Frequently asked questions

In this page you can find frequently asked questions and answers to them.

Alcohol

You may apply for an alcohol retail trade licence for beverages with an alcohol content of no more than 5.5% to sell indoors on your licensed premises. The alcoholic beverages must be the same that your customers may consume in your restaurant. 

You may only sell alcoholic beverages to take away in pre-filled, sealed packages. You may only bottle alcoholic beverages at an approved production site, and you need a licence for producing alcoholic beverages.

Alcoholic beverages with an alcohol content of more than 2.8% may be sold to take away only between 09.00 and 21.00.

Customers who have bought alcoholic beverages to take away are not allowed to drink them on your licensed premises or in its immediate vicinity.

As a rule, alcohol retail trade licences are not granted for events that have an alcohol serving licence. An exception to this are presentation events organised by several producers of alcoholic beverages (e.g. beer festivals), which may be granted an alcohol retail trade licence.

We charge an annual enforcement fee for the retail sale of alcoholic beverages. Other provisions on the retail sale of alcoholic beverages also apply to retail sales in licensed premises.

Read more about retail sales on our website.

You may buy the alcoholic beverages you sell on your licensed premises from:
•    a producer
•    a wholesaler
•    a retailer.

As the licence holder, you may also import alcoholic beverages to Finland for serving on licensed premises. You must notify the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) before you begin importing. Read more about the import notification on Valvira’s website. You must notify Valvira and Customs of all imported items for taxation.

Read more about the import notification on Valvira's website

On your licensed premises, you may only sell alcoholic beverages that have been lawfully purchased for the premises. For example, it is not permitted to consume alcoholic beverages brought in by customers to private events. An example of this would be toasting at a wedding with champagne brought by customers from abroad.

If you have an alcohol serving licence, you must periodically send us the notifications and information that: 

  • apply to your sales and other activities 
  • are necessary for the supervision and risk assessment of your activities. 

What matters do I inform you about?

You must inform us of the value of your sales subject to an alcohol serving licence and of the number of staff. You must submit this notification for each licence.

If your licensed premises also have retail sales of alcohol, you must provide the amount of retail sales in litres and the value in euros.

When do I file a notification?

You need to file a report twice a year:

  • Report the sales for January–June by the end of July.
  • Report the sales for July–December by the end of January.

When you purchase alcoholic beverages using a licence number (e.g. from a brewery or wholesaler), your purchase information is automatically forwarded to the Regional State Administrative Agency. 

If you purchase alcoholic beverages from a retailer (e.g. grocery stores) for serving alcohol, you must notify us of these purchases twice a year. Submit the notification at the same time with your notification of serving alcohol.

You must always submit the aforementioned notifications by the deadline, even if you have had no sales during the reporting period.

Submit the notification online

You can fill in and submit the notification form online. The information is stored in the Alcohol Trade Register. There is a link to the online form at the bottom of this page.

The Regional State Administrative Agencies enforce the serving of alcoholic beverages. Our licensing and enforcement work is coordinated by the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira). Our aim is to apply the same procedures all across the country. We are developing the enforcement activities with a national enforcement programme. Read more about enforcement on our website. 

National enforcement programme (in Finnish)

Read more about enforcement

As the licence holder, you must inform the Regional State Administrative Agency of any changes in your operations.  

If changes occur in the ownership of the company holding the licence or in control of the management of the company, we must be notified of the changes within two weeks.

If significant changes occur in your operations, you must notify the Regional State Administrative Agency of these before the changes enter into force. Such changes include things like planning changes for your serving area. 

You must also notify us if you transfer your business to another company or a private trader or if your business ID changes. In this case, the successor to your business must apply for a new alcohol serving licence. The new business owner will not be allowed to sell alcoholic beverages until they have been granted a new licence for the premises. 

If you discontinue serving of alcoholic beverages, notify us within two weeks.

Aldo chatbot is our customer adviser for alcohol licences, offering customer service around the clock. 

Aldo chatbot

Serving alcohol in an approved licensed area:

  • Video 1: Approval of licensed areas. What do I need to do and know?
  • Video 2: Submitting an alcohol serving notification for a previously approved licensed area
  • Watch videos 1 and 2 on Youtube

Self-regulation for serving alcohol:

  • Video 1: Why is the self-regulation plan necessary and to whom should I send it?
  • Video 2: What to include in the self-regulation plan for the premises
  • Video 3: Impacts and risks of operations and preparing for them
  • Video 4: Staff participating in the self-regulation plan
  • Video 5: Serving alcohol responsibly
  • Watch videos 1-5 on Youtube

Alko has the exclusive right in Finland to sell beverages with an alcohol content of more than 5.5%. The exception to this is that besides Alko, fruit wines and craft beers may be sold by parties that have been granted a licence to produce and sell these products on the production premises.

