Reunion Permit or Alcohol Permit? Navigating Permits to Serve Alcohol in Quebec

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In Quebec, most events and venues involving the service of alcohol require some type of liquor license. There are several types of liquor license: those for retailers (bars, restaurants, and other permanent venues), those for manufacturers (wineries, microbreweries, etc.) and finally those for gatherings, or reunions (parties, weddings, cultural and association events, company parties, and other types of one-off, non-commercial gatherings). These permits are all issued by the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux (RACJ).

This article explains the difference between the two most common types of permits:

  1. Retail liquor permits (for bars, restaurants, etc.): For establishments where the consumption of alcoholic beverages is authorized, such as bars or restaurants.
  2. Reunion permits (for private, non-commercial gatherings): For events where alcoholic beverages are served or sold in a location not covered by a permanent liquor permit, or to serve alcohol in a location covered by a permanent liquor permit, but whose holder commits not to sell or serve alcohol for the duration of the event.

Reunion permits are issued exclusively for social, cultural, educational or sporting events. Reunion permits are not issued for commercial events. A reunion permit must be obtained for most activities during which alcoholic beverages will be consumed in a location, indoors or outdoors, where no other liquor license is already in operation.

A reunion permit is not required when all the following conditions are met: It is a private activity, no liquor license is in operation at the location where the activity takes place, fewer than 200 people attend the activity, and there are no ticket sales. Any private event that does not meet one or more of these conditions must have a reunion permit in order to legally serve or sell alcohol.

There are 2 types of reunion permits: permits “to sell”, which also includes the right to serve alcoholic beverages free of charge, and the “to serve” reunion permit, which does not include the right to sell alcoholic beverages. Depending on the context surrounding a request for a reunion permit, different conditions for obtaining a permit and operating procedures apply.

All applications for a reunion permit must be submitted at least 15 days before the event in question. However, it is recommended that applications be submitted at least 30 days before the event in question to avoid unpleasant surprises. For all reunion permit requests, certain documents must be consulted, completed or provided.

Some key links are provided below to help you get started on your reunion permit journey. Good luck!

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