Show download pdf controls
  • COVID-19 changes – excisable alcohol

    To support businesses affected by COVID-19, across 2020 we had flexible arrangements in place for the production of hand sanitiser and for takeaway alcoholic beverages.

    We will now be resuming normal arrangements. Updated information is provided below about our transition approach.

    We remain committed to supporting businesses meet their tax obligations. Contact us if you:

    • need support to meet your tax obligations
    • have questions about the previous support arrangements.

    On this page:

    Production of hand sanitiser

    From early 2020, in response to the increased demand for hand sanitiser, we relaxed and streamlined the excise licensing and permit rules relating to the production, supply and use of alcohol for hand sanitisers. This enabled support for increased production and supply of hand sanitiser.

    From 1 February 2021, these excise licensing and permit rules will return to normal arrangements.

    Hand sanitiser does not usually attract excise, as its alcohol content has typically been treated (denatured) to make it unfit for human consumption. Denatured spirit may also be suitable for making other commercial cleaning products and can be purchased without restriction.

    There are regulatory requirements that apply to the production and use of concessional spirits. You will need to apply for an ATO permit to purchase (undenatured) spirit from licensed manufacturers for use in the commercial production of hand sanitiser.

    Licensed distillers

    Distillers who already hold an excise manufacturer licence to produce or distil spirits can produce hand sanitiser and report it by using the free-rate tariff item on their excise return. However, you will need to hold an ATO-issued concessional spirit permit.

    Next step:

    Existing concessional spirit permit holders

    Existing permit holders will need to contact us to organise any changes to the quantity of spirits they wish to obtain.

    Next step:

    Other entities

    Other excise-licensed entities (for example, breweries) that want to produce their own spirit for the purposes of producing hand sanitiser, will need to apply for an amendment to their licence. You will also require an ATO permit to use spirit for the purposes of producing hand sanitiser. We aim to prioritise these applications.

    Once approved, if you produce spirit for the purposes of producing hand sanitiser, you are required to report it using the free-rate tariff item on your excise return.

    Next steps:

    Other non-licensed entities, such as hospitals, pharmacists, health care practitioners, education institutions, and government institutions can all receive an unrestricted amount of concessional spirits to meet their manufacturing, scientific or medical needs. This does not require a permit.

    For new entrants to the market, regulations concerning the safe and proper handling, storage, transport and use of dangerous goods such as spirit, are governed by other relevant local, state and federal bodies. You will need to contact the relevant body in your state or territory for further information.

    Takeaway alcoholic beverages

    During COVID-19 restrictions, some state and territory liquor licensing requirements were relaxed to allow the sale of takeaway alcoholic beverages.

    We assisted businesses by allowing flexibility for alcohol repackaging under specific situations that would normally have required an excise manufacturer licence and payment of excise duty. These situations were where alcohol service venues:

    • repackaged duty-paid kegged beer for takeaway sale in sealed containers (such as growlers)
    • used duty-paid alcoholic beverages to make ‘cocktails’ for takeaway sale in sealed containers.

    This arrangement applied from 23 March 2020 until 31 January 2021.

    After 31 January 2021, if you wish to continue repackaging alcohol for sale in takeaway, sealed containers, you will need to apply to us for the appropriate excise licence and permissions.

    Find out about:

    General support for businesses affected by COVID-19

    We continue to offer tailored support for your needs and situation on a case-by-case basis.

    For more information, see COVID-19.

    Last modified: 20 Jan 2021QC 63541