Non-Emergency 604-525-5411

Emergency 9-1-1

Special Event Liquor License

Special Occasion Liquor License

Public and private events (e.g. weddings, tastings, community events)

Members of the public wanting to serve liquor in a public place or sell liquor anywhere, will need either a private or public Special Occasion License.

  • Individuals are only eligible to apply for a private Special Occasion Licenses for family-related events such as weddings or family reunions.
  • Non-profit organizations may apply for either a private or public Special Occasion License for an event they are hosting.
  • Businesses or event planners are generally not eligible to apply for a Special Occasion License.

Private special event

A private special occasion is an event that is limited to attendance by:

  • family or friends,
  • an organization’s members or staff, or
  • invited guests or ticket holders (tickets must be sold or given away prior to event).

The occasion may be:

  • social (such as a staff party, birthday or anniversary),
  • religious (such as a wedding, christening, bar mitzvah or other religious occasion), cultural, recreational, sports or community orientated, or
  • promotional, to acquaint people with the product of a licensed winery, brewery or distillery.

Pre-wedding parties, such as stags or bachelorettes do not qualify for a private or public special occasion license and must be held in a licensed establishment or a residence.

Public special event

A public special occasion is open to anyone who wishes to participate or buy a ticket, either at the door or in advance of the event.

The occasion may be:

  • community or public event (such as a community festival or outdoor concert)
  • a tasting event so a liquor manufacturer can showcase their product, or
  • any event that contributes to the cultural or social life of the community.

Application Process

The NWPD can only grant liquor licenses for public or private events occurring in the City of New Westminster.

The host of the special event (either an individual or a designated representative from a club or other group) must apply for the Special Occasion License. Caterers, paid or unpaid managers or event coordinators cannot apply on the host’s behalf.

An applicant for a Special Occasion License must be at least 19 years old and either:

  • resident of BC,
  • a Canadian Citizen or lawfully admitted to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada) for permanent residence, or
  • for any other person, have received approval to apply for a Special Occasion License by completing an Application for Special Occasion License Policy Exemption form at a BC Government Liquor Store.

Applicants for a Special Occasion Liquor License private or public function must first attend a BC Government Liquor Store and complete an application. This application must be completed in consultation with BC Government Liquor Store staff, and include such information as quantities of and pricing of alcohol being served.

Once completed, approved and stamped by BC Government Liquor Store staff, the application can then be brought to the NWPD front counter. A member of the Community Services Section shall review all Special Occasion Liquor License applications for final approval. Once the license has been approved, the applicant will be contacted to so they can pick up the license. Please note, the NWPD requires at least Five (5) business days to review and approve all applications.

Rules for Special Occasion License

Special Occasion Liquor License holders are subject to the same enforcement penalties for liquor infractions as commercial bar owners. Special Occasion Liquor License holders are liable for any contraventions which occur while the license is in effect, and this liability will continue for up to six months after the event has ended.

When hosting an event under a special occasion license, the host’s cannot:

  • sell or serve liquor to minors,
  • allow someone who is intoxicated to enter or remain at your event,
  • serve a guest to the point of intoxication,
  • permit unlawful activity,
  • sell illicit liquor (product that has been acquired other than through an approved LDB outlet such as a government liquor store), or
  • allow someone who has a weapon to enter or remain at your event (if you suspect someone has a weapon, notify the police immediately).

In addition, you must ensure:

  • your event does not disturb nearby residents and businesses, and
  • liquor inspectors and police are given immediate access to your event and to any documents related to your Special Occasion Liquor License.