Liquor-serving establishments

If you want to have a business in the City of Vancouver that sells or serves alcoholic drinks, you must have a liquor licence.

The Province

The Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCLB) issues licences in BC for making and selling liquor and supervises the service of liquor in licensed establishments. The branch alone is responsible for deciding if you will receive a licence.

The City

The City of Vancouver also plays a significant role. The LCLB is required to consider specific community needs in deciding whether to issue or change a liquor licence. For some applications, such as new liquor primary establishments, this includes asking the city to provide a resolution that considers the following:

  • Establishment's location
  • Person-capacity of the proposed establishment
  • Operating hours requested
  • Views of local residents and businesses
  • Proximity to other social or recreational facilities
  • Number of other licensed establishments in the area
  • Potential traffic, noise, and parking problems
  • Population density and trends
  • Impact on the community if the application is approved

The following instructions apply to new applications, and permanent changes to existing Liquor Primary licences. 

Meet with a Licence Coordinator to discuss your application before you submit your application.

Application requirements

Include the following:

  • Your completed application: Consideration by City Council for a New Liquor Licence or Permanent Amendment to Existing Liquor Licence
  • A letter describing the rationale for your request, management experience, proposed theme or entertainment within the establishment, level and type of food service, hours of operation
  • The floor plan showing all tables and seating, as well as outdoor seating, smoking areas, and all floor area dimensions and calculations
  • Proof that you have a secured vested interest in the property
  • If you are proposing a new building or exterior alterations to an existing building, include front elevation rendering
  • The application processing fee (range from $858.00 base fee to a maximum $4,637.00)

Public consultation

We encourage you to liaise with area residents and business operators before submitting your formal application to let them know of a possible application to eliminate the public's surprise once the City conducts the official neighbourhood public consultation. The Chief Licence Inspector determines the level of public consultation. Processing fees are based on the degree of public consultation required for each application.

Stage 1: Site sign

The site sign must conform to size, shape, and lettering requirements. Specific wording and content for the sign is provided by the Licence Coordinator. All applications require a site sign unless indicated otherwise by the Licence Coordinator.

Size

Standard size is 4' × 8'. All variations must be approved by the License Coordinator.

Lettering

Lettering is to be black Helvetica on a white background.

Erection

Signs must be:

  • Placed on the ground, supported only by posts or poles
  • Erected in a sound, workmanlike manner, capable of withstanding wind and weather
  • Comply with the requirements of the Building Bylaw and Sign Bylaw

Location

Signs must be:

  • Clearly read from streets or lanes, and be clear of all site obstructions
  • Located within the site, approximately but not closer than 10'0" from any property line
  • No more than 16'0" high (sign top)

Site plan

The outline of the premises, as provided in the application, must be outlined in red, including:

  • A north arrow
  • Property and building dimensions
  • Adjoining properties (with the addresses)
  • Adjacent street names
  • The location of the sign, denoted on the plan with a reference to it stating: "You are here"

Notification of erection

You or your agent must advise the Chief License Inspector or License Coordinator when the sign has been erected on the site. 

The City's notification letter to surrounding residents and businesses (when required), advising them of your application will not be sent until written confirmation and a photograph of the sign on the site after it has been erected is received.

Removal of signs

Signs must remain in place until Council has given a decision on the application, and must be removed no later than 7 days after the decision.

Sample

Sample of the sign you must display when applying for a liquor licence

Download a larger version of sample image

Stage 2: Neighbourhood notification

The City will prepare and circulate a notification flyer to surrounding residents and businesses located within a minimum radius of approximately 150 metres, or about 1 and ½ blocks, of the existing or proposed establishment.

The Notice of Application encourages all recipients to provide comments within three weeks from the date of the notice. Notices are circulated only after the Licence Coordinator has received confirmation that the site sign is installed.

Stage 3: Public meeting

The City will schedule and advertise a public meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to:

  • Provide a forum to present a preliminary staff position on the proposal and an objective assessment of potential impacts of the proposal to area residents and business operators.
  • Give the applicant an opportunity to provide further clarification on the nature of the proposal.
  • Provide residents and local businesses an opportunity to voice their concerns and ask questions of both staff and applicant.

We will normally schedule the public meeting in the last week of the neighbourhood flyer notification period or shortly after. Attendance at the meeting will be recorded and each attendee will be asked to indicate their support or opposition to the proposal. Verbatim minutes of the meeting are not recorded.

