ABC Tennessee Alcohol Responsibility Act for Server Card/Permit

The Alcohol Server Responsibility Act of 1995 requires servers of alcohol to successfully complete an alcohol awareness class certified by the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission. This class must be a minimum of 5 hours instructional classroom time. Instructional time does not including breaks or testing.

The primary legislative purpose of the Alcohol Server and Responsibility Act of 1995 is to prevent intoxication related deaths, injuries, and other damages through responsible serving practices and awareness.

The successful completion of a class (a score of at least 70% unless company requirements are higher) makes a server eligible for a (5) year permit issued by the TABC. TopShelf RBS requires a score of at least 80% on the exam.

The TABC requires the trainer conducting the class to pay a $15.00 certification fee for each student.
If a student should not pass the exam they are allowed 30 days in which they can re-take the exam at no charge. If the exam is not re-taken within the 30-day period they must pay for, and retake the class.

If it can be proven that an individual has successfully completed a Commission certified program in another state within one (1) year from the date of application, then the Commission shall recognize such training. The server is responsible for paying the $15.00 certification fee.

To apply for a permit, a TABC Server application and a copy of your photo ID must be completed on line at . The applicant must  pay a $20.00 application fee by Credit Card when filling out the TABC Application.

A server is not eligible for a permit if they:

  • Have been convicted of a felony in the previous 4 years.**
  • In the previous (8) years, been convicted of:
    Any crime relating to the sale, distribution, or dispensing of alcoholic beverages, schedule 1 or 2 controlled
    substances, or controlled substance analogues, embezzlement, or any sex related crime.**
  • Are on judicial diversion for any of the above. If a permit is lost the TABC will no longer issue a replacement copy or new permit to anyone on judicial diversion until such diversion is completed and court disposition papers can be provided with the application.
  • Have had any permit issued in other jurisdictions revoked in the previous (5) years.
  • Had ownership or interest in an establishment in which the license was revoked in the previous (8) years.
  • Are not at least 18 years old.
  • Do not have a valid social security number or work permit number belonging to themselves.

** During the time your permit is valid, if you convicted of one of these offenses your 5-Year TABC Server Permit is subject to revocation!!

Servers may work for up to 61 days without a valid TABC Server Permit. This grace period begins on the hire
date or date of transferring to a serving position and the date must be documented. This grace period does not apply to anyone that has previously served liquor by the drink in TN or has ever been issued a TABC Server Permit.

On-premise consumption licensees should maintain and have available for review on the premises documentation of the date of hire for anyone working in a capacity to serve alcoholic beverages. Acceptable documentation shall include a dated application for employment or a dated W-4 form. If the licensee does not have acceptable documentation of the date of hire for the employee, then it will be deemed that the employee has worked at the licensed premises greater than sixty-one (61) days.

There is no grace period when a TABC Server Permit expires. A server must attend another class in order to receive a new permit prior to the expiration date. If a permit is lost which is still valid, contact the TABC office closest to you.

The 5-year permit issued by the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission is the only permit allowing anyone to serve alcohol in Tennessee. The certificate you receive for successfully completing Top Shelf Responsible Beverage Service is merely proof you attended and successfully completed an alcohol awareness program, not a permit to serve liquor, wine or high gravity beers.

A copy of the 5-year permit must be readily available either by the server or the establishment for inspection at any time by an agent of the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission. The TABC may also ask for a photo ID.