1. Definition & classification
According to the Liquor Act, alcoholic drinks refer to substances or mixtures containing alcohol that is intended for drinking, which include products that can be consumed as-is, and products that that contain alcohol but are undrinkable unless diluted first with water or some other liquids. As per the alcohol degree, alcoholic drinks can be further classified into the following two categories:
alcoholic drinks that consist of less than 15% alcohol, like wine and beer.
alcoholic drinks which contain over 15% alcohol such as vodka, rum, and brandy.
2. Competent authorities
Thailand Food and Drug Administration (TFDA)
Ministry of Finance
3. Market access approval
3.1 Import license
Importers are required to apply for approval (i.e. obtaining an import license) from Excise Department under Ministry of Finance. To obtain the import license, the product label and quality indicators should be aligned with corresponding standards. The import permit is valid for three years.
4. Product compliance
As per Ministry of Public Health Notification Re Liquor, alcoholic drinks belong to standardized food, which means they should adhere to quality standards as defined in the relevant regulations.
Notification of the Excise Department Prescribing Quality Standard for Imported Liquor (No.2) specifies the quality standards of beer, wine, sparkling wine made from grapes, fermented liquor, and distilled liquor in terms of their chemical attributes, the use of food additives and the maximum level of contaminants. The testing methods of corresponding substances are stipulated in this Notification as well.
Take beer for example, it should meet the following quality standards:
It is noteworthy that alcoholic drinks are exempted from the labeling requirements for common prepackaged food specified in Ministry of Public Health Notification. Ministry of Public Health Notification Re: Liquor and Notification of the Alcohol Beverage Control Committee Re: Criteria, Procedures, and Conditions for Labels of Alcoholic Beverages B.E. 2558 (2015) are the major referenced regulations for the label compliance of alcoholic drinks.
As per Ministry of Public Health Notification Re: Liquor, the following warning statements should be prominently displayed in Thai on the label of alcoholic drinks sold on the Thai market:
Sale of liquor to whom before the completion of 20 years of age is prohibited;
Drinking liquor will decrease ability in vehicle driving;
Person whose age is less than the completion 20 years should not drink.
In addition, Notification of the Alcohol Beverage Control Committee Re: Criteria, Procedures, and Conditions for Labels of Alcoholic Beverages B.E. 2558 (2015) stipulates the labeling prohibitions for alcoholic drinks, including:
1) Statements that are unfair to consumers or that may adversely affect the society as a whole, such as false or exaggerated information, statement that may cause significant misunderstanding regarding goods or services, etc.
2) Any claims regarding the benefits or positive description of properties and qualities of alcoholic beverages, such as statement that imply the product will lead to social or sexual success, improved physical fitness, or other desirable outcomes; as well as statements or images depicting athletes, celebrities, artists, singers or actors.
6. Selling, consuming and advertising
The sales, consumption and advertisement of alcoholic drinks are strictly regulated by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act. In Thailand, it is prohibited from selling alcoholic drinks at or within the following places:
1) Temple or any place of worship;
2) State public health service unit, infirmary under the law on infirmary, and pharmacy under the law on drug;
3) Public office, except the area designated for the establishment of shop or club;
4) Dormitory under the law on dormitory;
5) Education institution under the law on national education;
6) Petrol station under the law on fuel oil control, and shop within petrol station;
7) Public park provided by the government for public recreation;
8) Other places notified by the minister with approval of the National Alcoholic Beverage Policy Committee.
As per the announcement issued by Prime Minister Office in August 2020, the online sale of alcoholic drinks is also banned in Thailand.
Apart from the above selling places, the consumption scenario of alcoholic drinks are also greatly restricted that no person shall consume alcoholic drinks in the following places or areas:
1) Temple or any place of worship, except where drinking thereof is a part of worship;
2) State public health service unit, infirmary under the law on infirmary, and pharmacy under the law on drug, except the area designated as the living area of individuals;
3) Public office, except the area designated for the establishment of shop or club or in case of conventional banquet;
4) Education institution under the law on national education, except the area designated as the living area of individuals or club, in case of conventional banquet, or education institution providing the course relevant to the mixing of alcoholic beverage permitted under the law on national education;
5) Petrol station under the law on fuel oil control, and shop within petrol station;
6) Public park provided by the government for public recreation;
7) Other places notified by the minister with approval of the National Alcoholic Beverage Policy Committee.
As for advertising, it is not allowed to display the product name, trademark or illustration of alcoholic drinks in a way that encourages consumption. In 2017, Thai government amended the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act that online advertisement of alcoholic drinks was prohibited. Companies were no longer allowed to post drink or bottle with the brand visible, or any posts encouraging people to drink.
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