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Excise licences for excisable alcohol

How to get an excise licence to manufacture, produce, or store underbond alcohol products and tell us of changes.

Last updated 27 June 2023

When you need an excise licence

If you manufacture, produce or store underbond alcohol products in Australia, you need an excise licence. There are different types of excise licences for particular situations.

To manufacture, produce or store underbond goods without an excise licence is an offence under the Excise Act 1901 and criminal penalties may apply.

Make sure you understand:

  • what excise licences you need to hold for your business or situation
  • the conditions of the licences you hold
  • your obligations as an excise licence holder.

There are no application or renewal fees for excise licences. However, we may impose additional conditions on your licence or ask you to lodge a financial security. This is so we can ensure we protect excise duty revenue.

A financial security can be a bond, bank guarantee, cash deposit or similar financial product (or any combination given in a form and manner we approve) for an amount of money which may be forfeited if there is a failure to comply with your excise obligations. There is no statutory limit to the amount of a security, but the amount is generally set by reference to the level of revenue at risk.

How to apply for an excise licence

Find out the excise licence you need and apply for a:

Manufacturer licence

You need a manufacturer licence to:

  • manufacture beer
  • distil spirits (we do not grant licences to distil spirits for personal consumption)
  • undertake maturation of spirits, including when you have already paid excise or customs duty on them
  • blend or reduce the strength of spirits, including when you have already paid excise or customs duty on them
  • manufacture liqueurs and other excisable beverages
  • repackage beer
  • store the excisable alcohol products you manufacture at your excise-licensed premises
  • denature alcohol
  • add flavours or colours to excisable products (such as in-line mixing as part of packaging into bottles, cans or kegs), including when you have already paid excise or customs duty on them.

Among other things, a manufacturer licence will specify the:

  • conditions attached to the licence including product restrictions
  • type of excisable alcohol products you can manufacture
  • location of the premises
  • activities you can do with those goods.
Apply for a licence to manufacture excisable products – alcohol

Repackaging duty-paid beer

Packaging isn't a manufacturing process for excise purposes. However, manufacturing beer has an extended meaning to cover if you are repackaging beer that was previously entered at a concessional rate.

You need a manufacturer's licence if you:

  • buy beer in kegs or containers (that has been duty paid at aa concessional rate)
  • repackage it into individual sealed containers that are   
    • less than 8 litres
    • 8 – 48 litres (inclusive), where the container is not designed to connect to a pressurised gas or pump delivery system, or other prescribed system.

An exemption to this applies to the first 10,000 litres of beer repackaged at a particular premises where the:

  • beer is repackaged into exempt beer containers for the purposes of retail sale
  • retail sale occurs immediately after repackaging.

For businesses that repackage beer at more than one premises, each premises is subject to its own threshold in terms of the volume of repackaged beer.

An exempt beer container is:

  • a sealed individual container
  • no more than 2 litres
  • not pressurised.

Storage licence

You need a storage licence to store underbond excisable goods.

Excisable goods are underbond if excise duty has not yet been paid.

Among other things, a storage licence will specify:

  • the conditions that apply to this licence
  • the type of excisable alcohol products you can store
  • the location the goods can be stored
  • the activities, if any, you can do with those goods.
Apply for a licence to store excisable products – alcohol

Licence to brew on premises

If you brew beer for non-commercial purposes using commercial facilities or equipment – for example, brew on premises shops – it will be subject to excise duty.

It is the responsibility of the operator or proprietor of the shop to hold an excise licence and pay the excise duty, even though shop customers are brewing the beer.

Apply for a licence to brew on premises

Licence for duty-free sales

To store excisable alcohol products and sell these products duty free, you need a licence to do so.

Apply for a licence to store excisable goods with permission to sell duty-free

How long the licence lasts

Your licence will be valid from the day we grant it until the next 30 September after the second anniversary of the day we grant it (unless we cancel it earlier).

