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Liquor Services - 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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 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

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

​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. However, if a business licence is for one, or any combination, of the low fire-risk licence types, it can be issued if only the Fire approval is outstanding. Low fire-risk businesses will require to get 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)

To book your inspection, you must contact 311 with your Business Identification (BID) number request a Fire Inspection for Business Licence. It can take up to five business days for an inspector to visit the space, therefore you should call one week prior to being ready for business. 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 403-943-2296 for more information and to book a date. 

Inspection results can be submitted:

  • In person at the Planning Services Centre:
    3rd floor
    800 Macleod Trail S.E.
    Calgary, AB

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.

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.

How to apply


Online

Apply now

If you need help when completing your application Live Chat with us, 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday to Friday.

In person

Apply in person at the Planning Services Centre. To skip the line, book an appointment online.​

Additional information

Obtaining your business licence

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.

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

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 Service Alberta, Consumer Services at 1-780-427-4088 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.

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.

 
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