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Serving of alcoholic beverages 4

Serving hours and their extension 

Serving alcoholic beverages with an alcohol content of more than 2.8% is permitted from 09:00 to 01:30, unless the licensing authority has limited the serving hours. However, on the night before Independence Day, New Year’s Day, May Day and Midsummer’s Day, serving hours may be extended to 03:00. (Alcohol Act, Sections 22 and 43). 

Alcoholic beverages served may be consumed up to one hour after the end of serving hours (Alcohol Act, Section 43). The licensed premises do not have to be closed at the end of serving hours.  The licence holder may freely decide on the opening hours. 

At an indoor venue, serving hours may be extended from 01:30 to 04:00 by notifying the licensing authority (extended hours notification). The notification must be submitted no later than three weeks before the planned introduction of extended serving hours. (Alcohol Act, Section 44). 

Serving hours on outdoor premises can be extended by application to 04:00 (extended hours application) if the licensing authority grants permission. By application, serving outdoors can begin at the earliest at 07:00 if the licensing authority has granted a licence for accommodation premises breakfast service. (Alcohol Act, Section 44).  

Serving hours cannot be extended beyond 01:30 in a shared serving area, even by application (Alcohol Act, Section 44). 

If serving is extended beyond 01:30 on licensed premises, the licence holder must appoint one security officer per each 100 customers or part thereof to oversee order and safety on the premises and in their immediate vicinity from 01:30 until the customers have stopped consuming alcoholic beverages, unless otherwise specified by the licensing authority. (Alcohol Act, Section 45). A security officer may take care of other job tasks on the licensed premises at the same time, provided that this does not jeopardise overseeing order and safety on the premises or the other tasks. 

After the complete entry into force of the new Alcohol Act on 1 March 2018, licences valid at that time including an extension of serving hours to 02:30 or 03:30 will be subject to the provisions that were valid when the licences were granted,  unless the licence holder submits an extended serving hours notification as specified in Section 44 of the Alcohol Act (Alcohol Act, Section 93). 

The switch to daylight saving time affects the serving hours of restaurants that have submitted an extended hours notification. When the switch to daylight saving time occurs, such licensed premises that have made an extended hours notification must stop serving at the notified time, but no later than at 04:00 DST, or 03:00 winter time. After this, alcoholic beverages may be consumed for one hour, that is, until 05:00 DST at the latest. However, the licensed premises do not have to be closed. When switching to winter time, the same principle is applied: alcohol can be served until 04:00 winter time at the latest, that is, 05:00 DST. 

Switching to daylight saving and winter time also affects the operations of restaurants that have been granted an extended hours permit for serving alcohol until 03:30 under the old Alcohol Act. When switching to daylight saving time, the serving of alcoholic beverages must end at 02:30, as the clock is moved forward by one hour from 03:00 to 04:00. In other words, the licensed premises must comply with the clock. The restaurant can make up for the lost hour when switching to winter time: on that day, the serving of alcohol ends at 03:30 after the clock has been moved back from 04:00 to 03:00. 

Alcohol servings 

Alcoholic beverages may be sold for immediate consumption only in opened packages or poured into a glass or other vessel (Alcohol Act, Section 41).  When serving alcoholic beverages to a passenger as referred to in the Act on Accommodation and Food Service Activities in an accommodation room or to a private party in a conference room or similar space operated by the licence holder, unopened packages may also be served if the amount of alcoholic beverages available has been limited according to the number of customers and the requirements for the supervision of serving alcoholic beverages. Limiting the amount of alcoholic beverages available may be provided for in more detail by Government decree. (Alcohol Act, Section 45). 

If alcoholic beverages are sold as servings, basic servings must be available to consumers. A basic serving is 4 cl for spirits, 8 cl for mild alcoholic beverages containing more than 15% by volume of ethyl alcohol, 12 cl for mild alcoholic beverages containing more than 8% but no more than 15% by volume of alcohol, and 33 cl for other mild alcoholic beverages (Alcohol Act, Section 41). 

Alcohol legislation does not limit the maximum number of alcohol servings served at one time. However, the self-supervision plan of the licensed premises must indicate the maximum serving sizes specified by the licence holder to be sold to any one customer at one time, if that maximum serving is larger than four times the basic serving as listed above. (Decree of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Section 4.) 

The Internet site of the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes) provides guidelines on measuring instruments to be used in serving alcoholic drinks. 

The licensing authority may impose conditions and limitations on the serving licence or the serving area approval with respect to the serving sizes if they are necessary in order to prevent disturbance and noise nuisances in the residential environment, to ensure supervision in the premises where serving takes place and in their vicinity, or to ensure public order and safety (Alcohol Act, Section 22).


Updated: 22.1.2019