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Liquor Services - business guide

Before You Apply


What is an alcohol beverage manufacturer?

Examples of liquor services businesses

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).

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.

MyID business account

If you have a myID business account, you can get a digital copy of your business licence through email.

To learn more and to sign-up, visit myID business account

New - brewery, winery, distillery use

Amendments include:

  • allowable public area of 10 square metres for entertainment
  • increase to the maximum allowable public area from 75 square metres to 150 square metres
  • permitting the sale of collaboration beverages

A collaboration beverage is made when two producers collaborate to create a new beverage. In this situation, the beverage may not necessarily be produced on-site.

As part of The City’s efforts to accelerate the business license approvals process, customers with a myID business account can receive a digital copy of their business licence via email. This is available to customers applying for a new business licence or renewing an existing licence. To learn more about the benefits of a myID business account and to sign-up today, please visit myID business account (calgary.ca).

Do you need a licence?

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.

How much will it cost?


When setting up a new licence, applicable fees apply. 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. Fees are subject to change the next calendar year. 

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.

Business licence Fee schedule ​New licence ​Fire Planning* Total
Liquor

Business licence fee schedule

​$172 $107 $41 $320

How long will it take?


A business license will be issued when  all outstanding approvals are complete. If you wish to inquire about the status of your licence, please contact the Planning Call Centre at 403-268-5311. 

The authorized business licence will be sent to the applicant in the mail, or if requested, can be held at our permit pick-up counter. When a commercial business is operational, the physical copy of your business licence must be posted in a highly visible location where the public can easily see it.

What are the rules?


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. 

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.

Distilleries

The distillation process to produce alcohol has specific requirements for construction and building occupancy. To avoid application delays or location conflicts, please contact the planning services center before finalizing a location.

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.

How to prepare your application


Once you know how and where your business will operate, you’re ready to apply.

For a smooth application, make sure you know the following information:

  • Business Activities
  • Location of Business
  • Fee payment at the time of application*
  • Ownership
  • Name of Business
  • Contact information for the business and owner
  • If you are applying online, a myID account
  • Two pieces of government issued identification

Apply


Tips for a smooth application process

Before you apply

Download the checklist and check each application requirement as you prepare to submit your application. Items listed on the checklist are the minimum requirements. We might need more information after we review your application.

Provide all required documents on the checklist, including drawings, supporting material, and any additional forms. If you are not sure if something is required, contact the Planning Services Centre

Use sample drawings to review what you need to include on your plans

Double check your documents are completed and make sure you have all required items on your plans before you upload them

After you apply

The Planning Services Centre may contact you for more information required for your application. Follow-up on requests for more information as quickly as possible. 

Use the Job Access Code (JAC) to check status updates for your application on calgary.ca/vista

  • You’ll get a JAC by e-mail after you’ve submitted your application. If you did not receive a JAC number, contact the Planning Services Centre.
  • Checking your application’s status using your JAC will provide you with timely updates about the status of your application

What is a complete application?

A complete application means that you have provided all the necessary requirements for our teams to complete their reviews. You should provide everything listed on the Complete Application Requirement List and the Guide to a Complete Application (if applicable), including plans, supporting documents and payment.

An application for a permit may be refused  if, within ninety (90) days from the date of receipt,  if adequate information and documentation is not supplied as requested by the Safety Codes Officer. Should a permit be considered for refusal, the applicant will be given notification in writing and 30 days to resubmit the missing information. For more information, please review Building advisory A19-002 building permit complete application.

Apply online

To apply online, you need a myID account. Create a myID account.

We’re currently experiencing higher than seasonal application volumes, we apologize for delays. To check the status of your permit, go to vista.calgary.ca and enter in your Job Access Code (JAC) number

Apply in-person

Complete the application form.

Once you have gathered all required documents, you can apply for your permit in person by visiting the Planning Services Centre.

After you apply


How to check the status of your licence

After you submit your application online, you will get a confirmation email with a Job Access Code (JAC).

To track your application and check its status, enter your Job Access Code in Vista.

If you need help or have questions, contact our Planning Services Centre

What inspections do you need?


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. 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.

Licence Type Land use Police Fire Health Provincial AMVIC ID card
Alcohol Beverage Manufacturer Required Not required Required Required Not required Not required Not required
Alcohol Beverage Sales Required Not required Required Required Not required Not required Not required
Food Service - Premises Required Not required Required Required Not required Not required Not required
Liquor Store Required Not required Required Not required Not required Not required Not required
Entertainment Establishment Required Not required Required Not required Not required Not required Not required
Outdoor Patio Required Not required Not required Not required Not required Not required Not required

How do you book inspections?

​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.

To view the allowable uses within a land use district, refer to the Land Use Bylaw. To determine the land use district of a property, visit myProperty.

You can also refer to Commercial, industrial and mulit-residential for more information, or contact our Planning Services Centre at 403-268-5311 to investigate land use approval for your business.​​

Fire Prevention Bureau approval

Most businesses that operate from commercial premises require an inspection from the Fire Prevention Bureau before the licence can be issued. 

If a business licence is for a low fire-risk licence type, it can be issued if only the Fire approval is outstanding. Low fire-risk businesses need to have the fire inspection within 30 days of their licence being issued.

Before you book your inspection, you must be ready for business, which means:

  • Applicants must be in possession of the space/site
  • The business is ready to serve customers (e.g. shelves are stocked and fixtures are in place)
Business Licence Approval Type Timeline
Fire inspection 5 business days

To book your inspection contact 311 with your Business Identification (BID) number to request a Fire Inspection for Business Licence (call 403-268-2489 outside of Calgary) .

It can take up to 5 business days for an inspector to visit the space.

See the Fire Department Business Licence Checklist to see what is required for your 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 is in addition to any inspection done by the firefighting division, such as the occupancy inspection completed on your building permit.​​​​​

Alberta Health Services Approval (AHS)

An Alberta Health Services (AHS) location inspection is required to ensure public safety. Any business involving the sale, preparation, manufacturing or storage of food products requires this inspection. Any business involved in personal service such as aesthetics or massage is also required to have this inspection. Contact AHS at 1-833-476-4743 for more information and to book a date. 

Inspection results can be submitted:

If AHS advised you that your business type does not require a health inspection, please record the name of the individual you spoke with, their telephone number, and the reason provided.  Please provide these details to The City’s Planning Services Centre.

Please be aware of all current provincial public health restrictions for in-person dining.

Business Licence approval type Timeline
Alberta Health Services Contact AHS at 403-943-2288 for timelines

What to do if you need to make changes?

If you intend to make any changes to your business after receiving your licence, please visit Manage your business for more information.

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

How to extend your permit

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.


Planning Services Centre

Hours:
Monday - Friday
8 a.m. - 4:15 p.m. (MT)

Live chat:
calgary.ca/livechat

Call:
403-268-5311

In person: 
Planning Services Centre,
3rd floor, Municipal building 
800 Macleod Trail SE

Book an eAppointment for in person services at appointment.calgary.ca

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