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Estonia - Availability

Alcohol availability is the area where Estonia, together with other Baltic countries, differs the most compared to Nordic countries. 

Based on the information from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications as of April 2018 there were 228.9 registered retail shops selling strong alcohol per 100 000 inhabitants in Estonia. At the same time, there were only 15 such shops in Iceland, 6.1 in Norway and 4.4 in Sweden. That difference comes from retail monopoly systems in Nordic countries.


Night time sales ban - 2008

A major change concerning alcohol availability took place in 2008 when the Parliament of Estonia approved amendments to the nation's Alcohol Act that introduced time restrictions on the sale of alcohol. According to amendment, alcohol can be purchased only between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. Before 2008, application of such restrictions was wholly in the jurisdiction of local municipalities. There are more than 200 municipalities in Estonia, and thus, it was relatively easy to obtain alcoholic beverages from a nearby municipality without a sales restriction. This rendered the existing municipality-based restrictions ineffective.


New restrictions were also introduced regarding minors. The previous provision, which allowed juveniles to carry alcohol in closed containers, was repealed, and a ban on carrying alcohol by those who are under 18 years of age was imposed. The law obligates a guardian or custodian of a minor to ensure that he has no alcoholic beverages in his immediate possession. However, the handling of alcohol by minors within the course of their employment is allowed.

Restrictions on alcohol point of sale displays - 2019

Starting June 1 2019, restrictions are in place on displaying alcoholic drinks in Estonian stores, which both separate them from other products, and restrict their visibility from outside the point of sale.

The new arrangement is aimed at keeping customers from being "inevitably exposed" to alcoholic beverages and includes restricting product visibility from the rest of the sales area when once inside a store, unless that store's size makes this impractical.

Alcohol Act: 

"Alcoholic beverages shall be placed separately from other goods in a shop. Alcoholic beverages shall not be placed so as to inevitably expose consumers to them when visiting the shop and the display of alcoholic beverages shall not be noticeably visible from the rest of the sales area, unless the compliance with those requirements is not reasonably feasible due to the size of the sales area."


"The display of alcoholic beverages shall not be noticeably visible from outside the place of business."


"Presentation of alcoholic beverages is permitted in a place of business specialised in the sale of alcoholic beverages, at a trade fair, fair or some other similar event with the exception of a location and duration of an event intended mainly for children. Presentation of alcoholic beverages is permitted in the alcohol section of a shop if the presentation of alcoholic beverages is not noticeably visible from the rest of the sales area."

"Retail sale of alcoholic beverage is prohibited on the premises and in the territories of the following persons, authorities and organisations:

pre-school child care institutions, basic schools, upper secondary schools, vocational educational institutions, youth work institutions, youth associations, hobby schools, youth camps and youth project camps;

health care providers;

social welfare institutions;

custodial institutions;

the Defence Forces."

"Retail sale of alcoholic beverage is prohibited:
 1) in excise warehouses;
 2) in motor vehicles used to provide passenger transport services;
 3) in peddling (retailing by hand or using barrows, hand baskets, portable trays or boxes);
 4) at the location of events for children during the time of such events."

"Retail sale of alcoholic beverages from stands or in street or market trading is prohibited. In order to ensure that the said prohibition is observed, it is prohibited to possess or store alcohol in stands or on sales premises for market or street trading regardless of the ownership of such alcohol or the purpose of possession or storage of such alcohol."

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