Stage 4: Telephone survey

In cases where there appears to be considerable negative feedback or a clear split in support for and against the proposal within the neighbourhood, the City recommends a telephone survey.

The actual cost of the telephone survey, determined through a bid process, is in addition to the processing fee and is estimated at approximately $5,000. The telephone survey cost must be paid to the City by the applicant. The City then reimburses the firm chosen to conduct the survey.

A bid request to conduct the telephone survey is submitted to approve pre-qualified vendors by the City Purchasing Department. The lowest bidder is awarded the contract. The City specifies the following:

  • Area from which the sample is to be taken
  • Required number of completed calls
  • Required level of sample accuracy
  • Times during which phone calls can be made
  • Languages in which the interviews will be conducted
  • Script and questions and all other information that may be required.

Council reports

The Chief Licence Inspector will prepare a report to Council which will include comments from the following departments: Police, Fire Prevention, Development Services and Social Development (including Central Area Planning, Heritage Planning and Cultural Planning when applicable). The Chief Licence Inspector will recommend to endorse or not endorse, or put forward for consideration to Council a report including the following information:
  • The results of all public consultation(s) and a summary of public concerns and/or support
  • An analysis of your application with respect to existing Council policy, LCLB policy, your history/background, and all issues concerning the proposed location. We will also provide, when applicable, an objective pros and cons analysis of your application

All respondents providing their full name and address as part of the public consultation will be notified before the report is presented to Council. The Council report will be presented at the first available meeting of the Standing Committee of Council on Planning and Environment, subject to the City Clerk's Office report deadlines.

The Council decision is forwarded by the City Clerk's Office to the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch. A motion to defer a decision pending results of further public consultation will progress the application to the next step in the Public Consultation Process.

Application Process

Step 1: Application review and report preparation (Base fee: $858.00)

We will review the specifics of your proposal and determine the required level of public consultation. Your application will be circulated to relevant staff departments for comments. A Council report will typically be prepared at the end of this processing step for the following applications: Motor Vessels not requesting dockside service; very minor amendments to an existing Liquor Primary liquor licence and Motor Vessels requesting dockside service in areas where there are little or no residential uses in close proximity.

Step 2: Neighbourhood flyer notification (Fee increment: $1,031.00)

The total application fee for applications required to conduct Neighbourhood Notification is $1,889.00. All applications, except those noted in Step 1 above, will require neighbourhood notification.

At the end of this step in the process, a Council report will typically be prepared for the following Liquor Primary liquor licence applications: small hotel lounges; amendments to existing licences and some types of new establishments in areas of the City where there are little or no residential uses in close proximity.

Step 3: Public meeting (Fee increment: $1,775.00)

The total application fee for applications required to conduct a Public Meeting is $3,664.00. A public meeting will normally be recommended for all new Liquor Primary liquor licence applications or major amendments to existing liquor licences in close proximity to residential uses and/or which may have a negative impact on adjacent businesses. New Restaurant Class-2 businesses in close proximity to residential uses may also require a public meeting.

At the end of this step, a final decision would be reached by Council on nearly all applications. Applications for establishments in designated entertainment areas, industrial areas, the core area of the Central Business District (CBD), areas with little adjacent residential development, or for a conversion of an existing liquor licence to a licence that will have a lesser impact (e.g., reduced hours; elimination of outdoor seating, etc.) would not normally be subject to the telephone survey requirement.

Step 4: Telephone survey (Fee increment: $973.00)

If your application requires a telephone survey, you must pay an additional $973.00 for an application processing fee. Therefore, the total application processing fee will be $4,637.00. We expect that most applications required to conduct a telephone survey will be as a result of a Council decision. We will revise the report to Council to incorporate findings of the telephone survey.

 All application processing for liquor licence categories not specifically noted here would be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Typical processing time for most applications is approximately three months, but may vary depending upon the nature of the application.

Applications not complying with Council policy or LCLB policy will delay processing and may not be brought to Council until the policy issues have been resolved.

Temporary Liquor Licence Amendment Requests

Submit an amendment request when you want to temporarily extend:

  • Opening hours
  • Closing hours
  • Area (for example, patios)

Requests to temporarily amend a liquor licence must be submitted within a minimum of 5 weeks in advance of the first requested amendment date.

