The law prohibits the sale of beer and wine to young people under the age of 16 and spirits to persons under the age of 18 (in Canton Ticino, the sale of all alcoholic beverages is prohibited to persons under the age of 18).
The main purpose of the test purchases is prevention, as they serve to make sales staff aware of the ban on handing out alcoholic beverages to young people under 16 or 18 years of age. In the absence of a legal basis, the results of these purchases cannot be used as evidence in criminal proceedings or lead to the imposition of a fine. They may, however, be followed by administrative measures such as the withdrawal of the patent. Test purchases are carried out both by private institutions and by the authorities.
The Federal Office for Customs and Border Security FOCBS publishes an annual report on the practice of alcohol test purchases in Switzerland.
In 2022, 9712 classic test purchases and 285 online test purchases were recorded. This is one of the best results in terms of participation in the period 2009-2022.
Classic test purchases:
In 2022, they the led to the sale of alcohol in 27.2% of cases. In 79.8% of cases, the sales or service staff carried out a verbal age verification or asked for ID.
As in previous years, the results of the test purchases carried out in 2022 varied depending on the sales outlet:
Alcohol was sold less frequently at petrol stations (16.5% of sales), while bars were the outlet type with the highest sales rate (30.8%). Test purchases in restaurants or cafés resulted in sales in 28.9% of visits, slightly less than in chain shops (26.3%). At events, the sales rate was 40.4%.
Online test purchases:
The online test purchases were conducted in two different ways: test purchases in online shops and test purchases on the websites of food outlets. In the test purchases carried out in online shops, alcohol could have been purchased in at least 92.7% of cases. The age was checked in a maximum of 7.3% of cases. In the online test purchases carried out at restaurants and take-aways, the alcohol was delivered to the test purchasers in 84.0% of cases. The age was checked at the time of ordering in 0% of cases, and at the time of delivery in only 19.1% of cases.
As a reference for the whole of Switzerland, the test purchasing guide contains many practical guidelines. These allow cantons, communes, cities and non-governmental organisations to carry out their test purchases on an identical basis and to compare the data collected with the results of other authorities. The guide includes the projects and foundations that the Blue Cross, cantonal authorities and prevention organisations have created and that have already proven their worth in the field.
Electronic platform for data entry
Used throughout Switzerland, the www.tkdb.ch platform is based on a Blue Cross model. It allows for coordinated and standardised data entry.
The platform makes it possible to develop questionnaires and select topics according to the various target groups. It can also be used for test purchases of other products such as games or cigarettes. Security is guaranteed because the data is stored in a space reserved for users.