Exemptions from excise duties: diplomatic missions, diplomats, consuls, international organisations and institutions of the European Union

Date of issue
2/22/2021

This guide has been updated. As of the beginning of 2021, the act on assessment procedure for self-assessed taxes (Laki oma-aloitteisten verojen verotusmenettelystä 768/2016) is applied on excise taxation. To be in line with this change, references in this guide to legal provisions contain a number of updates. Some parts of the text were rewritten in order to maintain clarity.

Excise duties are levied on energy products, electricity, alcohol, alcoholic beverages, tobacco, soft drinks and beverage containers.

Grounds for a tax exemption

Under § 18 of the Excise Duty Act (182/2010), products supplied in the context of diplomatic and consular relations are exempt from excise duty. Products supplied to an international organisation, as provided in the international treaty for establishing the organisation, or in the agreement that outlines the location of the international organisation’s domicile, are also exempt from excise duty.

Exemption from excise duty also applies to products supplied for official use to an institution of the European Union located in Finland (including fuel for the institution’s motor vehicles, electric power for the institution’s premises, etc.). The total taxable purchase price of these products has to be at least €80. Products supplied to an institution of the European Union located in another Member State are also exempt from excise duty under the same conditions as in Finland.

Specific instructions regarding alcoholic beverages

The determining factor for exemption from excise duty is the intended use of the products containing alcohol.

1. Official use

Diplomatic and other comparable missions, international organisations and institutions of the European Union are entitled to acquire alcoholic beverages exempt from excise duty for official use only. Official use means that alcohol is served by a mission, organisation or institution at their premises or at other specified premises reserved for their use, free of charge, to a specified group of guests invited by an ambassador or another member of the diplomatic staff or other similar person.

If the event is arranged at a restaurant, the use will not be considered official even if the other above requirements are met.

In the same way, no official use is taking place if the event where alcoholic beverages are served is not arranged by the above parties entitled to exemption from excise duty, particularly if the products presented are on sale (e.g. a wine fair or other sales promotion event). Excise duty on alcohol, alcoholic beverages and beverage containers has to be paid for the beverages served at these events, and a temporary wholesale licence granted by the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) is required.

Products subject to excise duty can only be served without paying the excise duty if all the following conditions are met:

  • alcoholic beverages are served free of charge
  • the event is arranged by a diplomatic mission, an international organisation or by an institution of the European Union
  • serving takes place at the premises of the above party or at other specified premises reserved for its use
  • the guests have been invited by an ambassador or another member of the diplomatic staff, or by a representative of an international organisation or of an institution of the European Union
  • the event is intended for a specified group of invited guests

2. Personal use

Diplomatic agents and career consuls posted in Finland are entitled to purchase alcoholic beverages exempt from excise duty for personal use by themselves or their family members living in the same household.

3. Gifts

No excise duty is levied on the alcoholic beverages that diplomatic missions, international organisations, EU institutions and persons entitled to duty-free purchasing buy as gifts.

Purchasing products exempt from excise duty

Making purchases in Finland

A. Buying products under direct exemption from excise duty

  • Diplomatic and other comparable missions, international organisations, posted or located in Finland
    • The buyer has to present to the seller a certificate (often called the “French document”) issued by the Protocol Services of the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs showing that the buyer is entitled to purchases exempt from excise duty.
  • Institutions of the European Union located in Finland and deliveries to EU institutions located in another EU member country
    • If the products are supplied to an institution of the European Union, the institution in question has to present the Excise duty exemption certificate (1330e) of the Tax Administration to confirm its right to purchase the products free from excise duty. The form is to be provided to the seller.

Purchasers who either present the French document or present Form 1330e (Excise duty exemption certificate) of the Tax Administration can buy all excise products duty-free except for electric power that always involves the refund procedure of excise duty. Parties entitled to the exemption can buy products duty-free in a customs warehouse, a free warehouse or an excise warehouse.

Also, when excise products are sold from a customs warehouse or a free warehouse as third country goods, exemption from excise duty can be granted with the French document or the Tax Administration’s Excise duty exemption certificate (1330e).

For sales of alcohol from a tax warehouse, it is also required that the warehouse keeper has a wholesale licence. The holder of a wholesale licence has the right to sell alcohol exempt from excise duty in the context of diplomatic and consular relations, to an international organisation, or to a EU institution.

In the case of acquisitions of energy products, e.g. fuel, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs or the relevant institution of the European Union first approves the French document or, respectively, the Tax Administration’s Excise duty exemption certificate (1330e), and then sends it on to the Tax Administration.

B. Exemption from excise duty through a refund procedure

As for purchases of excise products for which the duty has been paid, exemption can be provided by refunding the paid excise duty on application. Purchasers can submit a free-form application for refund to the Tax Administration. The length of the period covered by the submitted application can be one calendar month or one calendar year. The application must contain a breakdown of the products and quantities that had been purchased and for which a refundable duty had been paid.  Copies of the invoices have to be enclosed to the refund application.

Exemption from excise duty on electricity can only be implemented through a refund procedure. Parties entitled to acquisition of electricity exempt from excise duty can apply for a refund of the paid excise duty on electricity from the Tax Administration. A copy of the electricity bill has to be enclosed to the free-form refund application.

Purchases carried out in other EU member countries

When purchasing excise goods, for which the duty has already been paid in the country of departure, from a shop (e.g. a wholesale wine shop) in another EU country, the purchaser has to complete a VAT and/or Excise Duty Exemption Certificate (Form 9535e Vat and/or excise duty exemption certificate) and have it endorsed by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The form functions as a certificate of exemption from VAT and excise duty when the products are imported to Finland. The certificate is completed in duplicate; one copy is retained by the seller and the other is returned to the buyer together with the products supplied.

If the products were purchased in another EU country, as exempt from excise duty (from a tax warehouse, etc.), they can be transported to Finland under the duty suspension arrangement within the EU. In this case, a photocopy of the exemption certificate (Vat and/or excise duty exemption certificate 9535e) and a commercial document (such as an invoice, contract, etc.) showing the quality and quantity of the products must be submitted to the EMCS Group of the Tax Administration within 30 days from receiving the products. The administrative reference code (ARC) of the e-AD (electronic administrative document) also has to be submitted to the Tax Administration. The code can be found in the e-AD printout accompanying the transport or in other commercial documentation.

The VAT and/or Excise Duty Exemption Certificate is only used for alcohol, tobacco products or energy products. Other excise products, such as soft drinks can be imported to  Finland from other EU countries without the certificate. For making purchases of soft drinks and other excise products, the diplomatic mission or international organisation must have the French document issued by the Protocol Services of the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. To prove that it is entitled to purchases exempt from excise duty, the EU institution must have the Tax Administration’s Excise duty exemption certificate (1330e). These forms and documents must be presented to the Tax Administration on request.

Imports from outside the EU

When excise products are ordered from outside the fiscal territory of the European Union or from third countries, the products have to be declared at the place of import. The French document issued by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, or the Tax Administration Excise duty exemption certificate (1330e) endorsed by the relevant institution of the European Union must be presented when the products are cleared at customs.