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Importing Alcohol

Under food import controls, alcoholic drinks are treated as either foods of non-animal origin or composite products (contain both plant and animal ingredients, e.g., cream liqueurs) and they must meet the import requirements for those product types.


In addition to the general import requirements for the product type (non-animal origin or composite product), the import of wine from third countries requires additional documentation.

Wine imports from third countries require a VI-1 certificate. This document certifies that the wine complies with EU regulations and has been produced using wine-making practices which are:  

  • recommended and published by The International Organisation of Vine and Wine, and/or
  • authorised by the EU

The VI-1 document is issued in the third country of origin of the wine by the competent body in the product's country of origin. The original VI-1 and a copy must accompany the wine. When a consignment is split before entry into free circulation in the EU, a VI-2 certificate is issued and stamped by Customs. A VI-2 is an extract of the VI-1 certificate. The original and two copies of the VI-1 extract must accompany the wine.

With few exemptions, most wine imports must be accompanied by a VI-1 document. The exemptions listed in Regulation (EU) 2018/273 are:

  • products in labelled containers of a nominal volume of 10 litres or less fitted with a non-reusable closing device, where the total quantity transported, whether or not made up of separate consignments, does not exceed 100 litres
  • personal use (limits apply)
  • wine and grape juice for trade fairs provided that the products in question are put up in labelled containers of not more than two litres fitted with a non-reusable closing device
  • imported for the purpose of scientific and technical experiments up to a maximum of 100 litres
  • wines for diplomatic use
  • wines held in stores on board of ships and airplanes operating in international transport
  • wines originating and bottled in the EU, exported to a third country and returned to the customs territory of the EU and released for free circulation

The VI-1 document may be replaced by an electronic document if the third countries have in place a system of controls accepted by the EU as equivalent to that set up by the legislation (see list of countries in Section C of Part IV of Annex VII to Regulation (EU) 2018/273.)

In cases where a wine has been exported from the third country in which it was produced to another third country (exporting country) before being exported to the EU, the VI-1 document for the wine is valid for import into the EU if it has been drawn up by the competent bodies of the exporting country, without further analyses on that wine, on the basis of a VI-1 document or equivalent drawn up by the competent bodies of the country of origin of the wine, provided that the wine: 

  • has been bottled and labelled in the country of origin and remains so; or
  • is exported in bulk from the country of origin and bottled and labelled in the exporting country without any further processing.

The original or a certified copy of the VI-1 document or equivalent from the country of origin must be attached to the VI-1 document of the exporting country.

The competent bodies of the third countries for the purposes of this Article are those included in list 6 as  provided for in Article 51(1) of Regulation (EU) 2018/273.

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