Introduction Short screenings of alcohol-related dependence are needed for population-based assessments. A clinical interview constitutes a reliable diagnosis often seen as gold standard, but it is costly and time consuming and as such, not suitable for population-based assessments. Therefore, self-reported questionnaires are needed (eg, alcohol use disorder (AUD) as in the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) 5), but their reliability is questionable. Recent studies called for more evidence-based measurements for population-based screening (eg, heavy alcohol use over time (HAU)). This study aims to test the reliability of different self-reported measures of alcohol use. Methods and analysis Based on stratified random selection, 280 participants will be recruited from the French-speaking subgroup of the Swiss National Science Foundation-supported Cohort Study on Substance Use and Risk Factors (C-SURF). This cohort is a population-based sample of young Swiss men in their mid-20s (n=2668). The sample size calculation is based on a proportion non-inferiority test (alpha=5%, power=80%, margin of equivalence=10%, difference in sensitivity between selfreported AUD and HAU=5%, correlation between AUD and HAU=0.35, and drop-outs=15%). Assessment will include a clinical interview as the gold standard of alcohol-related dependence, self-reported alcohol measures (HAU, AUD and drinking patterns), biomarkers as gold standards of chronic excessive drinking, and health outcomes. To assess the validity of the self-reported alcohol measures, sensitivity analyses will be run. The associations between alcohol-related measures and health outcomes will be tested. A non-response analysis will be run using the previous waves of the C-SURF study using logistic regressions. Ethics and dissemination The study protocol has been approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee of the Canton of Vaud, Switzerland (no. 2017–00776). The results will be submitted for publication in peer-reviewed journals and presented at national and international conferences.