Do I need a license to sell alcohol in 2024 in Bulgaria?

Find out if you need a license to sell alcoholic beverages, spirits and wine in 2024. See what is required when transporting and labeling wine under the Wine and Spirits Act!
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Do I need a license to sell alcohol in 2024 in Bulgaria?
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In the dynamically changing business landscape of Bulgaria, alcohol trading continues to be an important sector with specific regulations and requirements. Elan Consulting, with an established reputation of expert in tax, licensing and accounting issues, examines the key aspects of alcohol trade in Bulgaria in 2024. In this introduction, we will look at the main issues related to licensing the sale of alcohol and highlight the importance of complying with legal frameworks to ensure the successful and lawful development of your business.

Our team focuses on providing comprehensive support and advice on requirements for the sale of alcohol, covering all aspects, such as “Is there “Law on the sale of alcohol?”to specific regulations for the different types of alcoholic beverages, including wine. Our goal is to provide you with the most up to date information about who issues a license to sell alcohol, how much does an alcohol license cost, and of course, the specifics of the wine trade — do you need a license to sell wine.

In the following sections of the article, we will touch on each of these key topics, providing you with valuable advice based on our extensive experience and knowledge in the field. Our mission is to help your business grow successfully by ensuring that you are fully informed and prepared to meet all regulatory requirements for alcohol trading in Bulgaria in 2024.

Who controls the production of wine?

In Bulgaria, the wine sector is strictly regulated, such as Executive Agency for Vine and Wine (IALV)plays a central role in this process. Under the direct guidance of Minister of Agriculture, IALV is the body responsible for the implementation of state control in the wine sector of the Republic of Bulgaria. This control covers the entire process from the vineyards to the final product — wine, as well as the production of grape must, fruit wines and vinegar.

The Agency has the task of ensuring compliance with the requirements set out in the The Law on Wine and Spirits, which includes controls on the quality and origin of the grapes intended for wine, as well as on the processes of production and bottling of the wine. Such measures have been introduced in order to protect consumers and ensure high quality standards of Bulgarian wines.

The management of IALVis carried out by Executive Director, who is responsible for the strategic management and representation of the agency. Chief Secretaryin turn, deals with the administrative management of the agency, in execution of the legal orders of the executive director.

Thus, IALV plays a critical role in maintaining the traditions and quality of Bulgarian wine, while ensuring compliance with the relevant legal frameworks and standards.

Do I need a license to sell wine?

In the context of Bulgarian legislation, sales of wine purchased from a winemaker, provided that the excise duty is paid by the producer and the wine is released for consumption, does not requireregistration under Excise Duties and Tax Warehouses Act (ZADC). This frees traders from having to go through a specific registration process related to excise goods when it comes to selling wine, alcohol or spirits to end consumers!

In addition, The Food Lawdoes not include wine, including beer and spirits, in the list of foods whose marketing or offering to final consumers requires special registration under the GI Code. This suggests that the sale of wine does not require registration with the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency (BAFSA) or the Regional Health Inspectorates (RHI).

Important aspects of the legislation:

  • According to Art. 20 of the Excise and Tax Warehouses Act, the obligation to pay excise duty arises from the moment of release of excise goods for consumption.
  • Art. 131 of the Law on Wine and Spiritsprohibits the sale of draft (unbottled) spirit drinks, which does not directly affect the sale of wine, unless considered in the context of certain restrictions on bottling and sale.

Distinction between the sale and production of wine, alcoholic and spirit drinks

When it comes to wine production, registration of the site is requiredin the order of the ZADS and in the order of The Law on Wine and Spirits. This underlines the distinction between wine production and trade.

For activities related to distillation facilities for the production of ethyl alcohol, distillates and spirits, registration in a special register, led by Ministry of Economy. This includes the import, production, sale and provision of distillation equipment.

Although for the sale of wine released for consumption, in general no special license or registration requiredunder the ZADC or the Food Act, it is important that producers and traders are informed and comply with all relevant regulations and laws, especially in activities related to wine production and operation of distillation facilities. Elan Consulting emphasizes the importance of full compliance with the legislation to ensure the successful and legal trade of wine in Bulgaria.

What should wine traders consider when importing, labelling and transporting wine?

When importing, labelling and transporting wine, traders must strictly observe certain rules that guarantee the quality and traceability of the product, protect the interests of consumers and producers, and promote the good functioning of the market.

Labelling of wineis regulated in order to prevent any possibility of misleading consumers as to the nature, origin, quality and other important aspects of the product. According to Bulgarian law, labels must contain mandatory data in Bulgarian, or in Bulgarian and one or more official EU languages, which is important both for wines destined for the Bulgarian market and for those offered on international markets.

When importing wine, it is particularly important to comply with labelling requirements which ensure that all mandatory particulars are presented clearly and accurately so as not to mislead consumers as to the origin and quality of the product.

