12 Questions About the Smart Serve Certification Test

  • By: BT Staff
  • Date: February 26, 2024
  • Time to read: 4 min.

What is Smart Serve?

Smart Serve (or SmartServe Ontario) was created with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) in 1995 to provide responsible alcohol beverage service training for the Ontario hospitality industry.

Who Needs Smart Serve Certification?

Smart Serve is now required for anyone working where alcohol is sold, served, delivered or handled. All staff, managers, licensees, and security must be certified and carry Smart Serve cards.

Where Is It Valid?

Smart Serve is an Ontario program, so it’s only valid in Ontario. Other provinces have their certification programs, such as Serving it Right in BC and ProServe in Alberta, but the programs’ aim is similar: to teach staff how to serve alcohol responsibly to the public.

If you are interested in bartending in Alberta, we’ve written a guide to ProServe and one for Serving it Right here, which is required in BC. For a complete guide to licences needed in Canada, see this guide to Canadian licencing requirements.

Even if you’re looking to become a Cicerone (or “beer sommelier”), you will still be required to have Smart Serve to work in a restaurant. If you are interested, we’ve written an article on the Cicerone exam here.

I Have a Serving Licence From Outside Ontario. Can I Use That Instead?

Smart Serve is the only program approved by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). You will need to be Smart Serve certified to work in Ontario. However, much of the material covered on the test will be familiar (underage drinking, handling intoxicated patrons, etc.) if you have been certified in another North American jurisdiction.

How Old Do You Have To Be To Take the Smart Serve Test?

There is no age limit. However, you must be 18 years to serve alcohol or become a bartender in Ontario.

Do Smart Serve Certificates Expire?

Yes, if you have a certificate dated before July 1, 2018, you will need to re-certify before June 2023. New certificates will last for five years. More information can be found on the Smart Serve website.

How Long Do I Have To Get My Smart Serve After Being Hired?

You are required by law to have your certification by the 1st day of work.

How Much Does Smart Serve Certification Cost?

The Smart Serve course costs $44.95 and includes two test attempts.

If you are already certified, the course costs $29.95. This is the full course and includes two test attempts.

What Do I Need To Take My Smart Serve Certification Test Online?

You can take the exam on a computer or a mobile device. For a computer, it’s recommended you have Chrome (or Firefox). You can check if your computer meets the requirements by going to: www.smartserve.ca/proctoring-exams and clicking on the online tool.

What Languages is the Smart Serve Test Available In?

The online training and test are fully translated (text, video, audio) into six languages: English, French, Chinese, Korean, Punjabi, and Spanish.

How Long Does the Test Take, and What’s the Passing Mark?

The training course and test take approximately 3-4 hours. Once you’ve taken the training, the test can take 30-45 minutes.

If you receive 80% or higher and pass the integrity check, you will receive an email, and your Smart Serve certificate will be available in your online account for downloading or printing at home

If I’ve Lost My Smart Serve Card, How Much Is It To Replace It?

As of October 25, 2021, replacement cards will no longer be printed and mailed.

You can view, save, download, or print your Smart Serve certificate (eCertificate) from your online account.

For more information on SmartServe and alcohol serving in Ontario, see the FAQ on the SmartServe website.

For more information, we’ve written an article about becoming a bartender in Ontario.

Schools Offering Smart Serve Certification Training

Note: Since the online testing release, several locations may no longer offer in-class testing.

We also have a guide here to Toronto bartending schools that covers schools and mixology classes.

Loyalist College – Bancroft CampusBancroft (613) 332-1743
Sault College – Employment SolutionsBlind River (705) 356-1611
Georgian CollegeBracebridgeTerri Plaxton-Smith(705) 646-7629 ext 4813
St. Clair CollegeChathamDoris Summerfield(519) 354-9100 ext 3260
Georgian CollegeCollingwood (705) 445-2961 ext 2900
Mohawk CollegeHamiltonBonnie Pataran(905) 575-2307
Northern CollegeKirkland LakeGlenda Jackson(705) 567-9291 ext 3624
Bartender OneToronto (416) 461-4441 ext 4203
iTrain – Workplace and Hospitality TrainingTorontoJesse Prasad(647) 477-7978
Toronto Institute of BartendingToronto (416) 862-7272
FoodPrep IncTorontoMelanie Myers(416) 838-2032
St. Clair CollegeWindsorContinuing Education(519) 972-2711

Other Organizations Offering Smart Serve Certification Training

Focus Community Development OrganizationAllistonLisa Griffin(705) 435-9821 ext 137
Employment Help CentreBeamsvillePat Stewart(905) 563-9675 ext 2221
Community Employment ServicesBelleville (613) 966-0205
bradfordWORKS-Community Employment ServicesBradfordMartha Greig(905) 778-9058
John Howard Society of Peel-Halton-DufferinBramptonReception(905) 459-0111 ext 317
Employment and Education CentreBrockvilleLesley Cameron(613) 498-2111 ext 222
Town of Bracebridge – Recreation DepartmentBracebridgeChristine Cousins(705) 645-3037 ext 237
Town of CollingwoodCollingwoodMichelle Kusiar(705) 445-9463 ext 3286
Campbellford Community Resource CentreCampbellfordCarolyn Anderson(705) 653-5161 ext 220
London Training CentreLondonKristie Balatsoukas(519) 685-4331 ext 225
John Howard SocietyOshawaSarah Van Niedek(905) 579-8482 ext 240
Employment Planning and CounsellingPeterboroughJessica Deans(705) 748-9110
Goodwill Future FocusChathamReception(519) 354-5888 ext 240
Job GymSt Catharines (905) 682-8372
Aboriginal Career & Employment Ne-Chee FriendshipKenoraPatti Fairfield/Sherry(807) 468-5440
Keys Job CentreKingston (613) 546-5559
On Track Employment ResourcesSmith Falls (613) 283-6978
Town of Richmond HillRichmond HillMichael Watson(905) 884-0855 ext 220
Yes Employment ServicesThunder BaySharon Kovacic(807) 624-1960
Municipality of Chatham-KentTilburyRob Veccia(613) 283- 6978
Employment SolutionsWellandIna(905) 788-3751
Insight Advantage IncWindsorTabitha Hicks(519) 254-1445 ext 101
Unemployed Help CentreWindsorElla/Patti(519) 944-4900 ext 113/103

For the full, up-to-date list of schools, see https://smartserve.ca/in-class-training.