For example, if we granted a licence on:

  • 1 September 2021, it expires on 30 September 2023.
  • 1 October 2020, it also expires on 30 September 2023.

If we renew your licence it will be valid for 3 years, expiring on 30 September of the relevant year.

When we may suspend or cancel your licence

Your licence remains in force until it expires or is cancelled.

Licence suspension

If we suspend your licence, the activities you are approved to do under your licence will be restricted. The grounds for suspension and cancellation are effectively the same. Suspension may be temporary or may lead to the cancellation of your licence.

Licence cancellation

We can cancel your excise licence when:

  • you ask us to (for example, where you intend to cease business)
  • we decide to because one or more of the following occurs   
    • you are not fit and proper as an individual or company
    • you are the associate of an individual or a company that is not fit and proper
    • a person who participates in the management or control of the premises specified in the licence is not fit and proper
    • a director, officer or shareholder who participates in the management or control of the company is not a fit and proper person
    • you don't have, or have available to you, the skills and experience required to carry out the activity authorised by the licence
    • the physical security of the premises is inadequate
    • the plant and equipment used at the premises are inadequate to protect the excise revenue related to the goods at the premises
    • you have no market for the goods covered by the licence
    • you aren't complying with your record-keeping requirements
    • you have breached a condition of your licence
    • you have made a false or misleading statement to us
    • cancellation is needed to protect the related excise revenue
    • cancellation is needed to ensure you comply with the excise law.

For more information, see Excise guidelines for the alcohol industry – section 4 Licensing and cancellation.

Your obligations as a licence holder

Your licence will detail all of your obligations and explain what you need to do. These obligations must be complied with or we may suspend or cancel your licence.

As a licence holder your general obligations include:

Other obligations for excisable alcohol

If you manufacture excisable alcohol you also have to measure alcohol volume and strength to correctly work out the amount of excise duty you need to pay. This is in addition to the general obligations for all excise licence holders.

Obtaining licence information for third parties

You can contact us for information about the excise licences and permissions of third parties you deal with.

Other permissions

If you're in business, you may also need other licences and permissions. For more information, see:

Tell us if you change or cease your business

If you hold an excise licence and you change or cease your business operations, you need to tell us within 30 days however, you are encouraged to notify us at the earliest opportunity. This will let us help you to check your records and identify any underbond stock on hand prior to the closure of the site.

You must tell us of changes to your business such as:

  • change in ownership
  • change in people who manage or control your business or premises
  • criminal charge or conviction of you or others who manage or control your business or premises
  • receivership, administration, liquidation or bankruptcy
  • change in premises
  • changes that substantially affect the physical security of the premises or plant and equipment used in relation to excisable goods at the premises
  • changes to the type of excisable goods you manufacture or store (including excise equivalent goods (EEGs) used in excise manufacture)
  • if you stop manufacturing or storing excisable goods.

Ceasing your business operation

As a condition of your excise licence, you must write to us within 30 days of ceasing to operate your business to request we cancel your licence.

Before we cancel your licence, we need to ensure you no longer have any underbond excisable goods or excise equivalent goods (EEGs). To do this we may:

  • conduct a final audit of goods at the excise-licensed premises
  • work out if you're liable to pay any excise or customs duty.

If you want to sell your business with the stock included, we can try and coordinate to cancel your licence while we approve the licence for the new owner. That way there will be continuity of licensing for the premises and goods. However, this doesn't mean we will automatically grant the new owner a licence.

If you don't intend to sell the goods with your business, you can either:

  • pay any outstanding excise duty or customs duty on goods held at the excise-licensed premises and then dispose of the goods as you wish
  • move the goods to another licence holder's premises if you have permission from us.

If you're ceasing your excise activities and closing your business permanently, you'll also need to cancel your GST and ABN registration.

For more information, see Changing, pausing, closing or selling your business.

Understand your responsibilities if your business holds an excise licence and stocks excisable alcohol.

Understand the requirements and conditions of a permit to receive concessional spirits.