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Enactment of partially revised Swiss alcohol legislation as of 1 January 2018

On 15 September 2017, the Swiss Federal Council passed the revised Alcohol Ordinance. It will enter into force on 1 January 2018, together with the Alcohol Law revised in autumn 2016. At the same time, the enforcement authority is transferred from the Federal Alcohol Administration (EAV) to the Federal Customs Administration (EAV). The formal dissolution of the EAV will take place after its former profit centre Alcosuisse is privatized.

The Alcohol Law was partially revised in autumn 2016 after the failed total revision at the end of 2015. The Federal Council has now adjusted the corresponding Alcohol Ordinance. In addition, it has adopted the Partial Enactment Ordinance on the amendments of 30 September 2016 to the Alcohol Law and the Ordinance on the takeover of distilled spirits by the Alcohol Administration.

The provisions of the revised alcohol legislation come into force, with some exceptions, on 1 January 2018 and result, among other things, in the following novelties:

  • Spirits production: introduction of electronic self-declaration, new lump-sum balancing of defective quantities, reduction of the safety requirements for tax warehouses, abolition of sealed storage, restriction of the alcohol accounting duty to commercial producers and tax warehouses;
  • Spirits import: renouncement of the subsequent labelling requirement (the relevant provisions of food legislation continue to apply);
  • Spirits trade: renouncement of licensing requirements for wholesalers as well as of labelling rules for alcohol under commercial law;
  • Ethanol: introduction of usage permits for tax-free storage and use of undenatured ethanol, establishment of a public register of ethanol, regulation of denaturation through companies, privatization of the former profit centre Alcosuisse (the sales procedure is in progress), abolition of the ethanol import monopoly (expected on 1 January 2019);
  • Organization: change of the enforcement authority from the EAV to the EZV on 1 January 2018 (formal dissolution of the EAV upon completion of the privatization procedure), establishment of the relevant alcohol and tobacco department in Delémont (Delsberg) (planned for 1 March 2018).

Thus, the Swiss ethanol market is expected to be liberalized starting from 1 January 2019.