Close Window
Print this PagePrint This Page

Serving It RightServing It Right

BC’s Responsible Beverage Service Program

Distributed by go2Distributed by go2

Getting Started


The Purpose of Serving It Right

What is Serving It Right?


The overall goal of alcohol policy in BC is to use regulation and other strategies to maximize social and economic benefits while minimizing alcohol related harms and costs. A fundamental component of reducing alcohol related problems are training programs like BC's Serving It Right (SIR). SIR is designed for:

Developed by representatives of the hospitality industry in partnership with the provincial government, SIR provides critical information on the effects of alcohol on people, and techniques for preventing over-service. This information will help you develop a more positive environment for your patrons, a professional image for your establishment, and increased awareness of your legal responsibilities around alcohol service.

SIR educates licensees, servers and retailers to:

  1. understand the effects of alcohol on the body
  2. know how to recognize signs of intoxication
  3. know their responsibilities under the law and the consequences for not meeting them
  4. know how to ID minors to prevent underage drinking
  5. know how to develop and/or support appropriate alcohol service policies


The Serving It Right program was initiated during a provincial liquor policy review in 1987. During the review’s public hearings, representatives from virtually all types of licensed establishments requested a mandatory responsible beverage service (RBS) program for BC. More than 20 similar public and private sector programs were reviewed in order to develop the original program. Serving It Right differed from these other programs in that it was a joint initiative of both the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch and the hospitality industry. The involvement of these two groups ensured that:

  • the course provided authoritative information on provincial legislation and Liquor Control and Licensing Branch policies;
  • the skills and strategies presented in the course drew on expertise in the industry and are practical and workable in the context of licensed establishments.

In 1989, two versions of the program—licensee and server—became mandatory for liquor primary establishments and their servers.

Since 1989, the provincial government has entrusted the responsibility for delivering Serving It Right to a non-profit tourism association—the Hospitality Industry Education Advisory Committee. HIEAC was founded in 1976 to address the training needs of the tourism and hospitality industry. Founding members who reviewed and endorsed the Serving It Right program were the B.C. Cabaret Owners’ Association, B.C. Chef's Association, B.C. Motels, Campgrounds, Resorts Association, B.C. & Yukon Hotels’ Association, Neighbourhood Pub Owners’ Association of B.C., Canadian Food Service Executives Association, and the Restaurant & Foodservices Association of B.C.

In 2003, after an 18-month task-force review, HIEAC changed its name to go2hr - The resource for people in Tourism.

 The new SIR program

In 2005 and 2006, the provincial government, go2HR and representatives of the hospitality industry evaluated and substantially updated the existing program. Tourism associations who reviewed and endorsed this program included the Alliance of Beverage Licensees of B.C., Restaurants Canada, the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association, and the B.C. & Yukon Hotels’ Association.

In 2007, a single (R) certificate program was introduced for Serving It Right. The current version reflects changes based on certificate holder feedback over the past 5 years, primarily in the "Implementing responsible beverage service" section. In 2015, new content has been added to the SIR course as outlined in the Liquor Policy Review.

 Who must have a SIR certificate?

All licensees, managers and staff must obtain SIR certification prior to working in a licensed establishment. SIR certification is not an eligibility criteria for licensing, but it is an operating requirement.

Whether or not you - or your staff - require a Serving It Right certificate generally depends on the type of liquor licence you have. Review the relevant licensee terms and conditions handbook for more details.

 Food-Primary Licence (restaurants)

This type of licence is issued to businesses where the primary purpose is the service of food when liquor is being served in the service area. The businesses may use their service area for activities or events that are not food focused, as long as liquor service is not offered. Licensees, managers, servers and all those who may be left in charge need to have a SIR certificate. If you have a catering endorsement, the SIR program must be completed by all licensees, managers and servers working at events.