We approve Alko points of retail sale upon application. If the location would cause undue harm to the neighbourhood, we will not approve it.

Alcoholic beverages purchased from Alko can also be collected from sites other than Alko shops. Such sites must have a collection point agreement with Alko. Alcoholic beverages may only be delivered to a collection point if a customer has ordered them specifically for delivery to that collection point. The alcoholic beverages may only be handed over to the buyer or to a person authorised by the buyer. 

Alko may sell alcoholic beverages in vehicles and vessels used as mobile shops on regular routes confirmed by the Regional State Administrative Agency.

Alko may hold auctions where alcoholic beverages are sold.

Alko may also engage in wholesale trade of alcoholic beverages. Alko may send alcoholic beverages to licence holders and other traders who have purchased them.

You will need an alcohol retail trade licence if you sell solid products which have an alcohol content of more than 2.8% by weight and which are intended for consumption as is or can be made into beverages by separating their ingredients or adding liquids. These products must be sold in accordance with the same rules that apply to the sale of alcoholic beverages.

Under an alcohol retail trade licence, you may sell alcoholic products with a maximum alcohol content of 5.5% by weight, such as chocolate confectionery or ice cream. Read more about alcoholic products on the website of the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira).

Read more about alcoholic products on the website of the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira)

 

As an alcohol retail trade licence holder, you may accept orders and payments for alcoholic beverages in your online store. However, you may only deliver alcoholic beverages to the customer indoors at your point of retail sale between 09.00 and 21.00. 

You must notify the Regional State Administrative Agency before introducing a service for ordering and delivery.

The Regional State Administrative Agencies enforce the retail sale of alcoholic beverages. Our licensing and enforcement work is coordinated by the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira). Our aim is to apply the same procedures all across the country. We are improving our enforcement activities with a national enforcement programme. 

Read more about enforcement on our website.

No. As the licence holder, you are not allowed to deliver alcoholic beverages to your customer’s home or have them delivered by some other means, such as by taxi. You must deliver alcoholic beverages to customers at your point of sale.

You may use a self-service checkout to sell alcoholic beverages. However, you must verify the age of customers who look like they might be under the age limit. You must also ensure that the customer is not clearly intoxicated or purchasing beverages to pass them on to a child or an intoxicated person.

Before you introduce self-service checkouts, you must inform the Regional State Administrative Agency of this change in your activities. The Regional State Administrative Agency approves the sales arrangements of self-service checkouts on a case-by-case basis and sets their licence conditions.

As the licence holder of an alcohol retail trade licence, you must periodically send us notifications and information that:

  • apply to your sales and other activities
  • are necessary for the supervision and risk assessment of your activities.

You must notify us once a year of the value of your sales of alcoholic beverages and foods. You must submit this notification separately for each licence. Each licence holder must submit this information to the Regional State Administrative Agency by the end of January.

You can fill in and submit the notification form online. The information is stored in the Alcohol Trade Register. There is a link to the online form at the bottom of this page. You must always submit the aforementioned notifications by the deadline, even if you have had no sales during the reporting period.

It is important for the industry as a whole that we receive that information. It can be used to monitor developments in the industry and to combat the shadow economy and financial crime.

As the licence holder, you must inform the Regional State Administrative Agency of any changes in your operations. 

If changes occur in the ownership of the company holding the licence or in control of the management of the company, we must be notified of the changes within two weeks.

If significant changes occur in your operations, you must notify the Regional State Administrative Agency of these before the changes enter into force. Such changes include things like the introduction of self-service checkouts or an online shop. 

You must also notify us if you transfer your business to another company or a private trader or if your business ID changes. In this case, the successor to your business must apply for a new alcohol retail trade licence. The new business owner will not be allowed to sell alcoholic beverages until they have been granted a new licence for the premises.

If you discontinue the retail sale of alcoholic beverages, notify us within two weeks.

At your point of retail sale, you may sell alcoholic beverages with an alcohol content of more than 2.8% between 09.00 and 21.00. 

  • If your shop is closed at or by 21.00 with no new customers admitted after 21.00, you will not be in breach of the time limit even if the customers already in the shop make their purchases of alcohol after the closing time.
  • If your shop stays open later than 21.00, you basically must not sell alcoholic beverages after 21.00.
    • However, if you have confirmed that the customer has taken possession of their alcoholic beverages before the specified time, you may sell them to the customer. For example, alcoholic beverages may be sold to customers who have joined a checkout queue before 21.00, regardless of how long it takes for them to reach the cashier.
  • It is easier to comply with the regulations if you close off the shelves and cold cabinets containing alcoholic beverages at the aforementioned time. Make sure you clearly inform your customers of the times during which alcoholic beverages may be sold.

