Beer that is produced in Austria or that is imported into Austria from another EU Member State or from a third country is subject to beer duty. This entails an obligation to obtain approval for the commercial production, storage, processing and/or untaxed transfer of beer and to submit a beer duty return. Movement of beer that is in free circulation with other EU Member States must be notified in advance to the customs authorities. Movements under duty suspension to or from other EU Member States or within Austria must be handled under the Excise Movement and Control System (EMCS). Beer as defined by the Beer Duty Act means beers made of malt and specific blends of non-alcoholic drinks and beer (‘shandies’, in German ‘Radler’).
For private tax free imports, attention should be paid to the relevant indicative quantities for those entering from EU Member States and the duty-free quantities from third countries.
Tax rate, basis of calculation
Beer duty is calculated from the quantity in hectolitres and the original wort content of the beer in degrees Plato. One degree Plato is defined as the original wort content of the beer in grams per 100 grams of beer.
The tax rate is EUR 2 per degree Plato for every hectolitre. For legally and economically independent small breweries, reduced tax rates (at 60 percent to 90 percent of the normal tax rate, depending on the annual production level) are applicable.
In calculating beer duty, the basis of calculation is essentially the quantity corresponding to the nominal contents of the relevant bottles or cans. For beer in calibrated transport containers with a capacity of up to one hectolitre (e.g. beer barrels), the quantity is taken to be the officially calibrated and designated capacity of the container. For beer sold direct to the consumer in other, non-calibrated transport containers, the basis is the quantity corresponding to the volume. If the beer is in none of the above-mentioned transport containers, then the tax liability arises on the quantity actually present. If the quantity in such cases is calculated from the dead weight, then one kilogram is deemed equivalent to one litre.
If its use has been approved in advance by the customs authority responsible (from 1 January 2021, the Austrian Customs Authority), beer may be exempted from beer duty if it is used:
- for the production of vinegar
- in denatured form for the manufacture of products other than foodstuffs (e.g. shampoo)
- for the production of foodstuffs, as long as the alcohol content does not exceed five litres pure alcohol per 100 kg of product
- for the production of medicines.
Any business which supplies beer freely circulating in another EU Member State, in which the business has its registered office, to private persons within the tax territory, and which itself dispatches these goods to the purchasers or arranges such dispatch, is providing a mail-order service. The beer duty liability arises upon delivery of the beer to the private individual in the tax territory. The person liable for the tax is the mail-order merchant.
Anyone wishing to supply beer by mail order to the Austrian tax territory must notify the Innsbruck customs office (from 1 January 2021, the Austrian Customs Authority) of every supply. If beer is supplied by mail-order on a more than occasional basis, the customs office can, on request, issue a general permit for supplies into the tax territory. For more information on mail-order, please contact the customs office.
Obligation to submit a tax return
The beer duty return is a tax return that needs to be made on the basis of self-assessment. The person liable for the tax must submit an electronic excise duty return (EVA) by the 25th day of each calendar month to the customs authority responsible for the region in which the business is located (from 1 January 2021, the Austrian Customs Authority). This return must show the total quantities of beer, divided into their tax classes. It must state the quantity placed into free circulation, the quantity moved under duty suspension, the quantity transferred to a tax-exempt status and the quantity withdrawn for consumption. The self-assessment in the tax return can also include deductions of beer duty due for repayment or reimbursement.
The person liable for the tax must submit a specific electronic excise duty return (EVA) for each individual tax warehouse, defined by location or in terms of the permit issued. A tax return must be submitted even for months in which no movements took place in the tax warehouse (a zero return).
In order to be granted approval to operate a tax warehouse (whether a production or a storage operation) or to be a registered recipient or a utilisation operation, the application including all supporting documents required must be submitted to the locally responsible customs authority (from 1 January 2021, the Austrian Customs Authority). Once approval(s) have been granted, the EMCS and EVA can be accessed using the excise duty number via FinanzOnline or USP.
Goods in free circulation
Beer is treated as being in free circulation specifically
- if the duty suspension procedure is terminated without being succeeded by another duty suspension procedure
- in cases of commercial production outside of a duty suspension procedure.
The purchase and dispatch of beer from other EU Member States in free circulation is subject to the purchase being for commercial purposes.
Excise Movement under duty suspension (EMCS)
Excise Movement under duty suspension may only take place using EMCS, the electronic movement and control system.
Movement to or from other EU Member States of goods in free circulation
If beer is purchased from another EU Member State for commercial purposes, the tax liability arises from the fact that the purchaser receives the beer within the tax territory or brings or causes to be brought into the tax territory beer that was received outside the tax territory. Prior notification to the customs authority responsible is required. Purchase for commercial purposes must be notified to the customs authority on the appropriate form before the goods are dispatched. Once the tax liability has been settled in the tax territory, the excise duty in the dispatching EU Member State can be repaid on application. Movements from or to other EU Member States must be made using a simplified accompanying document or a comparable trade document compliant with Regulation No 3649/92.
- Biersteuergesetz (BierStG)
- Verordnung des Bundesministeriums für Finanzen betreffend das Verfahren der Beförderung von verbrauchsteuerpflichtigen Waren unter Steueraussetzung
- System directive:Directive 2008/118/EC concerning the general arrangements for excise duty
- Approval for a production operation – Application (VSt 18)German text
- Approval for a warehousing operation – Application (VSt 19)German text
- Approval as a registered recipient – Application (VSt 20)German text
- Supplementary sheet for additional delivery addresses (VSt 20-1)German text
- Prior notification of purchase of goods in free circulation (for commercial purposes) – Application (VSt 21)German text
- Utilisation operations, natural and legal persons (VSt 23)German text
- Bank guarantee for registered recipients – Application (VSt 15)German text
- Bank guarantee for tax warehouses – Application (VSt 16)German text
- Notification of production of goods in free circulation (VSt 25)German text
- Tax rebate or reimbursement on transfer for commercial purposes into other Member States or third countries (prior notification – VSt 26)
responsible for content: Federal Ministry of Finance