Procuring beverages for serving
Only legally procured alcoholic beverages can be sold and consumed in licensed premises. Alcoholic beverages must always be purchased using the licence number of the place of business concerned. Alcoholic beverages are to be legally procured from licensed manufacturers, wholesalers or retailers (Alcohol Act, Sections 30 and 46). The licence holder may also import alcoholic beverages for serving purposes (Alcohol Act, Section 29).
If any other alcoholic beverages than the legally procured alcoholic beverages are sold on licensed premises or in connection of the premises, the licence holder or a staff member working on the premises can be sentenced for illegal sales of alcoholic substances (Criminal Code (39/1889), chapter 50 a).
Serving and consumption of a customer's own alcoholic beverages in the licensed premises are prohibited at all times. Consequently, in private functions in restaurants, such as weddings, it is not permitted to consume for example as a welcoming toast the customer’s own champagne from abroad; only beverages which have been legally procured for serving are permitted.
The law also restricts the consumption of customers’ own alcoholic beverages in premises without a licence. According to the law, drinking of alcoholic beverages is prohibited in restaurants and other places where food and refreshments are available to the public against payment and at a public event referred to in the Assembly Act (Alcohol Act, Section 85).
Commercial imports of alcohol for serving
Having notified Valvira, the licence holder can import the types of alcoholic beverages for serving which have been specified in the serving licence (Alcohol Act, Section 29). The notification is premises-specific.
The notification is given to Valvira on a notification form that is available at www.valvira.fi. A fee is charged for handling the notification and a letter confirming receipt of the notification is sent to the premises. This letter is presented to customs when importing alcohol.
The importer is responsible for the imported alcoholic beverages (Alcohol Act, Section 30). Valvira supervises and monitors compliance with this responsibility. The importer is obligated to report all imported consignments monthly to Valvira.
Imported alcoholic beverages must be declared for taxation. Importing alcoholic beverages is considered illegal if the excise duty on alcohol has not been paid for in Finland.
Collecting information and the duty to report
Licence holders are required to submit reports and information on their sales and other operations as necessary for supervision and risk assessment to the supervisory authorities at regular intervals (Alcohol Act, Section 62).
Serving licence holders shall report to the licensing authority semiannually the revenue from their sale of alcoholic beverages and the number of their personnel, and also the volume of (litres) and revenue (euros) from their retail sale of alcoholic beverages if they sell alcoholic beverages for consumption off their premises. Also, serving licence holders shall report to the licensing authority semiannually the volume and cost of alcoholic beverages acquired from a retail sale licence holder for the purpose of serving them on licensed premises. (Decree of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Section 9.)
Every licence holder has to provide the information to the Regional State Administrative Agency no later than at the end of the reporting period. The information for the first six months of the calendar year must be submitted by 31 July and the information for the latter six months by 31 January. The Regional State Administrative Agencies record the information in the alcohol trade register. The licence holder can fill and return the form either electronically (www.valvira.fi) or on paper (form available at www.avi.fi).
If no sales have been made during the reporting period and the licensing authority has not been notified of the discontinuation of activities in the restaurant, the report has to be given by the due date stating that there have been no sales in that period.
Receiving the information is important for the entire industry because it enables following the development of the industry and preventing the grey economy and financial crimes.
Alcohol book-keeping and alcohol stocks
Licence holders must record sales by each account so as to provide data for the report submitted to the licensing authority.
In case the authorities carry out an inspection, the licence holder has to be able to provide documentary evidence showing the alcoholic beverages on the licensed premises have been legally procured.
In the serving areas of the licensed premises, it is not permitted to store other alcoholic beverages than those that have been procured using the licence number for the premises. Customers’ own alcoholic beverages that have been left in the premises for storing have to be kept clearly separate from the beverages served on the premises, for example in a cloakroom or other similar place.