Drinks with an alcohol content of more than 1.2% must not be sold to persons under 18 years of age. Drinks with an alcohol content of more than 22% must not be sold to persons under 20 years of age.

Alcoholic beverages must not be sold to a person who is clearly intoxicated.

You must not sell alcoholic beverages to a customer if there is reason to believe that they will pass the beverages on to someone else who is clearly intoxicated or under the age of 18.

Consumption of alcohol at the point of retail sale or in its immediate vicinity is prohibited. It is the responsibility of the licence holder and the staff to ensure that the prohibition is complied with. If necessary, the licence holder must mark the area in which alcoholic beverages must not be consumed. Such areas include tables in the immediate vicinity, indoors or outdoors.

You may only sell alcoholic beverages in pre-filled, sealed packages.

As the licence holder, you are responsible for ensuring that each shift is adequately staffed. Employees must not be under the influence of alcohol or any other intoxicating substances.

There must be a person in charge aged 18 or older present at the point of sale for retail sales. As the licence holder, you must organise the supervision of sales in such a way that the person in charge is able to effectively supervise the sales process and, if necessary, intervene in it. A person aged 16 or over may only sell alcoholic drinks under the supervision of an adult person in charge.

You must not sell alcoholic beverages at a bulk discount. Offering two or more packages of alcoholic beverage at a joint discount price is prohibited. A single alcoholic beverage must not be more expensive to buy than an item of the same size in a multi-package.

A discounted price for a package of alcoholic beverages that is valid for less than two months must not be advertised anywhere except indoors at your point of sale. Short-term discount prices must thus not be advertised in magazines or online publications, etc. 

Alcohol marketing

You are allowed to sell only those alcoholic beverages which you are licensed to sell at your point of sale. You must buy them quoting the licence number of your shop from a producer or wholesaler of alcoholic beverages.

If you have several points of sale, you must buy alcoholic beverages separately for each location quoting their respective licence numbers.

You may also import alcoholic beverages for retail sale at your own point of sale. However, before you begin importing, you must notify the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) that you are an importer of alcoholic beverages.

Animals

If you provide slaughtering services at home, you are required to have a certificate of competence to slaughter or kill animals.

Fur animals must be killed in the presence and under the immediate supervision of a person who has been issued a certificate of competence to slaughter or kill animals. 

The certificate of competence to slaughter or kill animals must cover the methods of killing and the species of animals covered in the presence of this person.

You need a certificate of competence to slaughter or kill animals, if you work with animals in a slaughterhouse at some point of the slaughtering process, all the way from the slaughterhouse barn to the bleeding of the animal.

So, you need a certificate when you perform the following procedures related to slaughtering:

  • handle or care for animals before they are restrained
  • restrain animals for the purpose of stunning or killing them
  • stun animals
  • assess the effect of stunning
  • shackle or hoist live animals
  • bleed live animals
  • slaughter animals by use of special methods prescribed by a religion.

Without a certificate of competence to slaughter or kill animals you are not allowed to perform the tasks mentioned above in a slaughterhouse.

The municipal veterinarian conducts inspections where the activities of killing and slaughtering animals are supervised.

An animal must be killed in such a way as to avoid any pain, distress and suffering possible.

The requirements determined in the Animal Welfare Act must be taken into consideration. The allowed killing and slaughtering methods for different animals have been set forth in the legislation.

You are allowed to store embryos:

  • in the facility of the embryo production team
  • in the facility of the embryo collection team
  • in an approved sperm collection station
  • in an approved sperm storage.

You are allowed to store sperm:

  • in an approved sperm collection station
  • in an approved sperm storage
  • in the facility of an approved embryo production team.

An exception to the above is that sperm and embryos can be stored in the location where animals are kept, where they are used for artificial propagation of animals owned by or in possession of the business operator.

You are also allowed to store sperm for the insemination of horses to be performed in Finland.

Oiva system for food control

Oiva is a public access system for publishing food control reports, coordinated by the Finnish Food Authority. The results of food business control are published as soon as the authorities have completed the reporting. The results are published on a website using a scale of smileys. To search for Oiva reports by company name or address or by local authority, go to Oivahymy.fi.

Deposits

You cannot make a deposit for the sole reason of stopping the accumulation of interest. There must always be a legitimate reason, such as a court order. 

Each case is unique. Requests that force us to make further enquiries take longer to process. It is therefore important that you send us all the relevant documents with your deposit registration form.

