Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about ABC’s Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) Training Program.

General Questions

Is RBS training mandatory and do I need a certificate to serve alcohol in California?

RBS training under the requirements of CA Assembly Bill 1221 will become mandatory on July 1, 2022. The implementations date was modified by Assembly Bill 82. This new state mandate will require on-premises alcoholic beverage servers and their managers to successfully complete an ABC approved RBS training program and exam no later than August 31, 2022.

Currently, RBS training is only required if your local government mandates it. If you are required to take an RBS class for employment, please access the RBS Portal to search for a Department Authorized training provider and approved program.

Why did the implementation date for the mandatory RBS training change from July 2021 to July 2022?

On June 29, 2020, Assembly Bill 82 was passed into law, which amended the required implementation date of AB 1221 from July 1, 2021 to July 1, 2022.  

Who must be trained under AB 1221?

Beginning in July 2022, any ABC licensee who has an “ABC On-Premises License” will need to have their staff (alcohol servers and managers of alcohol servers) trained and certified in RBS within sixty (60) days of the date of initial employment.  This includes but is not limited to restaurants, bars, fast casual dining, tasting rooms (including off-sale locations), hotels, and stadiums.

RBS certification means that the alcohol server has successfully completed training by an ABC approved training provider and passed the alcohol server certification exam (hosted by ABC). Once the server has successfully completed the training and exam, their certification is valid for 3 years. The alcohol server certification must be renewed prior to its expiration to remain valid.

“ABC On-Premises License” means an ABC license that grants the privilege to serve alcoholic beverages to customers who then consume them on the licensed premises.

The following license types have On-Premises privileges: Type 1, 2, 3, 4, 23, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47,  48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55,  56, 57,  58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78,  80, 83, 86, 87, 88, 99.

What are the regulations pertaining to RBS?

The regulations have been incorporated into the California Code of Regulations, Title 4, Article 25, Sections 160-173, the regulations are currently in effect and govern how the RBSTP will be implemented. The Regulations were finalized in May of 2020. Interested Parties may request a copy of the regulations by emailing or by visiting our Approved Regulations page.

What is the difference between RBS and LEAD?

Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) training educates people seeking employment or those who are currently employed as servers of alcoholic beverages at on-premises licensed locations. It provides servers with the necessary knowledge and skills to responsibly serve alcoholic beverages to avoid causing alcohol related harm to their communities.

Licensee Education on Alcohol and Drugs (LEAD) is ABC’s free voluntary prevention and education program for off-sale licensees and their employees. LEAD provides practical information on selling alcoholic beverages safely, responsibly and legally, and preventing illicit drug activity on or around their licensed establishment.

Although some local governments currently require servers working in their jurisdictions to attend a LEAD course, the ABC LEAD program will not fulfill the requirements mandated by AB 1221 and will not qualify as an ABC approved RBS Training when the new training mandate goes into effect in 2022.

Alcohol Server and the Manager of Alcohol Servers

How do I find my Server ID number?

There are two ways you can locate your server ID number. The first is by way of the registration message that is sent via the RBS Portal. To access the message, click on the envelope icon, the message will be titled Enrollment Registration Completed. The second way you can see your Server ID number on your Server Dashboard; it will be in the first box with your Server Details.

How do I search for approved RBS training providers?

Once you have created an account on the RBS Portal, you can look for approved RBS training providers. We will be adding more training courses over the next couple of months and year; therefore, we encourage you to periodically check the RBS Portal for a provider in your preferred learning format, price range, or favorite training vendor.

How do I access my alcohol server certification exam?

The training provider from whom you took training has up to 24 hours to report you have completed training and grant access to the exam. You will receive an email from ABC/RBS Portal notifying you that your exam is ready.

If it has been more than 24 hours, you may reach out to the training provider who provided your course and inquire as to when your exam access may be granted.

How do I get a copy of my certification to provide my employer as proof of certification?

Congratulations on completing training and completing the RBS exam to become certified. Your training certificate is recorded on your Server Dashboard in the training history at the bottom of the page. We are using digital certificates, which will be housed in the RBS Portal. You have been issued a certification number, and that will serve as your training certificate and is valid for three years.

Your employer will be able to check and confirm your certification via the Licensee Login on the RBS Portal, which will be available later this year as it gets closer to the legal requirement for the mandatory statewide training. In the interim, if you want, you may take a screenshot of your Server Dashboard and provide that to your employer.

What is the definition of an alcohol server under AB 1221?

An alcohol server, as defined under AB 1221 includes anyone who does any of the following:

  1. Checks customer identification for purposes of alcoholic beverage service or entry to an ABC on-premises licensed establishment;
  2. Takes customer alcoholic beverage orders;
  3. Pours alcoholic beverages for customers; or
  4. Delivers alcoholic beverages to customers.

What is the definition of an alcohol manager under AB 1221?

A manager means any person who trains, directly hires, or oversees alcohol servers at an ABC licensed premises, or any person who trains alcohol servers how to perform the service of alcohol for consumption for an ABC on-premises licensee, including but not limited to, when to check identification or when to refuse service to a patron.

This definition specifically excludes an employee or contractor of another separate ABC licensee who is training alcohol servers for marketing or distribution purposes.

I recently completed a responsible beverage service training course. Do I still need to take another training course and pass an exam in order to be certified after July 1, 2022?

