On July 1, 2022, the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control began requiring that all bartenders be licensed in order to sell and serve alcohol.
According to CA Assembly Bill 1221, bartenders, servers, and managers will be required to have valid Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) Training from an ABC accredited license provider and pass an exam within 60 days from their hire date.
Once you have passed the exam, the license is good for 3 (three) years.
This post was updated on September 22, 2023.
Step-by-step instructions to become RBS certified
At first blush, the steps to receive California RBS training can seem daunting. But don’t worry, it’s actually quite easy and we’ve distilled everything you need to know in easy to read directions below.
Step 1: Register as a California Server
- Navigate to California’s Alcohol Beverage Control RBS Portal and click ‘Login/Register’
- If it is your first time to the website click ‘Create an Account’ and fill out the required information
- Navigate to your email and confirm the email you receive from ‘ABC No Reply’
- You will be taken to a confirmation page that allows you to select from a few options. Select ‘Alcohol Server‘ and then ‘Continue‘
- Pay the non-refundable $3 fee
- Ensure that everything you have filled out is correct on the ‘Attest & Submit’ page and click continue
- You will now be taken to a dashboard where you will be given your ‘Server ID’
Step 2: Take Training From an Approved RBS Trainer
Once you have signed up as a Server in the RBS Portal, you will see a box titled “Training Provider Search”. If you already know which provider you would like to use, you can go ahead and search for them here. Otherwise, you can leave the form empty and just hit “Search” to see all approved trainers.
The state of California has approved more than 30 training providers. These trainers include both online and in-person trainers as well as training in multiple languages. You can view the entire list of approved training providers at the ABC RBS Portal here.
Once you have selected an approved trainer, you will go to their website to register with your Server ID you received in Step 1. Go ahead and pay for the training and go through the course.
Note: Although you are free to choose any of the providers to become licensed, we suggest taking training from a company which has a long-standing relationship with the state of California and is affordable.
Here at Bartending License Help, we suggest taking the training from Serving Alcohol due to the cost ($10.99) and their over 35 year history of providing training to bartenders.
To get licensed from the Serving Alcohol Program click here. (Our recommendation)
Step 3: Take the ABC Alcohol Server Certification Exam
Once you have received the training from an approved trainer, they will have 24 hours to report to the state that you have completed the requirements.
Once your training has been confirmed by the state, you will receive an email from ABC that you are now able to take your exam. You can either click the button provided in the email or just login to the RBS portal where you will see a button that says “Take Exam“.
Don’t worry. The exam is very easy. It is open-note and open-book and you have 30 days to pass the exam from your training date. In order to pass the exam, you must score a minimum 70%. If you don’t pass in three attempts, you will have to pay another $3.00.
On passing your exam your dashboard will now say “Certified”. Congratulations, you are now certified to bartend in California. Just be sure to write down your Server ID as you will need to provide it to your employer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do security guards and bouncers need to be RBS certified?
Yes. According to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage control, anyone who checks IDs for entry into an establishment that serves alcohol to be drunk on premises must be licensed.
Do Managers need to be RBS certified?
Yes. Any on-premise manager must take RBS training and pass an ABC Alcohol Server Certification exam within 60 days of being employed. A manager is defined as: “anyone who trains, directly hires, or oversees alcohol servers at an ABC licensed premises, or who trains alcohol servers how to perform the service of alcohol for consumption for an ABC on-premises licensee.”
What is the Minimum Age To Serve Alcoholic Beverages In California?
In the state of California, anyone who prepares or serves alcohol at a bar must be 21 years old.
However, an employee aged 18-21 may serve alcoholic beverages to customers if and only if the service occurs in an area designated for the service and consumption of food. Furthermore, the employees primary duty while on the job must be the service of meals to guests, not the service of alcohol. Of course, this can be a gray area, so it is best to confirm with your employer.
Other Requirements That May Be Helpful:
- Driver’s License
- Good Communication Skills
- Proper non-slip bartending shoes.
- Knowledge of basic drink recipes
For more information, please contact your local City Clerk’s office.