Retail and Distribution Laws

Private Transactions of Wine in BC

BC has extremely restrictive laws regarding the sale of wine (and all liquor). These laws stem from the prohibition era and may not make much sense to you.

Nevertheless, the end result of the law is that wine cannot be sold in BC unless it is sold under a license issued by the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch. There are no exemptions for private sales or for sales of wine through auction unless you go through the LDB. The relevant law (s.38 of the Liquor Control and Licensing Act ) reads as follows:

38  (1) Except as provided in this Act, the Liquor Distribution Act or the regulations made under those Acts, a person must not, personally or by his or her clerk, employee or agent, keep for sale, sell or, in consideration of the purchase or transfer of property or for other consideration, give liquor to another person.

(2) Despite subsection (1), a delivery service may purchase liquor on behalf of a customer during the days and hours for sale of liquor prescribed in that area and deliver the liquor to the customer, if the charge for the liquor is no more than the liquor store price plus the delivery service charge.

(3) A licensee must not sell liquor except

(a) liquor purchased from the Liquor Distribution Branch, and

(b) in accordance with this Act, the regulations and the terms and conditions of the licence.

As you will notice, this law is very broad in that, unless you are specifically permitted to do so by that statute or the Liquor Distribution Act, you cannot sell liquor, you cannot keep it for sale, you cannot give it to another person if you receive any "consideration" for the transfer. Of course, the two statutes that are mentioned basically only permit sales if you have a license from the LCLB. 

As a result, it is illegal in BC to sell liquor privately or to barter it or otherwise trade it for consideration. This applies even if you originally bought the liquor from a government source such as a BC Liquor Store. So you cannot legally sell or auction your old bottles of wine in BC. You can't legally trade them either. All you can do with them is drink them!

Retail and Distribution Laws

Brief History of BC Wine & Liquor Laws

Current B.C. liquor laws do not make sense at all unless you have some sense of their history and development from the time of prohibition (which is now approaching a century ago!).

Pre-Prohibition Era

In BC\’s earliest \”wild west\” days,
there was no regulation over the liquor business at all. Bars and
saloons were major features of the larger cities such as Vancouver and
Victoria. Many were open 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. During this
era, it was perceived that there was a substantial problem of
maintaining public order as a result of unregulated drinking and
drunkenness. …