Parameters for consideration

Closing hour extensions

  • Vancouver International Jazz Festival
  • Vancouver Pride Festival
  • Night preceding a statutory holiday
  • Twelve other “one-off” dates (for example, grand openings, establishment anniversaries, charity fundraisers, unique or rare live performances, significant dates or other similar functions) may be considered within the calendar year subject to no more than two requests per month.

Opening hour extensions

  • No limit on the number of days requested
  • No requests to open earlier than 9:00am

Area extensions

  • Size of the area extensions are assessed on a case by case basis
  • A limited number of extensions for existing approved patios will be considered for a maximum of 4 separate days in a calendar year
  • Extension requests for 5 or more days in a calendar year, requests for outdoor seating from establishments that do not currently have an approved patio space or requests that would reduce or eliminate off-street parking and/or loading spaces for the site must first obtain a development permit approval from the Director of Planning.

Guidelines

Applicable to all temporary requests to amend any liquor licence:
  • Your application will not be supported if there are any violations documented in the 4 months prior to the application submission date (previous 12 months will be reviewed);
  • Your application will not be supported if inspection staff have verified area resident or business complaints regarding the operation of the establishment for the 4 months prior to the application submission date (consideration for approval may be given if the business has taken extraordinary measures to resolve the issue of the complaint);
  • Favourable consideration will only be given to hours of operation extensions that are within the parameters of Table 1 "Council Approved Special Event Hours of Liquor Service by Area"

    Table 1 "Council Approved Special Event Hours of Liquor Service by Area"
    Area Special event hours
    Downtown -
    Primarily Commercial
    9:00am to 4:00am, 7 days a week
    Downtown -
    Primarily Mixed-use
    9:00am to 3:00am, Sunday to Thursday;
    9:00am to 4:00am, Friday and Saturday
    Downtown -
    Primarily Residential
    9:00am to 2:00am, Sunday to Thursday;
    9:00am to 3:00am, Friday and Saturday
    Non-Downtown -
    Primarily Commercial/Industrial
    9:00am to 3:00am, 7 days a week
    Non-Downtown -
    Primarily Mixed-use
    9:00am to 2:00am, Sunday to Thursday;
    9:00am to 3:00am, Friday and Saturday
    Non-Downtown -
    Primarily Residential
    9:00am to 1:00am, Sunday to Thursday;
    9:00am to 2:00am, Friday and Saturday
    Downtown Eastside (DEOD) 9:00am to 2:00am, Friday and Saturday only
  • Area extensions:
    • Area extensions to existing patios may be considered for one day, up to a maximum of 4 times per calendar year, without requiring development permit approval from the Director of Planning. Extension requests that would reduce or eliminate required off-street parking or loading spaces will require development permit approval from the Director of Planning
    • Area extensions to exterior areas that are not associated with an existing approved patio must first obtain development permit approval from the Director of Planning
    • Area extensions to seating areas in arenas, theatres or other similar venues holding a Liquor Primary liquor licence can be considered for an unlimited number of times per year as long as an Occupant Load for liquor service in the seating area has been obtained from the Vancouver Fire Prevention Office
  • Letter of support/permit approval limitations:
    • Opening hour and area extensions can be issued for up to 6 month intervals and
    • Closing hour extensions shall be limited to 2 calendar months and a maximum of 21 extensions per permit or approval

Applying for a temporary amendment

If you would like to make temporary amendments to your existing liquor licence, you will need to complete and submit the following:

Fees

Amendment requested Fee
Change of capacity $84.00
Change of hours Earlier opening hours: $84.00 per liquor licence
Later closing hours: $0.39/seat per night
Extension to licensed area $84.00
Miscellaneous changes $84.00

Supporting documents

  • Complete and signed City of Vancouver Temporary Liquor Licence Amendment form
  • Complete and signed LCLB Temporary Change to Liquor Licence form Note: Include all pages of the form. Those sections of the provincial form that are not applicable should be crossed out as “N/A” and initialed. Applications with missing pages will be returned as incomplete.
  • Copy of your valid Provincial liquor licence
  • Copy of the LCLB red-lined floor plan for the liquor licence (area extension requests only)
  • Floor plan (fully dimensioned) of requested area extension (area extension requests only)
  • Site plan (fully dimensioned) showing the relation of the existing licensed area to the area extension request (area extension requests only)
  • Payment of the application processing fees
  • Cover letter indicating preferred contact name, business email address, telephone and fax number

