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Serving of alcoholic beverages 3

Prohibitions on serving of alcohol and customers 

Alcoholic beverages shall not be sold or otherwise handed over in a retail store or on licensed premises:   1) to persons under the age of 18;  2) to persons who behave disruptively or are clearly intoxicated;  3) if there is reason to suspect illegal handover or procurement of alcoholic beverages for other persons (Alcohol Act, Section 37). 

Persons under the age of 18 who are clearly intoxicated or behave disruptively are not permitted to possess and consume alcoholic beverages on licensed premises (Alcohol Act, Section 37). 

A customer who is clearly intoxicated must not be given access to the licensed premises. A customer in the licensed premises who is clearly intoxicated shall be removed from the licensed premises (Alcohol Act, Section 36). 

Verification of age on the licensed premises 

A buyer of alcoholic beverages or a customer in a serving area shall, upon request, provide proof of identity to a staff member supervising retail sales and serving and to an official supervising compliance with the Alcohol Act in the form of a photo ID, driver’s licence or passport or other reliable picture document issued by authorities (Alcohol Act, Section 40). Such documents include, for instance, a refugee travel document or alien’s passport. A Trafi mobile driving licence may also be used as proof of age. 

A foreign photo ID, passport or driver’s licence may be accepted as proof if it does not seem easy to forge and it indicates the age of the person.  

The licence holder may at its own discretion specify what other official photo IDs may be accepted as proof of age. However, these practices may not be discriminatory. 

The Alcohol Act does not forbid minors from staying in the licensed premises. However, the licence holder may set an age limit for the premises.  

The Alcohol Act includes a provision on auditorium areas restricted to those who are 18 or older. Sports, music or comparable auditorium areas may be approved as a serving area if access is limited to persons aged 18 or more. No minors may be permitted to enter such areas when alcohol is served. (Alcohol Act, Section 18). 

The licence holder and the staff of the licensed premises are responsible for supervising that minors do not consume alcoholic beverages on the licensed premises, such as drinks given to them by other customers (Alcohol Act, Sections 37 and 38).    Even though security personnel may verify the ages of young people when they enter the licensed premises, the sales staff must also always check the age of any customer who may, on the basis of his/her appearance or otherwise, be suspected of being under the age of 18. That said, the checking of IDs by staff may not be based on discriminatory practices, such as nationality.  

The self-supervision plan of the licensed premises must describe the practices employed at the licensed premises to ensure compliance with the age limits set for serving alcoholic beverages. 

Intoxicated customer 

A customer who is clearly intoxicated must not be given access to the licensed premises (Alcohol Act, Section 36).   

Alcoholic beverages may not be sold or otherwise handed over on licensed premises to persons who are clearly intoxicated or behave disruptively (Alcohol Act, Section 37). 

In order to avoid all sorts of inconvenience and disturbance, an intoxicated person has to be removed from the licensed premises immediately when his/her intoxication is clearly noticeable (Alcohol Act, Section 36). The removal has to be carried out in a sensitive but determined manner.  

If this customer is heavily intoxicated and unable to manage on his/her own, the staff has to make sure that he/she is safely taken home (such as by ordering a taxi for the customer). He/she is permitted to wait for transportation home in the restaurant vestibule under supervision.

Sometimes taking care of customer safety in removal situations will require calling the police. A penalty for abandonment has been enacted in the Criminal Code (Chapter 21:14).  

An intoxicated person's judgement is considerably weakened. Due to this, he/she may be unpredictable and his/her next move cannot be anticipated. An intoxicated person can easily cause a disturbance, such as taking another customer’s drink for him/herself. A clearly intoxicated person's characteristics include, among others:


  • the person has glazed eyes or difficulty focusing
  • the person behaves in a disruptive manner, is loud and overly self-confident
  • the person has comprehension difficulties and does not understand what is said to him/her
  • the person’s movements are unsure and clumsy, he/she has difficulties grasping things and slow reflexes
  • the person spills his/her drink and has difficulties drinking from his/her glass
  • the person sways when he/she walks or falls without assistance
  • the person’s speech is slurred and no longer comprehensible
  • the person is disoriented or he/she has difficulties controlling his/her emotions
  • the person nods off, dozes off easily or has passed out/fallen asleep
  • the person feels nauseous. 


The characteristics of clear intoxication are always assessed contextually. When assessing intoxication, it has to be taken into consideration that the characteristics indicating intoxication may also be due to an illness or disability. Applying the characteristics must not lead to discrimination based on illness or disability. 

The self-supervision plan of the licensed premises must describe the practices employed at the licensed premises to ensure that no alcohol is served to clearly intoxicated persons. The self-supervision plan must also describe the procedures used on the licensed premises in situations where the intoxication of the customer is clearly evident when he or she enters or is staying there. 

Right to choose customers 

In accordance with Section 5 of the Accommodation and Catering Act, the licence holder and the staff have the right to deny a potential customer access to the premises, if there is a valid reason for the denial from the point of view of order on the premises, or from the point of view of the business idea of the enterprise. On the basis of the business idea, customer selection can be done by setting age limits or requirements on attire as requisites for access.  

The Private Security Services Act states that security personnel also have the right to prevent the entry into the area under their supervision of persons who do not fulfil the age limit set for entry or other conditions set in the act or regulations issued pursuant to it concerning entry into an area supervised by security personnel or which the organiser of the event or occupant of the area has set for entry. 

The grounds for customer selection must not be discriminatory. The provisions against discrimination are laid down in the Non-Discrimination Act (1325/2014), Section 8. Nobody may be discriminated against on the basis of for example ethnic or national origin, language, religion, belief, opinion, health, disability, sexual orientation or other personal characteristics. 


Updated: 22.1.2019