Share this page Print

Liquor Services - New Business Guide

Alcohol beverage manufacturer

A business manufacturing alcohol requires a municipal licence in addition to an Alberta Gaming & Liquor Commission (AGLC) licence. No additional licence is required to serve or sell alcohol produced on the same premises. If a business plans on serving alcohol produced elsewhere for consumption on site, then an alcohol beverage sales licence is required. If selling alcohol produced elsewhere for off-site consumption then a liquor store licence is required.

Businesses where the primary business activity is to manufacture liquor require an alcohol beverage manufacturer licence (e.g. breweries, distilleries and wineries)

Alcohol beverage sales

Businesses where the primary business activity is liquor sale and consumption on the same premises require an alcohol beverage sales licence. These businesses do not require an additional licence to sell alcohol made on the same premises. The intention of this business is for the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages on the same premises and may included the retail sale of alcohol manufactured on site (e.g. licensed restaurants, bars, brew-pubs, drinking establishments).

Liquor store

Businesses where the primary business activity is to sell alcohol for off-site consumption require a liquor store licence. Liquor stores are not permitted to sell and serve alcohol for on-site consumption. Tobacco products are not permitted to be sold from a liquor store.

Businesses that do not require a municipal licence for liquor sales but do require an Alberta Gaming & Liquor Commission (AGLC) licence:

  • Gift baskets that include one or two bottles of alcohol, as long as it is only being delivered with the gift basket and not sold separately. Gift basket manufacturers will require a manufacturer licence type.
  • Liquor/manufacturer agents and representatives.
  • Liquor delivery services.
  • Special events, either private (e.g. weddings) or public (e.g. festivals) with liquor sales do not normally require a municipal licence to sell liquor and will instead require a private resale special event licence from AGLC. An exception would be a licenced restaurant holding a special function that includes off-sales.
  • Hotels selling alcohol for consumption on site do not require a separate liquor store licence. If the hotel operates an off-sales room, a liquor store licence will be required.

If your business does not require a licence, you still require a Business ID and land use approval, visit businesses not requiring a municipal licence​ for more information.

Consider your required approvals

Once you apply for your business licence, outstanding approvals must be completed before the business licence is issued.

A business licence will often have multiple licence types associated with it. Below is a chart of all the related licence types that fall under this business activity. Hover over a licence type for a definition. If your business requires multiple licence types, approval processes are only generated once per licence. For example, only one fire inspection is required even if multiple licence types require that inspection.

Required approvals chart​

Land use approval

All businesses in Calgary require land use approval. Each space in a building has its own specified, approved use that cannot be changed without an approval, permit or both. Visit home based business or commercial based businesses for more information, or contact our Planning Services Centre to investigate land use approval for your business.

Calgary Police Services approval

This licence type requires recommendation by the Police Information Check Unit. You are required to provide your full name, address, birth date and proof of identification (government-issued photo identification and one other form of identification). You must show ID at the Planning Services Centre. This approval generally takes about two weeks to complete.

When a business licence requiring a police check is applied for, this approval is automatically initiated and is completed by the Calgary Police Service internally. A police check from the past or from another police agency cannot be used instead of the police check required when applying for a business licence.

Fire Prevention Bureau approval

Businesses that operate from commercial premises require an inspection from the Fire Prevention Bureau before the licence can be issued. You will need your Business Identification (BID) number when you call to book the inspection. You must contact the Fire Prevention Bureau five business days prior to your ready-to-open date to arrange for the inspection. The Fire Prevention Bureau will notify the Licence Division with the results of the inspection.

This inspection must be performed by the Fire Prevention Bureau inspectors. This approval cannot be completed with an inspection done by the firefighting division, such as the occupancy inspection completed on your building permit.

Contact 311 to book your inspection. See the Fire Department Business Licence Checklist to see what is required for your inspection.

Building Regulations, HVAC Inspection

Based on the business activity, you may require a ventilation inspection to ensure that it meets code requirements. This may require you to install a ventilation system. Please be aware that your business must not be operating until all approvals are in place, including heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC).

To book your HVAC inspection, call 403-268-2738, select option 2 and quote your business name or Business Identification (BID) number.

