Test purchases


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.

Results 2021

In 2021, 8,038 traditional test purchases and 341 online test purchases were counted. This figure represents one of the best results in terms of participation rate in the period 2009-2021.

Regarding traditional test purchases, in 2021 they resulted in the sale of alcohol in 33.5% of cases, which is a sharp increase compared to previous years, especially compared to 2018 and 2019 (reference years, as no pandemic), where the rates were around 28%. These poor results are attributed, among other things, to the mandatory use of masks during this year, which made the task of sales staff more difficult.

In 72.4% of cases, sales or service staff conducted a verbal age check or asked for identification.

On online test purchases: Not only was age verification significantly lower for online orders than for traditional test purchases, but when age was known, alcohol was sold in most cases. Alcohol was delivered to 75.0% of test-purchasers who had truthfully stated their age at the time of ordering (n=16), and to 58.6% of test-purchasers who had stated their age at the time of delivery (n=29).

Results vary by point of sales

As in previous years, the results of the test purchases conducted in 2021 varied by point of sales.

Gas stations were less likely to sell alcohol (23.5% sales), while bars were the outlet type with the highest sales rate (38.1%). Test purchases in restaurants or cafés resulted in 32.9% sales, slightly less than chain shops (34.6%). For events, the sales rate was 31.0%.


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.


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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