Transport of intermediate productssuch as grapes and grape must, shall be regulated by requiring accompanying documents attesting to the origin and quality of the goods transported. The accompanying document is especially important when transporting wine grapes and grape mustand transportation is carried out at a distance greater than 40 kilometers.. This is also required when transporting concentrated grape must, concentrated and rectified grape must, wine and draft wines in containers holding more than 60 litres!

IMPORTANT!In the case of carriage of wine released for consumption, an accompanying document shall be drawn up according to:

  • Article 116 (3), point 3 ZVSP-when the transport is within the territory of the country
  • Article 76a of the Excise Duties and Tax Warehouses Act - when the transport is to the territory of another Member State of the European Union.

When transporting wine released for consumption in the territory of another Member State of the European Union, an accompanying document is drawn up to the territory of the country under Article 76c of the Law on Excise Duties and Tax Warehouses.

It is important to note that labelling is optional for grapes transported from vineyards to a place of vinification, which highlights the distinction between regulations applicable to final products and those relating to intermediate products in the wine-making process.

Traders and manufacturers must carefully comply with these requirements in order to ensure the successful and lawful placing of their products on the market, while protecting and maintaining high standards of quality and transparency.

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What are the peculiarities of importing wine into Bulgaria from EU Member States and third countries outside the EU?

When importing wine into Bulgaria, traders are faced with a number of specialized requirements, which differ depending on whether the product is imported from Member States of the European Union or from third countries outside the EU. These requirements are created in order to ensure the quality of products and to protect both consumers and the local market.

Peculiarities of imports from third countries:When importing fresh grapes, grape must, grape must in fermentation, concentrated grape must, concentrated rectified grape must, grape must in fermentation suspended by the addition of alcohol, grape juice, concentrated grape juice and wine or mixtures of these products, originating in third countriesin view of the risk that they will be processed into the products listed in Annex No 1 or added to such products within the territory of the European Union, in the first place when submitting the customs declaration for the release of goods for free circulation, the importer presents a special guarantee - an unconditional irrevocable bank guarantee issued in favor of the Customs Agency in the amount of 30 percent of the declared entry price of the corresponding lot.

More importantly, importers whose products do not fall under the exemptions are required to submit to the Customs Agency a written opinion from the Executive Agency for Vine and Wine (Vine) confirming that all restrictions have been complied with. This opinion must be submitted within 12 months of the lodging of the import declaration.After the submission of the opinion, the bank guarantee shall frees. In the event that the IALV does not receive the necessary opinion within the established period, the guarantee provided is retained and the products may be processed or destroyed in accordance with the law. Only where the wine is bottled and labelled in a way that clearly indicates its origin in a third country, special guarantee is not required. It is also important that importers indicate the place of storage of the products and declare that they will not process imported products into products to be added to Annex 1 products within the EU.

Peculiarities of imports from EU Member States:Wine released for consumption in the territory of another Member State and imported into Bulgaria shall be subject to the drawing up of Accompanying documentunder Art. 76c of the Excise and Tax Warehouses Act. This document is important to ensure the traceability of products and their legal movement within the EU.

All these measures aim to ensure that imported wine meets the strict quality and safety standards established both at national level and within the European Union. They ensure that consumers receive high quality products, and importers undergo mandatory checks for compliance with established norms and standards.

What are the penalties for selling alcohol to persons under 18?

In Bulgaria, legislation sets strict limits on the sale and use of alcoholic beverages by and to persons under the age of 18, in order to protect the youngest members of society. Child Protection Actand The Penal Codedefine sanctions and responsibilities in this regard.

According to Art. 5b, para. 3from Child Protection Act, it is strictly forbidden to offer and sell alcoholic beverages to children. This includes any kind of alcohol. This ban is part of the state's broader effort to provide specialized protection for children in public places, implemented by various state and local authorities.

In case of violation of this prohibition, Art. 45The same law provides administrativepunitive measures, which include fine or property penalty from BGN 2000 to BGN 4000for the initial violation. If the violation is repeated, further measures may be taken, including temporary suspension of the activity of the offender for a period of up to one year.

For its part, The Penal CodeIt also sets its frames. According to Art. 193, a person who sold alcohol to a person under the age of 18 for personal use may be punished with fine of up to one thousand leva and probationand in the case of systematic commission of such an act, with imprisonment for up to three years and a fine of up to three thousand leva.

These sanctions underline the serious attitude of Bulgarian legislation to the protection of young people from the negative effects of alcohol. They serve as a means of preventing the illegal sale and use of alcohol among minors and aim to create a safe and healthy environment for the development of children and young people in the country.

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Счетоводна Къща Елан Консултинг - счетоводни услуги в бургас, адвокат данъчно право и данъчен адвокат в България.