What is Serving It Right?
Serving It Right is British Columbia’s responsible beverage service program that educates servers, managers, and licensees about their legal responsibilities when serving alcohol and provides techniques to prevent problems associated with liquor service.
The program is designed for people working in tourism and hospitality as well as individuals whose special occasion licence requires them to have Serving It Right.
Serving It Right became mandatory in BC in 1989 and is a joint initiative of the BC Liquor Control and Licensing Branch and the tourism and hospitality industry, with go2HR as the program administrator. It is endorsed by the Alliance of Beverage Licensees of BC, the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association, and the BC Hotel Association.
The current version was introduced as a single course in 2007, replacing the previous, separate Licensee and Server versions. It is now a requirement to have a Serving It Right certificate prior to holding a liquor licence.
Serving It Right places an emphasis on:
- Signs of intoxication versus impairment;
- Legal liability;
- Duty of care on and off premises;
- The need to create and communicate responsible beverage service policies; and
- How to handle situations requiring intervention.
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.
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.
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.
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 www.specialeventserver.com.
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.
Recognized responsible beverage service programs: ProServe Program (Alberta), Serve it Right (Saskatchewan), Serving It Safe/Smart Choices (Manitoba), Smart Serve (Ontario), Service in Action (Quebec), It’s Good Business: Responsible Service of Alcohol (New Brunswick), It’s Good Business (Nova Scotia), It’s Our Business (Prince Edward Island), It’s Good Business: Responsible Service of Alcohol (Newfoundland and Labrador), Be a Responsible Server (B.A.R.S) (Yukon). More…
For More about Specific Licence Guidelines and Liquor Regulations:
Licensee Guides describe the terms and conditions that must be followed for each licence and/or appointment class. They are available from the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch.
Certification is obtained by taking the course and passing an exam. You have two options:
Option 1: Online
The fastest, easiest (and greenest) way to get your SIR certificate is online at www.servingitright.com. The online program is convenient and offers quizzes and demonstration videos to help you learn the materials. The cost is $35 and you will receive your test results instantly. You can also print out your SIR certificate immediately after passing the exam. Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal are accepted methods of payment.
Option 2: Print Version
You may complete the Serving It Right program by obtaining the print version of the Serving It Right course manual. The manuals are available at government liquor stores, government agents’ offices or by ordering them directly from go2HR at:
Suite 450, One Bentall Centre,
505 Burrard Street, P.O. Box 59,
Vancouver, BC V7X 1M3
Over time, the number of people taking the print version of the exam has decreased significantly. Because of this, effective April 22, 2014, print exams will no longer be published in the Serving It Right manuals. Individual users are encouraged to take their exams online; however, if necessary, print exams will still be available upon request from Serving It Right by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 604-633-9798. If you have any questions about this change, please contact us via the online form.
The exam, along with payment of $40.00, must be submitted to go2HR. You should receive your SIR certificate in the mail within 2 weeks of successfully completing the exam. Cheque, money order, Visa, and MasterCard are accepted. Cash and debit are accepted only for payments made directly at the go2HR office.