The minimum charge for making a deposit is EUR 180, but deposits can always be withdrawn free of charge. 

The deadline for withdrawing deposits held by Regional State Administrative Agencies in relation to shares in the Helsinki Telephone Association expired in 2016. You therefore can no longer ask for disbursement.

Making a deposit is a two-stage process. In addition to paying the funds into the competent Regional State Administrative Agency’s account, you also need to register your deposit. Use our deposit registration form or our e-service. Alternatively, you can explain your circumstances in your own words. Make sure that you include at least the information requested in the registration form.

If a deposit has accrued interest, we disburse the interest with the capital to the person who makes the withdrawal.

The bank where the Finnish Government has its accounts wants to make sure that Regional State Administrative Agencies are used for money laundering purposes. We therefore ask you about the origin of your funds and for your personal identity code. The bank only transfers the deposited funds into the account once it is satisfied with the origin of the funds.

Enforcement of care services for the elderly

Our enforcement practice is exactly the same for both private and municipal care institutions. However, the licensing procedure is different for private and municipal care institutions. We are the licensing authority for private service providers. Local authority units do not need to obtain a licence in this field.

We engage in systematic enforcement according to the social welfare and health care enforcement programme that we have devised jointly with the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) and the related regional implementation plans.

Enforcement is based on data collected from local authorities and social welfare service units. We may also, for instance, draw on studies conducted jointly by Valvira and the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) in enforcement. Regional characteristics such as individual care institutions are taken into account in the plans.

We direct local authorities in our areas of enforcement through means such as letters of instruction, dialogue, visits for steering and evaluation, and agreed inspections of nursing homes. We also conduct unannounced inspections. Some of our inspections are based on notifications that we receive.

In 2018, we received a total of 138 complaints about care services for the elderly. The outcome was ‘drawing the attention of the party to appropriate conduct’ in six cases and ‘expressing an opinion’ in three cases.

Additionally, 152 enforcement cases involving care services for the elderly were filed in 2018. Out of these, the outcome was ‘drawing the attention of the party to appropriate conduct’ in 20 cases, ‘expressing an opinion’ in eight cases, a reprimand in five cases and an improvement notice in 12 cases. In nine cases, it was decided to continue the enforcement process.

In all, 2,846 complaints on social welfare and health care issues were filed in 2018: 1,031 concerning social services and 1,815 concerning health care. Social services complaints included not only care services for the elderly but also topics such as informal care support, housing services, rehabilitation, services for children and families and services for the disabled.

In 2018, the most common reasons for complaints regarding care services for the elderly were:

  • the service provider had insufficient care personnel
  • personnel was lacking in professional competence
  • personnel turnover was high, resulting in quality and safety issues: shortcomings in basic care, quality of food, medication errors and other pharmaceutical issues
  • the institution provided little in stimulating activities and outdoor exercise
  • the care and service plans were poorly prepared and/or not up to date
  • self-regulation failings.

Local authorities are responsible for arranging services for the elderly. Local authorities are also responsible for enforcement of their own services and of outsourced services.

Local authorities must always notify the Regional State Administrative Agency for their region of any shortcomings or abuses found. Local authorities are also obliged to guide and advise service providers so as to cause any shortcomings to be rectified. Certain enforcement measures specified by law, such as suspending operations, can only be undertaken by the Regional State Administrative Agency or the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira). These measures are provided for in the Act on Private Social Services.

When a local authority acquires services from a private service provider, the local authority or joint municipal authority must ensure that the services outsourced are consistent with the level of quality required from an equivalent municipal operator.

A local authority is also responsible for enforcement in respect of any service unit of a private care service provider located in its municipality, regardless of whether the local authority is purchasing services from that unit or not. A municipal body (e.g. the social and health services board) shall direct and enforce private social services located in its municipality. What this means is that the local authority has the power to inspect a service unit in its municipality when there is justified cause for doing so. Such cause may be a written or verbal notification of a shortcoming found at that unit. A local authority may conduct unannounced inspections.

The Regional State Administrative Agency is responsible for enforcement of social services in its region. The National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) directs us in the management of our duties. The purpose of this direction is to harmonise the operating principles, procedures and decision-making practices of the Regional State Administrative Agencies.

Individual cases of enforcement come under the jurisdiction of Valvira when a case is of major importance in terms of scope or principle, or when a case concerns the domains of several Regional State Administrative Agencies or the entire country.

In the supervision of social welfare and health care professionals, Valvira handles cases where the right of a professional to practice may have to be suspended or removed. Valvira also investigates cases where treatment or neglect of treatment is suspected to have caused the death or serious injury of a patient. Some cases may be referred to Valvira simply because of a conflict of interest in investigating a matter in our region.