 Liquor-Primary Licence / Liquor-Primary Club Licence (For example: bars, pubs, nightclubs, casinos, stadiums)

This licence is issued to any business, except those frequented predominantly by minors or that operate in a motor vehicle where the service of liquor is for on-premises consumption. This may include bars, pubs, nightclubs, stadiums, spas, art galleries and cooking schools, etc. Licensees, managers, servers and bartenders in these establishments must all have SIR certificates. If you have a catering endorsement, the SIR program must be completed by all licensees, managers and servers working at events. Flight attendants serving alcohol on the ground must also have SIR certification. Food primary establishments can apply for a liquor primary licence at the same location and operate as a bar or nightclub after a certain hour, such as 9 p.m. Liquor primary establishments can also apply for a food primary licence at the same location and operate as a restaurant and permit minors during specified hours, such as until 7 p.m. A liquor primary and a food primary may not be operated at the same establishment unless the same person holds both licences.

 Catering Licence

This type of licence is issued to catering companies to provide a full range of food and beverage services at their clients' events. Licensed caterers can purchase, transport and sell liquor, and may maintain a liquor inventory. Events where liquor is sold by a licensed caterer are considered either residential events or catered events. Licensees, managers and staff serving liquor at events must have a SIR certificate.

 Licensee Retail Store Licence (private liquor stores)

Licensee retail stores, commonly known as private liquor stores, may sell all types of liquor. All licensees, managers and sales staff at licensee retail stores must have SIR certificates.

 Wine Stores

There are five types of wine stores, which are authorized to sell only packaged wine for off-premises consumption. All licensees, managers and servers in all wine stores, with the exception of sacramental wine stores, must have SIR certificates.

 Special Wine Stores

The special wine store licence permits the sale of 100% BC wine on grocery store shelves. Wine may be purchased at designated tills or regular tills. Regardless of the type of till, the staff making the sale must have Serving It Right certification and be at least 19 years of age.

 Duty Free Stores

All managers and servers, with the exception of ship chandlers must have SIR certification.

 BC Liquor Stores

All managers and sales staff at BC Liquor Stores must have SIR certificates.

 Manufacturer Sampling Areas, On-Site Stores, Lounges and Special Event Areas

SIR certification is required for all licensees, managers and servers.

 Rural Agency Stores

Rural agency stores (RAS) are liquor stores situated within larger retail stores such as a grocery store and are typically found in more remote locations. They may sell all types of liquor. SIR certificates are required for agents and servers in rural agency stores.


All agents and sales staff must complete the SIR program, with the exception of foreign representatives of foreign liquor manufacturers.

 Care Facilities

Staff responsible for the service of liquor to their patients, residents and guests must complete the SIR program.

 Special Event Permit

This permit is issued to an individual, organization or business to sell or serve drinks containing liquor to patrons in the service area under the permit at a special event. Anyone planning to sell liquor in any location that is not licensed or serve or sell liquor in a public place - such as a community hall must apply for a Special Event Permit (SEP). A SEP is not required if your event is hosted within a private residence or a licensed establishment. Special events include both private and public events such as weddings, cultural or sporting events, community festivals, outdoor concerts, etc. The host of the special event (either an individual or a designated representative from a club or other group) must apply for the SEP.

A new, abridged training program has been developed specifically for SEP events and is required as of September 15, 2015. The new Special Event Server (SES) training training is required for SEP holders , managers and servers of events with under 500 attendees and all SEP servers (paid or unpaid), regardless of the size or type of SEP. Those who already hold a valid Serving It Right certificate are not required to take the SES program. More information can be found at

The former Special Occasion Licence (SOL) is now called a Special Event Permit (SEP) to reflect the new language used in the Liquor Control and Licensing Act. The terminology has been updated because permits are temporary in nature and licences are permanent.


Servers or bartenders relocating to British Columbia from other Canadian jurisdictions who have current certification from one of the following responsible beverage service programs are exempted from the SIR training requirement in British Columbia, however, employers in British Columbia can require an out of province certificate holder to get a Serving it Right certificate as a best practice.

Servers and bartenders with a valid SIR equivalent certificate from other Canadian jurisdictions are exempt from SIR training. However, Licensees, managers and others left in charge must have a valid SIR certificate.

Foreign representatives of foreign liquor manufacturers temporarily in BC are also exempt if supervised by a person who is SIR certified.