Review process

  1. Submit a complete application (as indicated by the checklist above) a minimum of 5 weeks in advance of the first requested amendment date. (The LCLB requires a minimum of 14 business days and the City of Vancouver requires a minimum of 10 business days processing time to review the application). Note: Applications submitted less than 5 weeks in advance or incomplete applications will not be supported and will be subject to a $82.00 minimum processing fee.
  2. Process payment of the application fee.
  3. Application circulated to relevant departments for comments and clearance. Note: Vancouver Police Department and Vancouver Coastal Health Authority comments and/or clearances will be required for most applications. Additional departmental comments may be required (such as, Fire Prevention or Engineering – Street Administration) based on the nature of the request.
  4. We will complete the application review and make appropriate comments within 14 calendar days of the application.
  5. We will contact you to return the paperwork required for you to complete the LCLB temporary change application process.

The following instructions apply to applications to permanently change hours of liquor service at Food Primary establishments, or restaurants. 

Regulations

Hours of liquor service

A bylaw amendment passed by Council on November 19, 2009 establishes the hours of liquor service in restaurants as:

  • 1:00am closing time Sunday to Thursday
  • 2:00am closing time Friday and Saturday

A half-hour tolerance period, after which drinks must be removed from tables, applies.

To operate under later hours, you must send an application to the City of Vancouver, and the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCLB).

 Brand new licences / operators are restricted to hours of liquor service to midnight for a period of up to 6 months at the discretion of the Chief Licence Inspector.

Operating Regulations

Restaurants must:

  • Offer the full restaurant menu to customers during all hours of allowable liquor service
  • Have financial records, and a ratio of receipts from food sales to liquor sales, that are consistent with restaurant use
  • Keep financial records and receipts for at least one year, and show them to the Inspector upon request       
  • Keep sales receipts for all sales of food and liquor for at least one year, and show them to the Inspector upon request

Consolidated Business Licence Classifications

Licensed restaurants need only one of the following:

  • Restaurant Class 1 with Liquor business licence
  • Restaurant Class 2 with Liquor business licence (if patron participation entertainment such as dancing or karaoke offered)

Applying for an amendment

What the City needs

If you would like to amend the liquor service hours of your restaurant, you will need to complete and submit the following:

  • City of Vancouver application form  (109 KB)
  • Provincial application form  (1 MB)
  • Application processing fee ($84.00)
  • Two photographs of a site sign, notifying the public of the application, one close up and clearly indicating all the wording, and the second displaying the sign’s location on the site. The sign:
    • Must be posted in the window of the licensed establishment for 14 days
    • Must conform to size, shape and lettering indicated on the Sign Information form  (13 KB)
    • Can be submitted by email, mail, or in person

The Licence Office will review public comments received, sign Part 16 of the LCLB permanent change application form, and provide comments to the General Manager of LCLB regarding your application.

The City may not support your application if there are any violations documented, and we have verified complaints regarding the operation of the establishment. Consideration for approval may be given if the business has taken extraordinary measures to resolve the issues of the complaint.

We will contact you when your LCLB application form has been signed and is ready to be picked up.

What the LCLB needs 

You must submit the form to the LCLB to complete the permanent change application process. Third-party operators cannot complete and sign this form.

The LCLB processes applications per current policy, and approves or refuses applications as required. Their decision will be forwarded to you and the City of Vancouver.

Business licence fees

Fees for a Restaurant Class 1 or 2 with Liquor service are:

Licence type  Base fee  Seat fee 
New  $752.00 (includes $52.00 new application fee)  $8.90/seat 
Renewal  $700.00  $8.90/seat 

Ask. Tell. Connect.

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604-873-7000

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More ways to contact us

Contact the Licence Coordinator

Licence Coordinator

Phone: 604-871-6461

Assistant to the
Licence Coordinator

Phone: 604-873-7954

Email

Liquor licence fees

Licence Bylaw 4450

See Schedules A and B for liquor licence fees.

New business licence applications pay a one-time additional fee of $51.00.

All licences expire annually on 31 December each year. Fees are pro-rated based on the business start date.

Last modified: Tue, 26 Jun 2012 12:46:55