Alcohol retail trade licence

The retail sale of beverages with an alcohol content of over 2.8% is a licensed business activity.

Apply for a licence from the Regional State Administrative Agency for the region where your premises are located. You will find the application forms at the bottom of this page. In 2021, we will introduce an e-transaction system for dealing with alcohol-related matters.

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.

Yes, you can. But we cannot grant an alcohol serving licence to a limited liability company, general partnership, limited partnership, co-operative or association until you have registered it.  However, you can submit your application to us immediately after you have received your business ID.

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.

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.

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.

Our licence processing fees are:

  • alcohol retail trade licence EUR 450
  • alcohol retail trade licence EUR 225, if
    a) the applicant already has a valid alcohol retail trade licence or alcohol serving licence
    b) the applicant applies for an alcohol retail trade licence and an alcohol serving licence at the same time
    or
    c) the applicant applies for several alcohol retail trade licences at the same time, in which case the full fee is charged for one licence and the reduced fee is charged for the additional licences
  • other retail trade licence EUR 225
  • decision on an amendment to an alcohol serving licence or alcohol retail trade licence EUR 160
  • approval of the location of an alcohol producer’s shop EUR 410
  • approval of a collection point EUR 410
  • confirmation of the regular route of an alcohol producer’s vehicle or vessel used as a mobile shop selling alcohol EUR 410.

If you cancel your application before it has been processed, we will charge a part of the fee that corresponds the amount of our work.

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.

We charge an annual enforcement fee from each retail shop selling alcohol.

Our enforcement fees:

  • annual enforcement fee charged from each point of sale for retail sales EUR 200
  • annual enforcement fee charged from an alcohol producer for each shop EUR 380.

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

When you have an alcohol serving licence or an alcohol retail trade licence, or you intend to apply for a licence, you must draw up a self-regulation plan for each of your locations. The self-regulation plan helps you and your staff to comply with the legislation on the sale of alcohol.

The self-regulation plan describes:

  • what adverse impacts alcohol may cause at your place of business
  • what procedures you have in place at your place of business
  • how you will correct any shortcomings identified in risk management.

Read more about self-regulation and about how to draw up a self-regulation plan

 

Frequently asked questions

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

Links to legal texts