Wholesale of alcoholic beverages 1 (3) _____________________________________________________________________________ Wholesale of alcoholic beverages 8.1.2007 D no. 38/43/2007 The holder of a production or wholesale licence for alcoholic beverages granted by the the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (VALVIRA) can exercise the wholesale of alcoholic beverages. The licence can be granted to a person who is considered to meet the necessary preconditions and reliability for the activities. The licence is valid for the ongoing future or a fixed term. A licence for the ongoing future is valid for as long as the applicant is seen to fulfil the preconditions for wholesale. During the validity of the licence, VALVIRA monitors that the activities are carried out in accordance with the provisions. Further provisions on keeping the licence valid have been given in the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health Decision (STMp) on the preconditions and applicants’ necessary reliability for the production licence, import licence and wholesale licence of alcoholic beverages and spirits. Charges Further provisions on the charges and discounts are given under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health Decree (STMa 1395/2006). The licence holders’ duties and responsibilities The licence holder is obliged to inform the VALVIRA if changes to the licence holder’s details and activities (e.g. name, partners, holdings, discontinued business activities, address or location of the store) occur; this can be carried out for example on the VALVIRAs appeal application form. During the validity of the wholesale licence, the licence holder guarantees that they hold the necessary preconditions and required reliability for these activities. Product Control The wholesaler of alcoholic beverages is responsible for the quality and composition of the alcoholic beverage they deliver for consumption and that the labelling and other presentation are in accordance with the issued provisions. The following guidelines issued by the VALVIRA assist the licence holder in the product control of alcoholic beverages • • • • Guidelines for a self-control plan for wholesale licence holders Guidelines on alcohol advertising Label markings for wines Monitoring organically produced alcoholic beverages Separate provisions on certain alcoholic beverages’ composition and labelling have not been issued under alcohol legislation; in these cases alcoholic beverage practices follow the food legislations requirements for food stuffs issued under section 3 subsection 2 of the Food Act (361/1995). Storing Alcoholic beverages can be temporarily stored free of excise duty in stores which have been approved by the VALVIRA and the customs authorities. Changes such as location or extension to the store must always be reported to theVALVIRA. Provisions for the application of tax-free Wholesale of alcoholic beverages 2 (3) _____________________________________________________________________________ storage of alcoholic beverages have been issued under section 30 of the Decree on Alcoholic Beverages and Spirits (1344/1994). The VALVIRA does not give a separate approval on taxed stores but the same guidelines apply to those as do to tax-free stores; that means that the trader has to ensure that the following are attended to: locking, personnel access, patrolling, alarm, inventory, bookkeeping and reporting. If the licence holder has both a taxed and taxfree store, their boundaries have to be clearly marked, and they have to have separate product bookkeeping. Wholesale The licence holder can sell the products only to the holders of a licence granted by the VALVSIRA or the State Provincial Office and from the tax-free store as so called special sales which are in accordance with the licence conditions. The seller has to always ensure that the buyer has a licence authorising them to buy the beverage. The seller has to check the licence number, the extent of the licence (which product groups the customer is entitled to buy or if the licence is, for example, an A, B or C-licence) and that the licence is valid. If the buyer has a variety of different kinds of licence, the seller has to check for what purpose the purchases are made (i.e. a restaurant might have a licence to purchase alcoholic beverages for dispensing or for kitchen alcohol usage). The seller has to also monitor that customers’ purchase quota for kitchen alcohol is not exceeded. Only beverages from a tax-free store can be sold to customers with a licence for kitchen alcohol. Valid (note particularly fixed-term licences), amended and closed licences as well as licences with a ban on sales have to be checked from theVALVIRA’s licence register on its website www.valvira.fi. Guidelines for how to use theVALVIRA’s licence register are available in the Internet instructions. Bookkeeping and reporting The VALVIRA’s licence conditions require that the company’s bookkeeping and reporting are organised in a way which enables efficient monitoring at all times. The licence holder has to use a bookkeeping system which includes store and sales bookkeeping. The store bookkeeping has to be based on product-specific and real-time information. Sales bookkeeping has to combine the customer and product register information. The trader must once a month (latest on the 18th of the month) declare the previous month’s delivery information to theVALVIRA. All new products entering the market and products which have been withdrawn from the market have to be immediately reported to theVALVIRA. In addition, the VALIVRA has to be informed on the 18th of September at the latest on the store situation of grape wines at the 31st July. Further information on reporting is available at the Guidelines for wholesale reporting. Advertising Provisions on advertising and other promotion of alcoholic beverages have been issued under section 33 of the Alcohol Act. An alcoholic beverage bottle’s illustration is part of sales promotion directed at consumers; its aim is that consumers take notice of the product and to distinguish the product from other products. The label works both as the source of product information and an advertising surface. Hence, a label can also be evaluated in accordance with the advertising provisions of the Alcohol Act. The VALVIRA has defined the advertising provisions of the Alcohol Act in its guidelines on alcohol advertising (D no. 2/02/99) Wholesale of alcoholic beverages 3 (3) _____________________________________________________________________________ The VALVIRA’s supervision and consequences of violations In accordance with sections 41, 43 and 44 of the Alcohol Act, the VALVIRA supervises the licence holders in issues mentioned above. The VALVIRA is authorised to check the licence holder’s premises and activities and documents related to alcohol trading. The activities and premises have to be planned in a way which enables efficient supervision; for example, it has to be possible to find out the amount of alcoholic beverages in the stores at any time. The quality, composition and labelling of products in the market are constantly monitored. In addition, the VALVIRA is authorised to take and receive samples free-of-charge from the licence holder’s store for supervisory purposes. Also included in the monitoring process is theVALVIRA’s register of the licence holders and products in the Finnish market as well as their sales volumes by delivery channels. The delivery information received from the wholesalers is used to monitor the legality of the activities and to build up statistics of the consumption of different product groups. In accordance with the provisions of the Alcohol Act, the VALVIRA cannot give an approval of the products in advance. If the alcoholic beverages or their presentation do not comply with the issued provisions and regulation, the VALVIRA may prohibit placing the alcoholic beverage on the market or without compensation oblige the wholesaler to remove the product from the market. The tasks of the VALVIRA include monitoring that the wholesale licence holder’s responsibilities are fulfilled. In addition, it may lay down necessary conditions for the supervision of the wholesale trade. The VALVIRA can cancel a wholesale licence without compensation for a fixed period or permanently if the prescribed provisions, regulations, restrictions or conditions are not observed or the licence holder is considered to no longer fulfil the conditions necessary for the licence or have lost their reliability. Appeals to the VALVIRA’s decision Appeals on the VALVIRA’s decisions can be directed to the Supreme Administrative Court in whose judicial district the applicant resides. An exception to this are those decisions for which in section 52 of the Alcohol Act provision on prohibition against appeal has been issued (prohibition decisions, temporary prohibitions and imposing a fine or threat referred to in sections 4850); these are referred to the Market Court. For further information on the VALVIRA: tel: +358 9 7729 2461. Website www.valvira.fi also features guidelines and application forms regarding alcohol business activities.