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Alcohol is not always alcohol

For historical reasons, not all types of alcohol are subject to the Alcohol Act, which was enacted at the end of the 19th century to curb the excessive consumption of hard liquor. The Alcohol Act governs all distilled spirits, liqueur wines, brandies, aperitifs and high-grade alcohol for industrial purposes (ethanol). However, the classical fermented beverages such as beer, wine, cider and perry are not affected by the Alcohol Act.

You will find information on spirits in this section; interesting facts on the taxation and importation of beer can be found in the Alcohol duties and prepaid disposal fees section > Beer tax. The Federal Office for Agriculture is responsible for wine, and provides corresponding information on its website (in German, French and Italian).

History of the alcohol issue and policy

The Swiss Alcohol Board (SAB) was created in 1887 with the introduction of the Alcohol Act. Up to the end of 2017, the SAB was responsible for the implementation of the «law on distilled spirits», as the Alcohol Act is accurately called. The SAB was integrated into the Federal Office for Customs and Border Security FOCBS at the start of 2018.

The book «Intoxication and order»* provides detailed, carefully researched and richly illustrated information about the history of the alcohol issue, Switzerland's alcohol policy and the SAB from 1887 to 2015.

*Only available in French, German and Italian.


Federal Office for Customs and Border Security FOCBS
Alcohol Sector
Route de la Mandchourie 25
2800 Delémont

+41 58 462 65 00
+41 58 463 18 28

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