • A beer or wine judging competition
  • A mass invitation, customer appreciation event

A special event may be held in a licensed establishment, but the establishment is required to temporarily suspend their liquor licence in order to be eligible for a Special Event Permit.

Visit the Special event permittee resources and information page to learn more about event types and if your event requires a SEP.

Overview

You can apply for up to 3 events per month or 24 per year without an exemption from the LCRB.

You should submit your application well in advance of your event. Approval times can vary depending on the size and complexity of the event.

Events that do not require police or LCRB review are approved instantly.

Local government approval

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

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

Exemptions

If your event has requirements that are outside of the LCRB's regular policies, you may need to provide additional information or rationale to explain your need for an exemption.

An exemption may allow you to do one of the following:

  • Hold more than 3 SEPs per month or 24 per year
  • Extend the hours of your event beyond 10 pm for outdoor events or 2 am for indoor events
  • Charge more for drinks
  • Profit from events of municipal, provincial, national or international significance

Learn more about exemptions on the Special event permittee resources and information page.


Police and liquor inspectors

Local police will review applications for events with 500 or more attendees or with liquor service outside of standard liquor service hours before the LCRB can issue a permit.

The police may suggest to the LCRB that additional terms and conditions be placed on a permit should they identify potential public safety concerns; additional terms and conditions are subject to LCRB approval.

An additional fee may be required where an inspector has worked with event organizers or if additional inspection services are needed during an event. If your event requires a liquor inspector to attend, inspector services fees will be billed after the event.


Liquor quantities

You must report maximum liquor quantities and drink prices if you are selling drinks at your event. You may report total liquor amounts for an event held at multiple locations. You must report liquor quantities before your event.

Maximum suggested drink servings for your event are calculated on your application. 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.

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:

# OF GUESTS x # OF LIQUOR SERVICE HOURS = TOTAL DRINK


Fees

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

Responsible beverage service programs

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

Anyone that holds a valid SIR certification doesn’t need to take the SES program.


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: 

Apply

1

Check with your local authority

Check with the property or facility where your event will be held before applying for a SEP to make sure liquor service is approved for your event space or if other local conditions apply.

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.

Read more about local approvals on the Special event permittee resources and information page.

2

Access the SEP application page

BC Services Card

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

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 page if you are

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

Learn which BCeID is right for you below.

Show 2 items
3

Apply for a Special Event Permit

Complete the online application and pay fees by logging in to the Special Event Permit application page.

If you need help with an online application, call

Apply

4

Download permit and review responsibilities

Once your permit is approved, you can download it in the liquor and cannabis licensing 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.

5

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. 

6

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. 

Show 1 item

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.

More information on PST Bulletin 300 and liquor sales is available 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

Contact the LCRB's SEP support team

Toll Free:

Victoria Office: