Alcohol serving 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.
We grant alcohol serving licences for an indefinite period or for a fixed period.
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.
You may get an alcohol serving licence for premises such as:
- concert venues
- passenger vessels operating a specific route.
As the licensing authority, we must approve both the licensed premises and the licensed area, i.e. the area where alcohol is served. Licensed areas must be such that they can be supervised both by you as the licence holder and by the authorities. You must define and mark the licensed area if its limits are not otherwise obvious.
You must also draw up a self-regulation plan for your licensed premises.
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.
To apply for a licence, complete the application 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.
Our licence processing fees are:
- alcohol serving licence for an indefinite period or for a fixed period EUR 858
- alcohol serving licence for an indefinite period or for a fixed period EUR 594, if
a) the applicant does not have licensed premises
b) the applicant already has a valid alcohol serving licence or alcohol retail trade licence
c) the applicant applies for several alcohol serving licences at the same time, in which case the full fee is charged for one licence and the reduced fee is charged for each of the additional licences
- alcohol serving licence for a fixed period EUR 594, if the duration of the licence is no more than 30 days and the licensed area has capacity for no more than 200 customers
- licence for extended licensing hours EUR 442
- notification of extended licensing hours EUR 297
(however, if the licence holder applies for extended licensing hours for their premises and at the same time files a notification of extended licensing hours for the same premises,
a fee will only be charged for the licence for extended licensing hours)
- application for changing the security steward requirement for extended licensing hours, when the application is processed or sent together with an application for, or notification of, extended licensing hours EUR 297
- approval of licensed areas for functions and events EUR 594
- notification of serving alcohol in approved licensed areas EUR 125, per function or event
- licence for changing the licensed area EUR 297
- notification of changing the licensed area EUR 125
- notification of replacing the person(s) in charge EUR 297
- notification of changes in ownership EUR 125
- alcohol retail trade licence EUR 297, 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
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 a reduced fee is charged for each of the additional licences.
- decision on changing an alcohol serving licence or alcohol retail trade licence EUR 211
- other alcohol serving licences EUR 297.
Prices are valid until December 31, 2022.
If you cancel your application before it has been processed, we will charge half of the fee.
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.
Every year, we collect an enforcement fee from each person holding an alcohol serving licence valid for an indefinite period. The fee is charged for each location. It is based on the volume of alcohol served as per the following table:
Volume of alcohol served per year
- less than 100 litres: EUR 105
- more than 100 litres but less than 2,000 litres: EUR 210
- more than 2,000 litres but less than 10,000 litres: EUR 420
- 10,000 litres or more: EUR 790.
We charge an annual fee for enforcing extended licensing hours:
- if licensing hours are extended to 04.00 on more than 180 days a year, the annual fee is EUR 760
- otherwise the fee is EUR 380.
We invoice the enforcement fees for serving and for extended hours 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.
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.
An auditorium licence allows you to serve alcohol in the spectator area or part thereof at an indoor ice rink, stadium or concert hall, if an age limit of 18 is imposed on the licensed area. Your local Regional State Administrative Agency must approve the licensed areas. You may allow persons under 18 years to enter the licensed part of the spectator area when you are not serving alcohol there.
You may also get an alcohol serving licence for premises such as guest rooms or saunas reserved for groups even if it is not actually possible to supervise such licensed areas. You may limit the number of servings of alcoholic beverages offered. Record your procedures in your self-regulation plan.
You may get an alcohol service licence even if you do not have licensed premises. A catering licence allows you to serve alcohol at various functions or events held in previously approved licensed areas. A catering licence also applies if you are a tour operator and wish to serve alcohol to groups who participate in the tours you organise. Read more under When the event venue has been approved as a licensed area.
If your catering company does not have an alcohol serving licence, you are not allowed to buy alcoholic drinks for the event at the request of the organiser and then charge a fee for delivering or serving the drinks.
However, if the event organiser purchases alcoholic beverages and brings them to the venue, you may then serve them along with serving other food and beverages. Your catering company may charge the event organiser for the use of your staff, for example at an hourly rate.
However, if your company regularly caters for functions and other events on your own premises, you must get an alcohol serving licence for the premises.
The principal rule is that only one licence holder may serve alcohol in any one licensed area.
However, you may use a shared licensed area if supervision has been agreed on. Those who are planning activities in a shared licensed area must agree among themselves who will be responsible for supervision. All those who will be serving alcohol in the area must send to the Regional State Administrative Agency a notification of, or an application for, changing their licensed area.
Licensing hours cannot be extended in a shared licensed area. (See Extended licensing hours)
If you are planning to serve alcohol in a vehicle or vessel, such as an inland waterway vessel, apply for a licence from the Regional State Administrative Agency for the region where your business is registered. If your company does not have a registered office in Finland, submit your licence application to the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland.
If alcoholic beverages are to be sold to passengers on a Finnish vessel that operates between Finland and foreign countries, the carrier must notify the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) of this in writing before sales begin. You can find a link to Valvira’s website at the bottom of this page under Topics that might interest you.
You can apply for a licence for using kitchen alcohol intended for food preparation from the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira). You can find a link to Valvira’s website at the bottom of this page under Topics that might interest you. You must not use kitchen alcohol to mix drinks or cocktails.
Alcoholic drinks purchased for serving alcohol may also be reallocated to the kitchen, in which case they may be used in preparing food. You must keep a record of any alcohol which is used in food production instead of serving. If you do not often use alcohol in cooking, this reallocation is more profitable for your business, because an application processing fee and an annual enforcement fee are charged for licences.
What kind of requirements do you have for employees?
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.
You need enough members of staff to effectively supervise the serving of alcohol and public order on the licensed premises. The number of employees depends on factors such as:
- type of your place of business (e.g. pub, night club or restaurant)
- number of customers allowed on your premises
- types of licensed areas you have.
Knowledge of the Alcohol Act is demonstrated by means of a certificate of alcohol proficiency, also known as an ‘alcohol passport’. It is awarded to a person who has:
- successfully completed an examination which assesses the procedures laid down in the Alcohol Act, including the enforcement of the Act
- completed a course that provides the equivalent knowledge
- gained a qualification that provides the equivalent knowledge.
For a list of educational institutions that offer alcohol passport examinations, see the website of the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira). You can find a link to the Valvira website at the bottom of this page under Topics that might interest you.
The person in charge of licensed premises or the person designated for that task must hold a certificate of alcohol proficiency, also known as an ‘alcohol passport’. An alcohol passport is not required from a person who has a completed a course or a qualification that provides the equivalent knowledge. In addition to the licence holder, the person in charge of serving alcohol is responsible for ensuring that the serving of alcohol on the licensed premises complies with the Alcohol Act and other related provisions. The licence holder must ensure that when the licensed premises are open to customers, the staff on shift includes a person in charge of serving alcohol.
The general rule is that persons under the age of 18 must not sell or serve alcoholic beverages. They are also not allowed to be the person in charge.
A person aged 16 or over may only sell alcoholic drinks under the supervision of an adult person in charge.
As the licence holder, you along with your staff are responsible for supervising your premises and maintaining order. You must remove from the premises a customer who, for example:
- is clearly intoxicated
- behaves disruptively
- violates a prohibition issued by staff.
If serving is continued beyond 01.30, it is your responsibility to ensure that there is one security steward on the licensed premises for each 100 customers or part thereof. The duty of security stewards is to enforce order and security on the licensed premises and in its immediate vicinity. Public order must be maintained until the consumption of alcoholic beverages ends.
The Regional State Administrative Agency may determine that you need to have more security stewards that is specified in the aforementioned general rule.
How do I organise alcohol serving at a function or an event?
If the owner or manager of the event venue (e.g. banquet room) has applied for an alcohol serving licence for the premises or an area within it, you may simply file a notification of serving alcohol at the function or event. You must have a valid alcohol serving licence.
To find a list of approved licensed areas, go to the Alcohol Trade Register at the end of this page.
You must submit your notification no later than three days (72 h) before the event to the Regional State Administrative Agency for the region where the venue or area is located. The person serving alcohol must have a valid alcohol serving licence.
- The owner or manager of the venue must give the registration number of the licensed area to the serving licence holder and specify any conditions that may limit the serving of alcoholic beverages.
- The fee for filing a notification is EUR 125 per function or event.
- Submit your notification with the blanket approved by National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (in Finnish).
If a venue or area has not been approved as a licensed area, you may apply for an alcohol serving licence for a fixed period.
You may apply for a venue or area to be named an approved licensed area if you are the owner or manager of the event venue (e.g. banquet room). You may set conditions, for example concerning serving hours, in your application. Submit your application to the Regional State Administrative Agency for the region where your venue or area is located.
Watch our video: Approval of licensed areas. What do I need to do and know?
What time limits apply to licensing hours?
As a general rule, beverages with an alcohol content of more than 2.8% may be served between 09.00 and 01.30. The licensing authority may, for instance, shorten the licensing hours if the serving of alcohol causes disturbance in the neighbourhood or if it is necessary for public safety. Please note that the licensing hours may also be restricted by the housing company or landlord, etc.
After licensing hours have ended, customers have one hour to finish their alcoholic beverages. You do not have to close the licensed premises after your licensing hours have ended. You must, however, collect and remove all alcoholic beverages at that time. When the licensing hours end, the serving of alcohol outdoors must end, and alcoholic beverages must not be consumed outdoors.
Licensing hours may be extended until 03.00 on the night before:
- Independence Day
- New Year’s Day
- May Day
- Midsummer’s Day.
Indoors, the licensing hours end at 01.30. You can extend this until 04.00 by notifying the Regional State Administrative Agency of the extension. The extended hours will enter into force three weeks after we have received your notice.
To extend your licensing hours in outdoor areas, you must apply for a licence from the Regional State Administrative Agency. With such a licence, you may continue serving alcohol until 04.00 at the latest. Before granting the licence to extend your hours, as the licensing authority we must give the residents in your neighbourhood the opportunity to comment on the extension application and also consult the police for their opinion.
Local authorities have the right to prohibit extended licensing hours in a specific area or to restrict them if the safety of residents so requires. The local authority’s decision may concern all days of the week or only certain days. It may be valid until further notice or for a limited period. A local authority’s decision will enter into force at the earliest six months after it has become legally valid.
You may apply for a licence to serve alcohol during the breakfast service at your guest accommodation, starting at 07.00.
Summer time affects licensing hours if you have submitted an extended hours notification. On the night when summer time begins, you must stop serving alcohol in line with your notification, though no later than 04.00 summer time, i.e. 03.00 winter time. After this, consumption of alcoholic beverages is allowed for one hour, i.e. up to 05.00 summer time. However, you do not need to close the licensed premises.
On the night when summer time ends, you may continue serving alcohol no later than 04.00, i.e. 05.00 summer time.
Frequently asked questions
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.
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.
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.
Licence holders do not need to separately notify the Regional State Administrative Agency when they suspend their alcohol serving licence and temporarily close their restaurant. The Alcohol Act does not include the concept of suspending a licence, so closing licensed premises from customers does not affect the validity of the licence; the licence will still be valid from the perspective of the Alcohol Act.
However, if the licence holder decides to terminate their alcohol serving licence due to exceptional circumstances, they need to apply for a new licence from the Regional State Administrative Agency in order to start up restaurant activities again.
Restaurants with an alcohol retail licence in addition to an alcohol serving licence may sell alcoholic beverages containing a maximum of 5.5% per volume of ethanol to customers to take away in compliance with the provisions of the Alcohol Act. Retail sales by restaurants are comparable to alcohol sales by groceries.
A permit for takeaway sales can be granted to beverages with a maximum alcohol content of 5.5%. A retail licence can only be granted if the current serving licence is valid.
The prerequisites for granting the licence are laid down in the Alcohol Act. Retail sales activities must be included in the self-regulation plan of licenced premises. You can turn to Aldo chatbot on our website if you need help.
Takeaway sales by licensed premises are subject to the same restrictions of the Alcohol Act as other retail sales. Retail sales are only permitted from 9:00 to 21:00.
Under normal circumstances, the target processing time is one month, but when applications are drawn up according to instructions, the wait time is often shorter. Regional State Administrative Agencies naturally strive to process applications as quickly as possible.
Cancelling a licence decision that has already been made does not remove the payment obligation. It is possible to file a claim for rectification to a licence fee. Regardless of the filing of a claim for rectification, the licence fee must be paid, and if the claim for rectification is approved, the fee will be refunded.
An application can be cancelled, which ends the processing of the matter. If an application or notification submitted to the Regional State Administrative Agency under alcohol legislation is cancelled before the matter has been finished, the processing fee is half of the fee that would otherwise have been charged from the applicant.
As long as an application is pending, it can be changed by notifying the Regional State Administrative Agency. No separate fee will be charged for making changes to an application.
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.
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)
Aldo chatbot is our customer adviser for alcohol licences, offering customer service around the clock.
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