Frequently Asked Questions


Q. What is the Open Call? Is this how I apply for a liquor retail sales licence?

A. The open call is an AGCO initiative inviting organizations with liquor retail training programs to submit their program to the AGCO for approval so that they can be used by liquor retail licensees and their employees. This is not the application process for a licence to sell liquor in convenience or grocery stores.

If you are interested applying for a new liquor retail licence for a convenience store or grocery store, please visit the AGCO’s website for more information. Note: the AGCO will begin accepting applications for retail licences from convenience stores and grocery stores on June 17, 2024.

Q. Where can I find information on the updated laws and regulations for the expansion of the liquor retail marketplace?

A. The Liquor Licence and Control Act, 2019 and its regulations have recently been updated to reflect the expansion of liquor retail sales. Please see the “Important Links” section of this page.

In addition, e-Laws | provides access to official copies of Ontario’s statutes and regulations.

Application Requirements

Q. What are the application requirements and other relevant criteria for applicants? 

A. This opportunity is open to all organizations interested in offering mandatory liquor retail employee training in Ontario. Approval of a program is subject to the Program Requirements and Program Guidelines that outline the expectations and requirements for operating an AGCO Board-approved liquor retail training program (see Forms A and A1 in the Application Package).

Q. Should my program include content on serving liquor?

A. The AGCO is currently only accepting applications for training programs dedicated to the responsible retail sale of liquor. Please refer to the Program Requirements (in Form A.1 of the Application Package) for details on required training program content.

Smart Serve will remain the only AGCO Board-approved training program for the broader liquor sector, including for liquor sales licensees and their employees.

Q. Is the AGCO providing funding to providers to prepare their programs?

A. No funding will be made available to applicants through this process, and approved programs do not receive any funding from the AGCO. Training providers may charge learners a fee to complete their AGCO Board-approved program and will retain all revenue generated from the delivery of their program.

Applicants are fully responsible for assessing the business viability of this opportunity; the AGCO cannot guarantee or validate revenue generation estimations as a result of Board approval.  

Q. Is previous experience in delivering a training program required? 

A. While not required, experience developing responsible sales training is considered an asset.

Application Process

Q. Are there any additional formatting guidelines? For example, length?

A. All mandatory requirements are laid out in the Application Guide. To be considered for this opportunity, applicants must complete and submit the Application Package, which consists of two parts: Application Questions (Part 1) and Declaration and Consent Forms (Part 2).

Application Evaluation

Q. How will programs be evaluated?

A. AGCO staff will review and score applicants’ programs according to the evaluation criteria outlined in the Application Guide. Successful applications will be brought to the Board for approval.

The AGCO Board maintains full approval authority of liquor retail employee training programs and the Program Guidelines accompanying that approval.

Next steps for approved applicants

Q. Does my program need to be re-approved after a certain period of time, and if so, what is that process?

Liquor retail employee training programs approved by the AGCO Board will have an approval term of three years and the Provider must meet the Program Guidelines throughout the approval term. The Board approval renewal process will be communicated in advance of the approval term end date.

The Provider is required to notify the Commission of any significant changes to the program, and content changes of 25% or more will require re-submission of the entire program for Board approval.


Q. Will the Smart Serve training program remain a training option in Ontario's plans for an expanded liquor retail marketplace?

A. Yes. Smart Serve is currently the only AGCO Board-approved liquor training program in Ontario and will remain an approved program for the broader liquor sector, including for liquor sales licensees and their employees. Through this open call process, up to five new liquor retail employee training programs may be approved by the AGCO Board.

Staff who currently hold a valid Smart Serve training certificate will be able to sell liquor in retail settings until their certificate expires. Once it expires, those individuals will need to recertify with Smart Serve or obtain a new certificate from another Board approved liquor retail employee training program to continue to sell liquor in a retail setting.

<span class="translation_missing" title="translation missing:">Load Comment Text</span>