Individual foreign liquor quota increased to 80 litres


Sri Lanka Excise Department has increased the amount of foreign liquor an individual could possess or transport up to 80 litres from the previous allowance of 7.5 litres with immediate effect.

Issuing a press communique, the department announced yesterday that under the Excise Notice 05 /2019 of September 27, 2019, issued by the subject Minister of Finance had made the order be effective to the entire country.

A spokesman for the Excise Department, Deputy Commissioner Kapila Kumarasinghe told the media that this new regulation will pertain only for the foreign liquor and not any local liquor. The quota of local liquor an individual could keep or transport remains at 7.5 litres as per the Excise Ordinance.

According to the amendment, all foreign liquor including whiskey, brandy, gin, vodka, rum, sparkling and medicinal wines, light and strong beers, lager and ales, champagne etc. will be subjected to this law.

He said since 1913 to 2015 there had been no law governing the amount of foreign liquor an individual could keep until a new quota was set at 7.5 litres, similar to that of the local liquor quota one could have or transport.

But with this new law Excise Department as well as the Ministry of Finance received a number of complaints from all quarters requesting to reconsider the newly set up limit. Many agitated individuals who had personal collections of foreign liquor questioned as to what could be the solution to this problem.

Mr. Kumarasinghe said the Ministry had made a proposal to the department three months ago to reconsider amending the personal allowance of foreign liquor concerning many common factors.

Many local expatriate workers bring foreign liquor to the country whenever they return to the country, whilst some like to maintain personal mini bars at home. There are collectors of foreign liquor in a country that own expensive limited-edition liquor brands.

However, the most common issue was that those who collect liquor bottles for special functions of their kit and kin or for their own wedding ceremonies. It is very common for people to collect up to 10 to 20 or more foreign liquor bottles for their special events, which is far exceeding the previous allowance.

The law was set up in 2015 as 7.5 litres the maximum amount of foreign liquor an individual could keep over the growing issue of large sums of such stuff being smuggled into the country through various unlawful channels.

To curb this issue the Excise Department introduced a special sticker to be pasted on every foreign liquor bottle that made available through airport duty-free shops as well as local supermarket wine stores.

However, this law of having the sticker was not stringent on those who would bring foreign liquor bottles from abroad as long as they could prove the goods they carry is for bona fide usage or consumption and not for commercial purposes.

The spokesman reminded that this amendment was made purely concerning the genuine requests of public and in any case sale of such foreign liquor is strictly prohibited and a punishable offence under the Excise Ordinance.