The Public Health Agency of Sweden
Updated 24 November 2020

Import, entry of goods and distance trading in alcoholic beverages and alcoholic beverage-like preparations

Alcoholic beverages and alcoholic beverage-like preparations may only be imported and brought into Sweden if the rules of the Alcohol Act are complied with.

If you wish to import alcoholic beverages or alcoholic beverage-like preparations that are taxable, you need to be a wholesaler in the first instance.

However, there are a number of situations where the import or entry of alcoholic beverages and alcoholic beverage-like preparations by other actors is also permitted. For example, a private individual may transport such goods across the border under certain conditions. Distance trading may also be possible for a private individual. Here it is important to distinguish between import and entry of goods because the rules of the Alcohol Act are different. Entry of goods is cross-border trade within the internal market and imports are trade across the border outside the internal market. Distance trading is not allowed in the case of imports.

Distance trading means ordering goods from a shop in another member country of the EU and having the goods sent to you for your or your family's use. This is often done with the help of professional intermediaries, such as various transport companies. There may also be other independent intermediaries who help with the entry of goods in other ways. In order to be regarded as an independent intermediary in the eyes of the law, the actor may not be established on the Swedish market if they sell goods to private individuals. In such a case, it is considered as retail trade. Systembolaget, a government owned chain of alcohol stores in Sweden is the only retail store allowed to carry out retail trade.

The Svea Court of Appeal in a judgment from 26 April 2016 in Case No B 6057, has clarified the concept of an independent intermediary saying “it is quite clear that the sale to consumers on the Swedish market by an actor who is established and registered in Sweden, cannot be regarded as an independent intermediary since this is a sale and not a service in which a private individual performs their import via an independent intermediary.”

Actors whose trade relates to imports and the entry of goods also need to contact the Swedish Tax Agency to find out what applies under the tax law regulations.