Valvira supervises the import of alcohol into Finland in collaboration with other authorities, including the Customs. Private individuals can import alcoholic beverages for their own use without an import license. However, commercial import is permitted only if the importer has been granted the relevant license as set out in the Alcohol Act. Different types of alcohol-related licenses include the serving license, retail license and wholesale license.
Importers of alcoholic beverages are responsible for their imports as well ensuring that the product, its labelling and any other information provided comply with the relevant alcohol and food legislation. Importers must submit a product declaration for alcohol imported to Finland prior to placing it on the market.
As part of our alcoholic beverage-related supervisory activities, we maintain an alcohol data system of all alcoholic beverages sold in Finland. The data system contains basic information on all beverages marketed in Finland as well as the traders responsible for them. Importers must declare all imported products before placing them on the market.
Importing alcoholic beverages for wholesale purposes
A wholesale license for alcoholic beverages allows the importation of alcohol as specified on the license.
Import for serving or retail sale purposes, and the license holders right to import
A serving or retail license holder may import alcoholic beverages as specified in their license for their own serving or retail purposes. Prior to importing, the license holder is required to notify Valvira of their intent to act as an importer.
Those licensed to use alcohol can import alcoholic beverages and spirits for their own use. Prior to importing, they must notify Valvira of their intent to act as an importer. Imports are limited to the types of alcohol specified in the license.
The import notification must be submitted to Valvira in writing using the relevant form (Ilmoitus toimimisesta maahantuojana). It takes an average of 14 days for notifications to be processed. The fee payable for the application is determined by a Ministry of Social Affairs and Health decree.
Import notifications should be submitted to Valvira in Finnish or Swedish. The applicant may appoint a representative or proxy to submit the notification on their behalf. The representative is required to present authorisation entitling them to act on the applicant’s behalf.
Valvira must be notified of all imported units intended for serving or retail sale purposes monthly, by the 18th of the month following the import. The notification must be submitted using the relevant form (maahantuontiraportti). More information on how to register and report imports are available in the import reporting guidance, available in Finnish and Swedish.
All alcohol imported under a license to use must be reported to Valvira on request, usually once annually.
Importing spirits and alcoholic preparations
A license to import spirits entitles businesses to import spirits for commercial purposes from within and outside the EU. A wholesale license for alcoholic preparations entitles the license holder to import alcohol as specified on the license.
To apply for an import license for spirits, please use the relevant form (Väkiviinan ja alkoholivalmisteen valmistus, tukkumyynti ja maahantuonti). Applicants must ensure they have enclosed all the supporting documents listed on the form. Storage facilities may be inspected, where appropriate, and we will discuss the application, relevant legislation and reporting requirements with each applicant.
All alcohol license applications should be submitted to Valvira in Finnish or Swedish. The applicant may appoint a representative or proxy to assist them during the application process. The representative is required to present written authorisation to act on the applicant’s behalf.
Processing times vary but, as a rule, applications will be processed in approximately three months. The fee payable for the application is determined by a Ministry of Social Affairs and Health decree.
Import licenses for spirits are granted until further notice and the license will remain valid indefinitely, provided that the license holder continues to satisfy the license requirements. More information on duration and the terms and conditions under which the licenses are granted are available in the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health Decision (STMp) on the preconditions and applicants’ necessary reliability for the production licence, import licence and wholesale licence of alcoholic beverages and spirits (274/1997).
Once an import license has been granted, the license holder is responsible for ensuring that they continue to meet the necessary requirements and demonstrate sufficient reliability. The license holder is additionally responsible for notifying Valvira of any change to the license holder’s details or operations, including name, shareholders, ownership, address and storage facility location.
The license holder is required to report to Valvira on their import activity as set out in the reporting guidance.
Import by private individuals
There are no restrictions on the right of private individuals to purchase alcoholic beverages abroad for their own use. However, you must ensure that the ordering, payment and transportation of the beverages is arranged in such a way as to not contravene provisions relating to the sale and procurement of alcohol set out in the Alcohol Act or duties payable on importation.