Alcohol retail trade licence

Serving alcoholic beverages with an alcohol content of over 2.8% is a licenced business activity.

As a trader, you will need a personal licence and a local licence for each place of business where alcohol is served.

Information on licences

We grant licences to adult natural persons or legal persons who meet the requirements laid down in the Alcohol Act. For example, the applicant must not be bankrupt and must be able to meet their financial obligations. Issues such as tax debts may prevent us from granting a licence.

If necessary, we will consult other authorities, such as the police or the tax administration, for their opinion. We may also ask you, as the applicant, to provide additional information.

We grant licences based on the overall consideration required in section 13 of the Alcohol Act.

Retail sales of alcoholic beverages are only allowed indoors. 
You may get an alcohol retail trade licence for selling beverages with an alcohol content of up to 5.5% for:

  • food shops
  • vehicles and vessels used as mobile shops
  • premises licensed to serve alcohol
  • premises where alcoholic beverages are produced.

You may also get an alcohol retail trade licence for premises producing fruit wines with an alcohol content of no more than 13% or premises producing craft beers with an alcohol content of no more than 12%.

Food shops

You may get an alcohol retail trade licence for selling beverages with a maximum alcohol content of 5.5% on the indoor premises of a food shop. Your shop must have a diverse range of day-to-day groceries. The sales of alcoholic beverages must not significantly exceed the sales of other foods. The main thing is that sales of alcoholic beverages may form part of your service to customers in a grocery shop but must not be its principal function.

Vehicles and vessels used as mobile shops

You may get an alcohol retail trade licence for selling beverages with a maximum alcohol content of 5.5% in a mobile shop in a vehicle or vessel that operates on a regular route confirmed by the Regional State Administrative Agency. Your mobile shop must offer a diverse range of day-to-day groceries.

Licensed premises

You may sell beverages with a maximum alcohol content of 5.5% for consumption off the premises in premises licensed to serve alcohol. You will, however, need a separate alcohol retail trade licence for this. The beverages must be the same as those offered at the restaurant.

Premises where alcoholic beverages are produced

You may get an alcohol retail trade licence for selling beverages with a maximum alcohol content of 5.5% on the premises where they are produced. As the licence holder, you are allowed to sell alcoholic beverages produced by you, and other alcoholic beverages, indoors at the production premises themselves. If you have an alcohol retail trade licence for production premises, you do not need to carry a range of groceries for sale as with a food shop.

Apply for a retail trade licence in the Alcohol Trade Register e-service at valvira.fi/allu. Using the e-service requires a business ID. When using the e-service on behalf of a company, you need to have the right to sign for the company or have a mandate to act on behalf of the company, granted by a person with the right to sign for the company. Mandates can be granted in the suomi.fi service (read more in Finnish at Suomi.fi-tunnistautuminen).

An application submitted in the Allu e-service is automatically referred to the correct Regional State Administrative Agency for processing.

You can also apply for a licence with a form. A link to the form is provided at the bottom of this page. 

Submit the completed form and supporting documents to the registry of the Regional State Administrative Agency. You can send them as an email attachment or put them in the post. Send your application to the registry of the Regional State Administrative Agency for the region where your place of business is located.

To make it easier for us to process your application, fill in the form carefully and send it with the necessary supporting documents. Once we have received all the information we need, we should be able to process your application in about one month. 

We may ask you to send additional information or to supplement your application.

If necessary, we will consult other authorities, such as the police and the tax administration, for their opinion on your application.

Sometimes we may also give the neighbours of your place of business an opportunity to comment on the pending application.

Every year, we collect an enforcement fee from each person holding a retail trade licence valid for an indefinite period. The fee is charged for each location.

We invoice the enforcement fees for retail trade licences every calendar year no later than by 30 April for licences that have been in force since 1 April. We do not collect the fees for the first calendar year.

The processing fees are fixed and binding. They are enforceable without a separate decision or judgment. The processing fee is invoiced by the Government Shared Services Centre for Finance and HR.

Price list: processing and enforcement fees

If you cancel your application or notification before it has been fully processed, the processing fee is half of the fee that would otherwise have been charged.

Self-regulation

Read more about self-regulation and preparing a self-regulation plan here: Self-regulation plan for alcohol sales

 

Fruit wines and craft beers

Fruit wines are alcoholic beverages with a maximum alcohol content of 13% made by fermentation from berries, fruit and other parts of plants, but not grapes or grains.

The production of fruit wines is subject to restrictions, such as: 

  • Fruit wine must be produced in production premises independent of other manufacturers of alcoholic beverages.
  • The production premises must be operated in connection with agriculture and physically separate from other premises where alcoholic beverages are manufactured.
  • Alcoholic beverages licensed from another producer must not be produced on the premises.
  • A maximum of 100,000 litres of alcoholic beverages may be produced during a calendar year.

Craft beers are alcoholic beverages with a maximum alcohol content of 12% that are made from grains. Seeds of other plants, sugar, hops and other plant parts and spices involved in the fermentation may be used in the production. 

The production of craft beers is subject to restrictions, such as:

  • Craft beers must be produced in a brewery that is independent of other manufacturers of alcoholic beverages.
  • The brewery must be physically separate from other manufacturers of alcoholic beverages.
  • Alcoholic beverages licensed from another producer must not be produced in the brewery.
  • A maximum of 500,000 litres of alcoholic beverages may be produced during a calendar year.

These restrictions also apply to the making of sahti.

Sales arrangements in the retail sales of alcohol

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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)

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.

Reports and notifications

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

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 changes occur in the ownership of the company holding the licence or if control over the management of the company undergoes changes, we will be notified of this automatically by the Finnish Patent and Registration Office. 

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

Submit the notification online (in Finnish)

Links to legal texts