Yes. Prior to Monday, March 29, 2021, none of the responsible beverage service training providers currently offering services in CA were ABC approved for the upcoming statewide mandate. Servers may search for ABC approved RBS training providers via the RBS Portal. 

The city/county where I work has specific ordinances for RBS training for alcohol servers, do those all still apply under AB 1221?

AB 1221 has set the standards for the types of RBS trainings to be offered (both in-person and online, as well as in English and Spanish languages, at minimum), the frequency of certification (3 years), and who must attend RBS training (anyone who falls under the definition of an alcohol server or alcohol server manager). Cities and counties may apply additional ordinances that further support the efforts of AB 1221 but does not supersede the standards defined in the act. The legal mandates for AB 1221 go into effect July 1, 2022.

How do I register as an alcohol server?

To register as an alcohol server (including managers of alcohol servers) with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the alcohol server will need to create an account on the RBS Portal. Once an account has been created on the RBS Portal, the alcohol server will need to select and complete the Server Registration form. There is a $3.00 fee associated with the registration process.

How much is the RBS Exam?

The cost of the exam is $3.00; it is included as part of the alcohol server’s registration into the RBS portal. Once training has been confirmed by the training provider, exam access will be granted, and the alcohol server will have three attempts to pass the exam with a 70% or better before having to retake the training and paying $3.00 for the exam. The exam is currently offered in English and Spanish.


Who is exempt from taking RBS training under AB 1221?

Anyone who’s primary or occasional job duties do not fall under the definition of an alcohol server or manager or does not perform any of the duties as defined as the service of alcoholic beverages for consumption is exempt from mandated RBS training under AB 1221. However, RBS training can be completed by any person who wishes to do so under the statewide program.

The “serving alcoholic beverages for consumption” means performing any of the following actions by an alcohol server as an employee or contractor of an ABC on-premises licensee when interacting with a patron of the ABC licensed premises:

  1. Checking patron identification;
  2. Taking patron alcoholic beverage orders;
  3. Pouring alcoholic beverages for patrons; or
  4. Delivering alcoholic beverages to patrons.

As an alcohol distributor, who provides trainings to bars and restaurants, etc. on how to feature our products for marketing purposes, does my staff have to be trained under AB 1221?

No. Under the definition of a manager, an employee or contractor of another separate ABC Licensee who is training alcohol servers for marketing or distribution purposes are exempt from RBS training under AB 1221.

As an academic instructor, who teaches a beer or wine course where beer or wine is tasted, at a college or university that is not an ABC licensed premises, do I have to be RBS trained and certified?

The instructor does not have to be RBS trained and certified as they are not serving to the public for consumption at an ABC licensed premises. However, the Department recommends all persons who serve alcohol for consumption voluntarily complete the certification.

As a salon or barbershop owner/stylist, who provides their customers with a complementary beer or wine, that is not an ABC licensed premises, do I and/or my staff have to be RBS trained and certified?

The employees of a salon or barbershop do not have to be RBS trained and certified as they are not serving to the public for consumption at an ABC licensed premises. However, the department recommends all persons who serve alcohol for consumption voluntarily complete the certification.


As an ABC On-Premises Licensee, what are the important dates that I need to know to be in compliance with the new law?

ABC approved RBS training and certification will be mandatory for alcohol servers and their managers beginning July 1, 2022.

ABC On-Premises Licensees have sixty (60) days from July 1, 2022 to have their staff trained and certified by an approved RBS training provider. This includes the successful completion of an ABC administered RBS exam.

Enforcement of AB 1221 will begin September 1, 2022.

Training Provider

How do I become a Training Provider for RBS?

ABC is currently accepting and processing RBS training provider applications on an ongoing basis. If you are interested in becoming an approved RBS Training Provider, you can submit an application online in the RBS Portal.

Will ABC be offering a “Train-the-Trainer” course before the launch of the new mandatory training requirements?

ABC will not be offering a “Train-the-Trainer” course before the launch of the new mandatory training requirements. Anyone who is interested in becoming an approved training provider under AB 1221 will need to apply and submit a training program based on our mandatory curriculum requirements as provided in California Code of Regulations, Title 4, Article 25, Sections 162-166.

I was previously on ABC’s RBS Trainer List. Do I need to re-apply to become an RBS training provider under AB 1221?

Yes. All persons interested in becoming an approved RBS Training Provider under AB 1221 will need to file an application with ABC. This includes those programs that were previously included on a list maintained by ABC in the past. ABC is now accepting training provider applications.

To receive updates and announcements regarding the RBS Training Program, please sign up on our mailing list.

If I am currently offering RBS training programs, does ABC want me to stop offering training?

Yes. As of Monday, March 29,2021, ABC will begin issuing approvals to RBS training providers who have submitted training courses and have had them approved by the Department. The RBS training provider application became available online on Tuesday, February 23. 2021. Training provider applications are currently being accepted and processed.

One-Day License

Does AB 1221 apply to person(s) obtaining daily on-sale licenses?

Yes. For anyone obtaining a daily on-sale license, at least one person must be RBS trained and certified. This designee must be present at the event and actively oversee the alcohol service for the entire duration of the event. Additionally, this designee must also create and implement policies for the event that mandate and foster responsible alcoholic beverage service.

The 60-day grace period exemption for not having an alcohol server certification is not applicable to daily licenses.

Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) Training


For additional information contact:

3927 Lennane Drive, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95834
Phone: (916) 928-7621

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Teléfono: (916) 928-7621