Selling and serving alcoholic beverages

Commercial purposes

Retail permit

If you wish to sell spirits in a shop or serve spirits in a restaurant or distribute them online or sell them in fast food stores, you will need a retail permit. This permit must be applied for from the competent canton, i.e., the canton in which trade will be conducted. You will find the list of offices responsible for issuing retail permit below under «Information».

Age limits

In the case of selling and serving spirits, you must abide by the age limits. It is prohibited to sell spirits to under 18s.

Rules on advertising

In addition, you should acquaint yourself with the advertising regulations; happy hours or price comparisons for spirits, for example, are not allowed.

Trade ban

In accordance with Article 41 of the Alcohol Act, retail trade in distilled spirits is prohibited:

  • itinerant sales;
  • sales on roads and squares accessible to the public, unless the cantonal licence makes an exception for consumption in the vicinity of hotels and restaurants;
  • peddling;
  • taking and carrying out collective orders;
  • visiting consumers, without their having asked to do so, for the purpose of taking orders;
  • sale through vending machines accessible to the public;
  • selling at prices that do not cover costs, except in the case of goods ordered by the authority;
  • sales involving gifts or other advantages tending to seduce the consumer;
  • to children and adolescents under the age of 18;
  • free distribution of distilled beverages for advertising purposes to an indeterminate number of people, in particular by distributing samples or organizing tasting sessions.

The cantons are responsible for all matters relating to the spirits trade. You will find a list of the competent cantonal authorities below under «Information». 

Private individuals

For sales by private individuals to other private individuals, it is best to find out from the competent canton from which amounts you require a retail permit.


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

Print contact