Frequently Asked 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 serving alcoholic beverages safely, responsibly, and legally, as well as ways to prevent illicit drug activity at a licensed establishment.
Alcohol Server and the Manager of Alcohol Servers
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:
- Checks customer identification for purposes of alcoholic beverage service or entry to an ABC on-premises licensed establishment;
- Takes customer alcoholic beverage orders;
- Pours alcoholic beverages for customers; or
- 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.
Where can I find approved RBS training providers?
As of Monday, March 29, 2021, ABC will begin approving AB 1221 compliant RBS training courses from a variety of approved RBS training providers. The Department will be adding additional training provider courses as they are approved. Servers may search for approved RBS training providers via the RBS Portal.
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:
- Checking patron identification;
- Taking patron alcoholic beverage orders;
- Pouring alcoholic beverages for patrons; or
- Delivering alcoholic beverages to patrons.
As an alcohol distributer, 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.
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.
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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.
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.