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, 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 email@example.com 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.
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.
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.
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. This $3.00 fee is non-refundable. Watch a short video to learn how to become a registered server or manager.
Can I edit my personal information after I register?
No, you currently cannot edit your name, birthdate, address, or other personal information. You must register for training with the same information you provided during registration.
How do I reset my password?
Password reset is an automated, self-service feature, and our staff cannot view or change your password. Passwords must be a minimum of 15 characters and cannot be similar to a previously used password. For example, if your previous password was RBSCertificationTest123, you cannot use RBSCertificationTest123@! as your new password.
What is the cost of 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.
Is there an additional cost for RBS training outside of the $3.00 fee to ABC?
Our approved training providers are authorized to charge a fee for their RBS training program. The cost of training varies from the training providers. Corporate or group pricing can be negotiated with approved training providers upon request. The approved training provider will need to be contacted directly to negotiate corporate or group pricing.
Why doesn’t the RBS portal show my payment?
If you have a confirmation of payment but the system is showing your payment as incomplete, please forward your email confirmation from firstname.lastname@example.org to email@example.com so we can work with our accounting department to link the payment to your account.
What is my server ID number?
Your Server ID is in the “Server Certificate Details” box on your dashboard. It is called “ID Number” and is a nine-digit number.
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.
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. Our approved in-person and online courses range from approximately 90 minutes to 4 hours in length.
What languages are the RBS training courses currently offered in?
We currently have approved RBS training courses in English and Spanish.
How do I search for a training provider?
Select the Search button from the Training Provider Search on your dashboard to see a list of all available training providers. Use the filters to narrow your search results. If you do not see any training providers, try using fewer filters.
Why can’t I access my exam?
Your exam will be available after your training provider confirms you have completed the training course. Once your training is confirmed, the “Take Exam” button will be active on your dashboard. Please contact your training provider if they have not confirmed your training after 24 hours.
How do I get a copy of my RBS certification?
We will not be issuing physical or downloadable RBS certificates. Upon completion of training and the certification exam, the alcohol server will be issued a certification number which is valid for three years. The alcohol server certification number is recorded on the Alcohol Server’s Dashboard in the training history at the bottom of the page of the RBS Portal. Licensees will be able to verify that their servers are RBS certified using the (certification number and the server’s name) as we get closer to the legal requirement for the mandatory statewide training.
Who is exempt from taking RBS Training under AB 1221?
Anyone whose 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 AB1221. However, RBS Training can be completed by any person who wishes to do so under the statewide program.
“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 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.
Do employees of a licensed plane or boat (Type 54 and 55) need to be RBS trained and certified under AB 1221?
The alcohol servers and managers of alcohol servers for a Type 54 or Type 55 license are exempt from the AB 1221 training mandate.
As an 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.
As an off-sale licensee who also holds a Type 86-Instructional tasting license. Does the instructional server need to be RBS certified?
Yes, because the server is serving an alcoholic beverage to the general public for consumption on the premises, they would need to be RBS certified. It is incumbent on both the off-sale licensee and distributor to insure their employee or agent meet this requirement because the server at these tastings is acting as an agent of both for these types of events. This remains true if either licensee hires a third-party to serve at these events as they remain an agent of the licensees.
Do staff who serve alcohol on a train have to be RBS trained and certified?
Employees of a licensed train (license types 43, 44, 45, 46, and 53,) will need to be RBS trained and certified.
Can I register all my staff?
No, each server will need to register for their account individually.
Does an employer need to pay for current employees to be RBS trained under the new statewide mandate?
The Department cannot give guidance on this issue, and strongly recommends employees and employers consult labor attorneys that specialize in the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act and similar laws under California law which often extend protections to employees further. The time an employee is being trained may be deemed as hours worked since the training is mandatory to remain employed and directly related to an alcohol server’s employment, even if asked to be completed away from the business and not during normal working hours. In addition, certain California laws require employees to pay any costs associated for trainings required to maintain employment. This information is shared not as a mandate that employers pay for the training or compensate employees for their time to take the training, as that would be dictated by decisions by either a court of competent jurisdiction, or the Federal or State fair employment departments. For more information you may visit the Labor and Workforce Agency website or the Labor Commissioner's Office website for more information on job-related trainings.
How do I check whether my staff is certified?
We are using digital certificates and your servers can provide you with a screenshot of their server dashboard. We are adding the ability to allow you to confirm your staff’s status through the portal, but that feature is not yet available. We expect it to be available in late spring.
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.
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.
For server registration assistance contact your local district office:
4800 Stockdale Highway., Suite 213
Bakersfield CA, 93309
- (661) 395-2731
- (661) 322-5929
1800 Sutter St., Ste 450
Concord CA , 94520
- (925) 655-6314
- (925) 655-6310
1105 Sixth St., Suite C
Eureka CA, 95501
- (707) 445-7229
- (707) 445-6643
1330 B East Shaw Ave.
Fresno CA, 93710-7902
- (559) 225-6334
- (559) 225-8740
888 S Figueroa Street, Suite 320
Los Angeles CA, 90017
- (213) 833-6043
- (213) 833-6058
3950 Paramount Blvd., Suite 250
Lakewood CA, 90712
- (562) 982-1337
- (562) 982-1396
222 E. Huntington Dr., Suite 114
Monrovia CA, 91016
- (626) 256-3241
- (626) 263-9858
34-160 Gateway Dr., Suite 120
Palm Desert CA, 92211
- (760) 324-2027
- (760) 324-2632
1900 Churn Creek Rd., Suite 215
Redding CA, 96002
- (530) 224-4830
- (530) 224-9338
3737 Main Street, Suite 900
Riverside CA, 92501
- (951) 782-4400
- (951) 781-0531
2400 Del Paso Road, Suite 155
Sacramento CA, 95834
- (916) 419-1319
- (916) 419-3994
1137 Westridge Parkway
Salinas CA, 93907
- (831) 755-1990
- (831) 755-1997
1350 Front St., Room 5056
San Diego CA, 92101
- (619) 525-4064
- (619) 231-1171
33 New Montgomery St., Suite 1230
San Francisco CA, 94105
- (415) 356-6500
- (415) 356-6599
100 Paseo de San Antonio, Room 119
San Jose CA, 95113
- (408) 277-1200
- (408) 971-9421
San Luis Obispomap
3220 S. Higuera St., Suite 103A
San Luis Obispo CA, 93401
- (805) 543-7183
- (805) 543-3814
570 Rancheros Drive, Suite 240
San Marcos CA, 92069
- (760) 471-4237
- (760) 471-6142
2 MacAurthur Place, Suite 200
Santa Ana CA, 92707
- (657) 205-3533
- (657) 205-3520
50 D Street, Room 130
Santa Rosa CA, 95404
- (707) 576-2165
31 E. Channel St., Room 168
Stockton CA, 95202
- (209) 948-7739
- (209) 546-7853
6150 Van Nuys Blvd., Room 220
Van Nuys CA, 91401
- (818) 901-5017
- (818) 785-6731
For training provider and general program assistance contact:
3927 Lennane Drive, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95834