Selling alcohol in convenience and grocery stores

Learn what’s involved to legally sell alcohol in convenience and grocery stores.

Overview

A rebate program for eligible new and existing small grocery stores is now available: New rebate for small grocers on alcohol retail licence fees
Existing grocery store licence holders: If you currently hold an active beer and cider grocery store licence or a beer and wine grocery store licence, please visit the Existing grocery retailers page to learn more about what’s changing.

Becoming a licensed alcohol retailer in Ontario
 

Becoming a licensed alcohol retailer in Ontario.

Convenience and Grocery Store Licences

Find out what you need to know and to do to sell alcohol in a convenience store or grocery store (including big box retailers) in Ontario. 

  • Overview: Learn more about what’s involved in getting a licence to sell alcohol in a convenience or grocery store. 
  • Apply: Find out if you’re eligible, what you need to get started on your application, and how to apply.
  • Renew or manage your licence: Renew, transfer or make changes to your licence.

AGCO/LCBO Joint Information Webinar For Convenience & Grocery Store Owners

While the official transition remains set for August 1, regulatory changes will permit the sale of ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages as of July 18, 2024.

AGCO/LCBO Information Webinar Slides

Information Webinar Q&As

Steps for eligible Ontario retailers to sell alcohol

Step 1 — Decide if you want to apply.

  • Learn about whether your store may be eligible for a licence.
  • Learn about what's required, how much it will cost, and how long it might take to get started.
  • Learn about the legal obligations that come with holding a licence. Understand all the requirements and whether you can meet them before you apply.
  • Take the time to decide if it's right for you.

Step 2 — Apply for a licence from the AGCO.

  • Learn what you'll need to have ready before you apply and how to apply online on iAGCO.
  • There are two new licences to choose from.
    • Convenience Store Licence — For eligible stores with up to 4,000 square feet of retail floor space.
    • Grocery Store Licence — For eligible stores with more than 4,000 square feet of retail floor space.
    • Still not sure? Learn more about calculating your retail floor space.
  • You must pay all fees when you submit your application. Fees are non-refundable.
  • After you submit your application, the AGCO may contact you for more information.
  • An AGCO inspector may visit your store to confirm your business is eligible.
  • If approved, you'll receive a copy of your licence by email, also available in your iAGCO account.
  • Regardless of when you get your licence, you are not permitted to sell alcohol until you’ve purchased product directly from the LCBO, which is the exclusive wholesaler of retail beverage alcohol for convenience and grocery stores.

Step 3 — LCBO onboarding.

  • Within two business days of receiving a licence from the AGCO, the LCBO will email you a form to complete as part of their onboarding process. The information you provide will be used for access to LCBO's online systems and to create your wholesale customer profile.
  • After you submit your form, the LCBO may contact you for more information.
  • You will be assigned an Account Manager who will contact you and help to make doing business with the LCBO convenient and easy.

Step 4 — Get your store and staff ready.

  • While you're onboarding with the LCBO you should also make sure your store and staff are ready.
  • You and all of your staff that will be involved in the sale, sampling (grocery only), delivery or taking orders for the sale of liquor, as well as security staff, must 18 years of age or older and complete an AGCO approved training program before they are allowed to sell alcohol.
  • Use this time to learn about all your responsibilities as a licensed alcohol retailer.

Step 5 — Purchasing from the LCBO.

  • The LCBO is the exclusive wholesaler for all beverage alcohol products sold to licensed convenience and grocery stores. This includes facilitating product orders, fulfillment, delivery, and all financial transactions. By law, you are only allowed to purchase alcohol for retail from the LCBO.
  • Once you're onboarded, LCBO will provide everything you need to know about doing business with the LCBO, including a catalogue of eligible products and how to order beverage alcohol for sale in your store.
  • Visit LCBO's website to learn more about working with the LCBO.

Step 6 — Sell responsibly!

  • Newly licensed stores cannot start selling alcohol before:
    • September 5, 2024 for convenience stores
    • October 31, 2024 for newly licensed grocery stores (including big box stores).
  • You can only sell alcohol between the hours of 7am – 11pm.
  • Selling responsibly means never selling alcohol to minors or intoxicated customers.
  • An AGCO Inspector may visit your store at any time to confirm you're following the laws.
  • Remember to follow all the laws and requirements that apply to you.
  • Your LCBO Account Manager is available to help you successfully sell retail beverage alcohol products.

Roles of the AGCO and LCBO

Apply for a convenience store or grocery store licence

Learn who is eligible, how much it costs, what you’ll need to prepare, and how to apply online.

Learn more

Managing your licence

Find out how to change, renew or transfer an existing convenience store or grocery store licence.

Learn more