BC Liquor Branch updates policy for Online Sale and Delivery of Alcohol

On May 24, 2019 the Liquor Control and Cannabis Regulation Branch issued Policy Direction No. 19 – 03 which supersedes Policy Direction No. 16 – 13.

As readers of Alcohol & Advocacy know, in British Columbia private liquor stores (Licensee Retail Stores), Wine Stores and Manufacturers with Onsite Stores may deliver liquor to customers purchased online under certain terms and conditions. We’ve previously written about this topic here.

The 2016 policy was silent on who was responsible for ensuring that delivery services follow the Liquor Control and Licensing Act, its Regulation and Branch policy. This policy update fills that gap. It is now clear that the licensee is accountable for any contravention that takes place while liquor is delivered from their store.

The Branch has also clarified online advertising requirements for liquor sales. Previously private liquor stores and manufacturers could advertise on a website owned and operated by an unlicensed third party only if the website served as a “portal” to the licensee website where the sales are eventually processed.

Under the updated policy the Branch will permit an unlicensed third party website to have “a space that is considered equivalent to a licensee’s own website by the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB).”

Space on a third party’s website is considered to be equivalent to a licensee’s own website when the following conditions are met:

  • The licensee’s store name, licence number and store address are displayed prominently on the page;
  • The licensee has exclusive control over the product selection and the price being advertised;
  • The product selection is reflective of the licensee’s in-store offerings; and
  • Liquor orders made on the website are processed and prepared by the licensee.

Interested in selling alcohol online? Have questions or concerns about Branch policy? Contact Dan Coles at Owen Bird.

*Alcohol & Advocacy publishes articles for information purposes only. They are not a substitute for legal advice, and persons requiring such advice should consult legal counsel.

Dan Coles
Retired bartender. Young lawyer. From the East, living in the West. Interested in British Columbia's producers and purveyors of wine, beer and spirits.