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Bouncer Law

Regulation and Training

In many countries, a bouncer must be licensed and lacking a criminal record to gain employment within the security/crowd control sector. In some countries or regions, bouncers may be required to have extra skills or special licenses and certification for first aid, alcohol distribution, crowd control, or fire safety.

United States

Requirements for bouncers vary from state to state, with some examples being:


In California, Senate Bill 194 requires any bouncer or security guard to be registered with the State of California Department of Consumer Affairs Bureau of Security and Investigative Services. These guards must also complete a criminal background check, including submitting their fingerprints to the California Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Californians must undertake the "Skills Training Course for Security Guards" before receiving a security licence. Further courses allow for qualified security personnel to carry batons upon completion of training.

New York:

In New York State, it is illegal for a bar owner to knowingly hire a felon for a bouncer position. Under Article 7 General Business Law bars and nightclubs are not to allowed hire bouncer without a proper license. Under New York state law only a Private Investigator or Watch, Guard and Patrol Agency can supply security guards/bouncers to bars edit text.

Philadelphia, PA

Chapter 9-3600 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled “Bouncers,” to require that bouncers employed at covered establishments be registered and receive proper training, to prohibit employers from employing unregist under certain terms and conditions.

Other states tring to pass bouncer bills: Ohio, West VA, NC, MD

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Louisiana Senate Bill 234

Providence, Rhode Island

Section 1. It shall be unlawful for any person to work as a security guard, bouncer, door-keeper,
door-person, HOST or crowd controller in any retail establishment licensed to sell alcoholic
beverages in the City of Providence without registering with the Bureau of Licenses.\\

Greenville, NC

Title 11, Chapter 12 - Section 11-12-3(C) - No public or private club shall employ a person as a bouncer who has not completed a training programs for bouncers conducted by the police department.


In Canada, bouncers have the right to use reasonable force to expel intoxicated or aggressive patrons. First, the patron must be asked to leave the premises. If the patron refuses to leave, the bouncer can use reasonable force to expel the patron. This has been upheld in a number of court cases. Under the definition of 'reasonable force', "it is perfectly acceptable [for the bouncer] to grab a patron’s arm to remove the patron from the premises." However, "Only in situations where employees reasonably believe that the conduct of the patron puts them in danger can they inflict harm on a patron and then only to the extent that such force is necessary for self defence."

In Alberta, bar and nightclub security staff will have to take a new, government-run training course on correct bouncer behaviour and skills before the end of 2008. The six-hour 'ProTect' course will, among other subjects, teach staff to identify conflicts before they become violent, and how to defuse situations without resorting to force.

In Ontario, courts have ruled that "a tavern owes a twofold duty of care to its patrons. It must ensure that it does not serve alcohol which would apparently intoxicate or increase the patron's intoxication. As well, it must take positive steps to protect patrons and others from the dangers of intoxication." Regarding the second requirement of protecting patrons, the law holds that "customers cannot be ejected from your premises if doing so would put them in danger [e.g., due to the patron's intoxication]. Bars can be held liable for ejecting a customer who they know, or should know, is at risk of injury by being ejected."

In Ontario, bartenders and servers have to have completed the Smart Serve Training Program, which teaches them to recognise the signs of intoxication. The Smart Serve program is also recommended for other staff in bars who have contact with potentially intoxicated patrons, such as bouncers, coat check staff, and valets. The Smart Serve certification program encourages bars to keep Incident Reporting Logs, to use as evidence if an incident gets to court. With the August 2007 Private Security and Investigative Services Act, Ontario law also requires security industry workers, including bouncers to be licensed.

New Zealand

In New Zealand, there is no national-level regulation of bouncers as of 2006. The New Zealand Security Association supports the Hospitality Association of New Zealand's efforts to introduce certification for bouncers, doormen and other people responsible for security at bars and sporting events. The association argues that security officers should be "...properly trained professionals, not just a 'big thug' to stand at the door.", decrying the practice of using "unlicensed, untrained security staff". The organisation has been lobbying the New Zealand government to introduce legislation on training requirements for bar security staff.


Singapore requires all bouncers to undergo a background check and attend a 5-day 'National Skills Recognition System' course for security staff. However, many of the more professional security companies (and larger venues with their own dedicated security staff) have noted that the course is insufficient for the specific requirements of a bouncer and provide their own additional training.

United Kingdom

In the UK, bouncers (called 'door supervisors') must hold a license from the Security Industry Authority. The training for a door supervisor licence takes 30 hours, and includes issues such as behaviour, conflict management, civil and criminal law, searching and arrest procedures, drug awareness, recording of incidents and crime scene preservation, licensing law, equal opportunities and discrimination, health and safety at work, and emergency procedures. One current provider of training is the British Institute of Innkeeping Awarding Body.

Republic of Ireland

In the Republic of Ireland all potential doormen (Bouncers) must complete a FETAC level 4 course in Door Security Procedures, This allows them to apply for a PSA license (Private Security Authority) The PSA vet all applicants before issuing a license, Subsequently some past convictions will disqualify an applicant from working in the security industry. The license issued by the PSA entitles the holder of the license to work on pubs,clubs and event security.