FAQs: Beverage Alcohol

Does the Smart Serve Certification expire?

The Smart Serve certification doesn’t currently expire, however you must be in possession of your card for the certification to be valid. If you no longer have your Smart Serve card, you can order a replacement card by contact Smart Serve Ontario – click here.

I have my Server Intervention Program (S.I.P) Certificate, do I need to take the Smart Serve training?

The AGCO still recognizes The Server Intervention Program certification issued prior to May 1995. It is still valid as long as the individual is still in possession of the certificate. If the certificate is lost there is no company that can replace it as there are no records in existence to do so and the individual must re-do the training.

Is my my certificate for “Serving Alcohol with Care” that I obtained in January 1987 the same as Smart Serve?

Smart Serve Ontario has been offering the training program since 1995. Prior to 1995 the Addiction and Research Foundation offered a similar course called Server Intervention Program. Since the certificate you currently hold does not fall under either of the approved training course, if you wish to pursue a career in the hospitality industry you will be required to complete the Smart Serve Training Program. For more information about our program please visit www.smartserve.ca

Can Customers bring their own wine and liquor for events?

Customers can bring their own wine only under two following conditions.
(1) Homemade wine and beer (including those made at a licensed Ferment on Premise facility) may be brought by a Special Occasion Permit holder and served but not sold at a wedding or other recognized religious events (example: baptism, bar mitzvah, etc…) Recognized religious events however does not include the renewal of matrimonial vows. (2) Under the authority of a Bring Your Own Wine (BYOW) endorsement attached to the establishment’s liquor sales licence.

Bring Your Own Wine?

A licensed establishment can apply for a Bring Your Own Wine endorsement to allow their patrons to bring unopened bottle(s) of commercially made wine for their consumption. A restaurant employee must open the wine, as would be the case if the patron had purchased the wine from the establishment. The wine must have its manufacturer´s seal intact when presented to the restaurant employee for opening.

Can I discount drinks at my bar? Bring prices down during the day?

Yes, responsible drink price flexibility is permitted. A licensee may vary the purchase price of liquor as long as it remains above the minimum price. You may find our Pricing and Promotion of Liquor guidelines at www.agco.on.ca with specific reference to Information Bulletin No.14. “Pricing and Promotion of Liquor Sales Licensees (2007)”.
Happy Hour in Ontario? (Classifications?) The posting and advertising of prices and promotions must be responsible in nature. A licensee is not permitted to advertise or post liquor prices and promotions, inside or outside of the licensed premises in a manner that may promote immoderate consumption. For example terms “Happy Hour” or “Cheap Drinks”, or something similar, is prohibited and drink prices may not be based on the purchase of other drinks such 2 for 1 drinks. You may find our advertising guidelines for licensees at www.agco.on.ca. with specific reference to Information Bulletin No.14. “Pricing and Promotion of Liquor Sales Licensees (2007)”.

Fire Inspection requirements for AGCO and licensed capacity?

Licensees must ensure that their premises comply with all applicable zoning by-laws, Building Code Act, Fire Protection and Prevention Act and Health Protection and Promotion Act. To this effect, before a licence can be issued or changes/additions made to licensed areas, the licensee must have their establishment inspected by the municipal Fire, Building and Health officials and have them submit letters to the Commission indicating compliance with their respective codes. The occupant load for licensed areas in an establishment must be set by the municipal Building or Fire department. If neither Building nor Fire department indicates occupant load in any municipality, then the applicant/licensee must submit a floor plan which has been signed and stamped by an architect or a professional engineer, with them assigning the occupant load for each licensed area.