It is our responsibility to enforce the operations of providers of care services for the elderly. In some cases, if we consider it necessary or if a case is of national significance, we may refer the case to the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) for enforcement.

Local authorities are responsible for arranging care services for the elderly. They may provide these services themselves or outsource the services from a private-sector or third-sector service provider. In both cases, we enforce the operations of local authorities.

Service providers are responsible for ensuring that their services comply with the requirements imposed in their operating licence. Nursing home service providers are expected to self-regulate, this being the principal form of enforcement. The self-regulation plan must be publicly available, and it must be monitored. Care services for the elderly are secondarily enforced by local authorities, Regional State Administrative Agencies and the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira).

Local authorities are responsible for arranging the services and for enforcement of both its own and outsources services.

At the Regional State Administrative Agency, we enforce the arranging of services by local authorities and the operations of other public-sector and private-sector service providers.

The National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) is responsible for enforcement in cases that are of major importance in terms of scope or principle. We will forward a case to Valvira if necessary, according to the agreed division of duties.

The supreme overseers of legality in Finland are the Parliamentary Ombudsman and the Chancellor of Justice. If all legal avenues in Finland have been exhausted, official decisions may be appealed to the European Court of Human Rights.

Inspection visits generally involve a central government enforcement official and also local government enforcement officials.

It is the responsibility of the local authority or joint municipal authority to provide medical services for residents at assisted living units for the elderly. In the case of a private service provider, the local authority or joint municipal authority must agree with the service provider on how to arrange for medical services.

The need for providing medical services at assisted living units is always assessed on the basis of the needs of the residents. Medical services must be available whenever a customer needs them. Providing medical services as a remote consultation only is not sufficient in view of the rights of the patient.

Our information service may be busy at times due to a large number of contacts, the scope of the matters being handled, or other reasons. We aim to process requests for documents and information as fast as possible; in the case of publicly available information, this should never be later than two weeks after we receive the request. If a matter requires special measures or involves an unusual amount of work (because of the large number of documents involved, because of having to redact confidential information, or because of other equivalent reasons), then a response concerning a publicly available document should be given no later than one month after we receive the request.

In certain separately specified circumstances, we may charge a fee for the time spent in retrieving information and redacting confidential information before delivering documents. If your request is subject to a fee, we will give you a price estimate in advance.

In respect of the media, the aim is that questions from media representatives will be responded to by those officials who are the best informed in the matter at hand. Matters with high media interest often overload the relevant officials, and they must prioritise their enforcement duties above publicity demands.

Water

Naturally reclaimed land is a former water area that has permanently changed into land as a result of a decline in water levels, silting, weed infestation or postglacial rebound. In this way, an area of naturally reclaimed land is formed on the front of a property, which usually belongs not to the property but to the owner of the adjacent water area.  

Often the water area belongs to the joint property management association formed by the village residents fo manage the shared waters. If the naturally reclaimed land is detrimental to the appropriate use of the shore area or if it is a small area, the owner of the property adjoining it may, in most cases, purchase it for himself by applying to the National Land Survey of Finland for land division proceedings, i.e. the purchase of naturally reclaimed land. The purchase conditions, the area to be purchased and the compensation to be paid to the owner of the naturally reclaimed land are decided in the proceedings. 

Apply to the National Land Survey of Finland for land division proceedings, i.e. purchase of naturally reclaimed land (in Finnish)

A property may have a share in common areas. In other words, the property has a share in common areas created for the needs of two or more properties. The size of the shares in the common area may vary. Common areas include, for example, shared waters or common land areas, such as landing places for boats or gravel extraction sites. The property’s shares in common areas can be found in the land registry extract. 

 If you are not sure whether you need a permit or to which authority you should send your application, please contact your local Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment or the municipal environmental protection authority. These supervisory authorities provide relevant advice and, where appropriate, an opinion on the need for a permit. The Regional State Administrative Agency cannot comment on whether or not your project needs a permit.

Estate agents

You can apply to the Consumer Disputes Board or a district court for compensation for damages or for a reduction in the agent’s fees. 

The Consumer Disputes Board issues a recommendation for a decision, but it may reject the matter as inadmissible if you have not first contacted the consumer advice service to investigate the matter. 

We can give a warning to the agent if it doesn't comply the law. If the negligence is serious or if it is repeated despite an improvement notice or warning given, we may prohibit the operation of the agent in part or in full for a maximum period of 6 months. 

There is no registration obligation if your activities are occasional and you do not market your brokering services. However, you are allowed to market the properties you are brokering.