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Can I import alcohol over the internet?

Lydia Parafianowicz · 8 Jun 2009, 13:31

Published: 08 Jun 2009 13:31 GMT+02:00

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It is legal for people to privately import alcohol into Sweden, either via online shops in Sweden or directly from the producer.

Until June 2008, it was not legal to buy alcohol from online companies to be delivered in Sweden. If a resident of Sweden was caught doing so, he or she would be fined and the alcohol seized by the authorities.

However, Swedish Customs announced in June 2008 it would change the regulation to allow people to privately order alcohol online. As of January 1st, 2009, the ‘paperwork’ of the matter was completed and made officially legal.

“There are two ways the alcohol can come into Sweden,” says Christina Levander of the Swedish Tax agency. “One is if you go to a website that sells the alcohol and transports the goods to you, like any ordering company. In that case, the seller must be registered here in Sweden as a distance seller of alcohol, and they pay the excess duty.”

However, many companies don’t want to go through this administrative process to register, she says, which creates the second way in which alcohol can enter the country.

“Those companies try to get the buyer to contact a transport company, so the buyer himself orders the transport of the goods,” Levander says. “By law, the buyer is then liable to pay the excess duty.”

Therefore, individuals purchasing alcohol online must take into account the price of transportation and duty taxes, if the company does not pay these fees for the customer.

“We see many sites that don’t pay for transport, which forces the buyer to hire a transport company, and then the buyer is taking the risk,” she says. “There are some websites that are registered and do it by the book, mostly sites with fine wines and such. They aren’t into selling high amounts, but high quality products.”

Levander says whether alcohol is purchased online or in a Systembolaget, the taxes paid on it all go to the same place, the Swedish Tax Agency. The tax rates are the same regardless of where the alcohol is purchased.

So long as alcohol purchased online is for personal use, there is no limit to how much one person can import. The problem is, if it’s a large quantity being imported, to prove it’s all for personal use.

“When the customs authority stops the transport truck and sees the amount, they might get suspicious and take the goods into custody,” Levander says. “They might just examine and see who’s paying for it. The risk you take is that you won’t get the goods until you prove it’s for your own personal use.”

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She advises individuals wishing to buy alcohol online to call the company or the Swedish Tax Agency if unsure about the company’s legitimacy. If customers are asked to contact a transport company and arrange delivery themselves, then they should be aware the price of the goods will increase.

If an individual buys alcohol outside of Sweden and brings it into the country him or herself, then he or she will not be charged duty taxes on the goods.

Lydia Parafianowicz (lydia.parafianowicz@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

15:29 June 8, 2009 by byke
Thats a very bent monopoly considering we are in Europe.
20:10 June 8, 2009 by lingonberrie
The law is good but leaves too much uncertainty.

Much refinement is needed to fine-tune this good idea for indivdual customers. Sweden should not hestiate to remove these convoluted conditions.
11:06 June 9, 2009 by peropaco
Phuck Systembologet
14:21 June 9, 2009 by Britswedeguy
I tried importing alcohol over the internet but my keyboard got all wet.

14:01 June 10, 2009 by ameribrit
I wish to second the motion forwarded by peropaco.
13:15 June 11, 2009 by French viking
Buvez du vin Francais !!
15:46 June 21, 2009 by svenskdod
Sweden and Swedes mentality on Alcohol is archaic at best. Having a beer after work on a weekday is taboo??? Teenagers are told they are not allowed to drink so much, when they actually become old enough they go overboard.

Do they not understand that if you tell a child NO, then said child is just going to want to do it more??? When I say child, I mean every single Swedish person...

I wonder how much it costs the government per year to police the import of alcohol? Probably more than the taxes they have on the stuff? This mirrors somewhat the "War on Drugs" America has been going through for quite some time.

If it was actually OK to drink in moderation here, then there would be less problems.
16:56 June 21, 2009 by Mib
Compare the Swedish alcohol problem, compared to the UK and you're talking about a much more serious problem in the UK. The Swedish system from and ex-pat point of view works as good as you can reasonably have it. Of course, it doesn't stop illegal drinking etc, but it reduces it.

The law making it illegal to import alcohol is obviously very stupid, especially when you're in the EU. Sweden has to follow the EU laws unless it has a specific opt out, which I don't think they do as the old law prevented competition. Therefore, I don't see any issue with importing alcohol from within the EU as long as it is for personal consumption.

All this debate about alcohol, makes me think how crazy it is that peoples desire for so much alcohol means they are prepared to go through all the hassle of ordering from abroad. It's like the Northerners in the Uk who travel down on the cr*ppy coach just to save some money on alcohol. Personally, the prices at Systembolaget seem reasonable.
17:44 June 21, 2009 by Puffin
You can import booze over the internet - it's just a lot of paperwork to do it legally
18:24 June 21, 2009 by jack sprat
Sweden is still in the dark ages with the controls they attempt to impose on ppls.lives.

Alcohol is just one example.

As a result the backwoods of the country are awash with illegal stills and spirits.

Easily and cheaply available everywhere.

Likewise its amazing just how many alcoholics are staggering about some of the outlying villages and countryside daytime and nighttime.

Possibly a combined result of dodgy illegal booze and the contolled boring lifestyle.

Fortunately most of them are too far gone to cause any serious problems.

In any event I think there are many more alcoholics than the authorities would care to admit or are even aware of.

(A bit like the crime figures on other thread)

With regard to some of the townies and others, who like good Swedes abstain through the week, it is sad to watch them on booze cruises or holidays getting completely legless and making absolute idiots of themselves,because they are simply not used to it.

I mean not only the yobs, but just as many older ones who would normally be expected to set an example and know when to stop.
18:31 June 21, 2009 by Mzungu

Are you legless sprat?

Or do you normally repeat a comment after spacing out!
18:45 June 21, 2009 by jack sprat
Most humble apologies MZ, slip of my clumsy mitts whilst reaching for the brandy.

Havn't even had my first sip yet,maybe best leave it alone.
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