Provincial licensing approval

Certain business activities require provincial licensing. Contact Service Alberta at 1-780-427-4088 (or toll free in Alberta only at 1-877-427-4088) for details on obtaining provincial licensing, if you are a prepaid contractor or a direct Seller.

A prepaid contracting business:

  • Solicits, negotiates or concludes prepaid contracts in person at any place other than the sellers’ place of business, and
  • Accepts money before all the work is done and/or the services are provided

A direct seller:

  • Solicits, negotiates, or concludes sales contracts in person, at any place other than the seller’s place of business.

You can present your provincial licence in person at the Planning Services Centre, fax it to the Business Licence Division at 403-537-3034 or email it to licencedivisionteam@calgary.ca.

Fees

For business licence fees, see the Business Licence Fee Schedule. The business licence fee schedule is broken down by licence type. If your business requires multiple licence types, the highest category fee will be charged.

These fees do not include the costs related to required permits to meet land use approval, or any third-party approvals or inspections that may be required to obtain your licence.

Apply for your business

Visit How to apply to determine the ways in which you can make an application for your business.

Receive your business licence

Upon completion of all outstanding approvals, the business licence will be issued. It will be sent in the mail to the applicant or, if requested, can be held at our permit pick-up counter. For commercial businesses, the physical copy of your business licence should be posted in plain sight of the public.

If you are intending to make any changes to your business after you’ve received your licence, please visit changes to your business for more information.

How long is my licence good for?

Business licences expire one year from the issuance date. Forty-five days before the licence expires, a notice is mailed out advising the licensee of the expiry date. Any outstanding fines must be paid prior to renewal.

Additional in​formation

Business ownership changes

A business licence or business ID is not transferable from one person to another or from one person's business premises to another.

Multiple premises

A business operating from more than one location requires a separate business licence for each premises.

Licence type combinations

To ensure the proper approvals are generated for a business, multiple licence types may be attached to a single business licence. For example, a cabinet maker would require a manufacturer licence type; if the business is also installing the cabinets, a contractor licence type is required. Both licence types will appear on the same business licence document and only one renewal will be required.

Charitable organization

All charitable organizations must be associated with another licenced business activity. Approval must be granted by the province before applying for a municipal licence.

Businesses not eligible for a charity status:

  • Alcohol beverage sales
  • Tobacco retailer

All fundraising activity is governed by the charitable fundraising act. Charitable organizations that are only fundraising should contact Alberta Municipal Affairs, Housing and Consumer Affairs Division at 1-780-427-8044 or 1-877-427-4088.

All applicants for this licence type should first consult with the province about eligibility for this designation and register their business, prior to applying for a municipal business licence. Contact Service Alberta at 1-780-427-4088 (or toll free in Alberta only at 1-877-427-4088) for more information.

Rules and regulations

Ancillary Sales

Anytime alcohol is being served, snack items (e.g. chips, pretzels) must be provided to customers. Because of this, any business serving alcohol must also have a food service – premises category added to their licence. A business may sell non-liquor products, however, these products must be liquor-related products approved by the AGLC. Some examples include soft drinks, juice, water, non-food items used in the preparation of cocktails, ice, flasks, decanters, beverage containers, glassware and bottle openers. For more information, see the General Merchandise Liquor Store Handbook.

Land Use Bylaw

Liquor stores cannot be located within 300 metres of any other liquor stores, nor can they be located within 150 metres of a school.

Care facilities

Provincial government owned and operated facilities, where no private company is operating the facility under a management agreement, would not require a municipal licence. Provincially-owned facilities that are operated under a management agreement by a private company require a licence for alcohol beverage sales. Privately owned and operated businesses or societies require a licence for alcohol beverage sales, even if they are only selling and serving alcohol beverages to residents of a facility.

Additional licence requirements

All alcohol beverage manufacturer, alcohol beverage sales and liquor store licences require licensing from the AGLC.

A health inspection is not required for a liquor store unless ice is being packaged and sold on-site.

Disclaimer: This information has no legal status and cannot be used as an official interpretation of the various bylaws, codes and regulations currently in effect. The City of Calgary accepts no responsibility to persons relying solely on this information. Web pages are updated periodically.​​​​

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​