Located on Canada’s west coast, the Province of British Columbia is home to Vancouver, Canada’s third largest city, and some of the best nightlife in Canada. To work in the hospitality industry as a bartender or server, you must have a valid SIR (Serving It Right) certification.
What Is the Serving It Right Certification?
Everyone who works with setting alcohol to the public in British Columbia must complete Serving It Right (SIR) certification, which promotes responsible alcohol sales and service. The goal of SIR is to ensure that alcohol is served and sold legally and in a way that protects patrons, guests, and other people from potential risks associated with alcohol consumption. Similar responsible liquor service initiatives exist in other provinces, such as Alberta’s ProServe and Ontario’s SmartServe.
You can take the training and exam at any age; however, you need to be 16 in British Columbia to serve alcohol.
How Long Does It Take To Get Your Serving It Right Certification?
The course is available online from the government of BC’s Responsible Service website. It takes approximately four hours to complete and covers topics including:
- Signs of intoxication. How does alcohol affect the body and people’s behaviour, and how to tell if a customer is likely intoxicated?
- Legal liability. What are your legal responsibilities when selling and serving alcohol at an establishment or event?
- Reducing alcohol over-consumption. How to reduce chances of activities like binge drinking.
- Reducing impaired driving.
- Reducing the risk of violence and other illegal activities that can occur in bars.
- Preventing the sale of alcohol to a minor.
- Duty of care on and off premises.
- Working with your team to create and enforce responsible beverage service.
After you have completed the training, you can sign-up to take the exam. The Serving It Right exam is also done online and will cost $35 (plus GST) for three attempts. Payments are made through the website using credit cards or Visa debit cards.
Currently, the SIR exam is a multi-choice exam with 38 random questions given in English. You need to get at least 80% of them right to pass and receive your Serving It Right Certification. There is no time limit, so you can pause and continue it later. If you do not pass on your third attempt, you’ll need to pay another $35 to have another three attempts.
Upon completing the exam, you will get your SIR certificate number and the option to print out your certificate from your computer. There is no longer an option to get a physical card mailed to you.
Serving It Right Renewals
Your Serving It Right certification lasts five years from your exam date. To renew it, you’re required to take the test again.
Similar certificates like BC’s Special Event Server certificate also expire after five years.
Where Do You Need SIR to Serve Alcohol in British Columbia?
Much like other Candian alcohol serving programs, all people involved in selling alcohol to the public, from servers to bartenders as well as managers and licence holders, must be SIR certified.
Some people may decide to take a bartending course, but your SIR certification is the only certification required.
Special Events Certification
For special events, there is also a “junior” version of the Serving It Right certificate for staff at events requiring a Special Events Permit. The event’s size determines who needs to be certified and who needs a full SIR certification or a Special Events Certification.
Getting a Special Events Certification is similar to getting a SIR certification, but the training and the exam are shorter. You can find information on who needs certification and how to take the exam here.
Can You Use Serving It Right in Other Provinces?
Currently, the BC Serving It Right is only valid in British Columbia. You must take their exams if you plan to work in Alberta or Ontario. The good news is that all these programs are quite similar, and the training and exam are fully online. The costs for taking these exams are also roughly the same.
What about Serve It Right Certification?
Despite the similar name, Serve It Right Saskatchewan (SIRS) is a different program, and you need to complete the exam to work in Saskatchewan.
To work as a bartender or server in British Columbia, you’ll need to be certified with a Serving It Right certificate. The good news is that you can probably complete the training and exam within a day as all the material is online.