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How to apply for a convenience store licence to sell beer, wine, cider and RTD cocktails

Highlights from the Alcohol & Gaming Commission of Ontario guidelines.
Funny redhead bearded male looking through two craft beer bottle like through binoculars.  F

Fast facts


Applications open: June 17

Annual fee: $500

Licence: Allows you to sell beer, wine (including cider), and ready-to-drink alcohol products in a retail store that meets certain eligibility requirements and has 4,000 sq. ft. or less of retail floor space. 

Size: Any store with 4,000 sq. ft. or less of retail floor space should apply for a Convenience Store Licence. This could include a small grocery store with less than 4,000 sq. ft. of retail floor space.

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How to calculate floor space

Category requirements: At least half of your retail floor space is used for food products (excluding prepared food products that may be consumed on site). You sell a variety of at least five of the following types of food products: canned foods, frozen foods, dry goods, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, meat or meat alternatives, dairy or dairy alternatives, non-alcoholic beverages, baked goods and snack foods.

Renewals: The AGCO will remind you (via email or mail) 60 days before your licence expires. You must apply to renew your licence and submit the right fee before this expiry date via the iAGCO portal. Expired licences cannot be renewed!

How long does it take to get a licence?  If you hold another, active AGCO licence or registration (e.g.  lottery) you will likely get your retail licence issued within a matter of days. Others can expect the AGCO’s eligibility review to take three to six weeks.​

Checking the status of your application: You can check the status of your application from your iAGCO account main page. 

Receiving a licence: The AGCO will notify you as soon as your application is processed (whether it is approved or not). If your application is approved, you’ll get an e-mail with a copy of your licence attached. 

When to sell: Even if you have a licence and everything in place, no earlier than September 5th. 

Background Blurred Defocused Beers are cooling in fridge, freezer or refrigerator shelf. C-Store or Grocery Background concept image.

Next steps

Buying alcohol: You are only allowed to sell alcohol products in your store that have been purchased through your business account with the LCBO. Retailers will need to work with the LCBO to arrange for the purchase of products linked to your licence. When the AGCO issues a new licence, they notify the LCBO and share your contact information with them. 

Partnering with the LCBO: The LCBO is to reach out to retailers to guide you through the process of ordering products. More info on LCBO’s website. Note, you will need time to get access to their sales portal (about two days), then order and receive your products (which can take about six to eight weeks). 

Support local: A percentage of the products you display for sale need to be produced by small breweries, small cideries, small distilleries or small wineries. Know before you order. 

Training staff: Only people who are 18 years or older are allowed to handle alcohol products. Any staff involved in the sale, sampling, delivery or taking orders for the sale of alcohol must have a valid certification demonstrating completion of an AGCO Board approved training program. At the moment, Smart Serve is the only AGCO Board approved sales and service training program in the province of Ontario, however the AGCO has launched an open call for liquor retail training programs. Any new AGCO Board approved training programs will be announced as they become available.

Safety first: The legal drinking age in the province of Ontario is 19 years of age and by law, you are required to check a person’s ID if they appear to be under 19 years of age. Also, you may not sell alcohol to a person who is, or appears to be, intoxicated. Selling alcohol to a minor or an intoxicated person could result in a penalty of up to $20,000 or the suspension or revocation of your licence.  

Selling hours: C-stores may sell alcohol between 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m., seven days a week (even if your store is open 24/7). Selling outside approved hours could result in a penalty up to $15,000 or the suspension or revocation of your licence.

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