Distribution of Wine in Latvia

Practical Guide

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Latvia

Latvia a liberal market for entrepreneurship

Latvia is a small, open economy with a highlight on exports, which contribute more than half of its GDP. Due to geographical location, transit services are highly-developed in Latvia, along with timber and wood-processing, agriculture and food products, as well as manufacturing of machinery and electronic industries. In Latvia stable economic growth, which currently exceeds the EU average level, has resumed. From 2011-2017, GDP on average increased by 3.5% annually and GDP per capita of Latvia, within the last decade, has grown by 9.06% and it ranks the country as number 99 in the world.

It is of essence to protect design, style and quality mark

Registration of a trademark

In Latvia registration of a trademark is in general subject to same requirements and process approach as in other countries. Any trademark can be registered on national and international level.

For local registration of a trademark a corresponding application shall be submitted to the Patent Office of the Republic of Latvia, including information on the applicant (owner of the trademark), the symbol (picture) to be registered, list of goods and/or services (according to Nice Classification - WIPO) in relation to which registration of the trademark is required. A single application may require registration of a trademark in respect of one good or service, or for several goods or services.

It shall be noted though that in respect to wines it is not possible, inter alia, to register a sign (symbol) which includes geographical indication or which consists of geographical indication designating specific wines of origin, whereas the wine registration of trademark for which is requested is not of the origin concerned.

Fee for registration of the trademark depends on number of the classes of goods and/or services the trademark is claimed for. Namely, submission of the registration application will cost 90 EUR, plus 30 EUR per each class of goods or services claimed, both fees to be paid when applied. Whereas fee for registration of the trademark 95 EUR shall be paid once the trademark has been acknowledged by the Patent Office as valid for registration. Applying and registration process is ran solely in local language – Latvian, therefore any documents in foreign languages may be submitted to the Patent Office if a certified translation into Latvian is attached.

The date on which the application was received by the Patent Office shall be deemed to be the filing date of the application. In case all documents are submitted; however, any part of the payment is delayed the date of settlement of the required payments shall be deemed as the filing date.

International registration of a trademark shall be subject to same requirements as local trademark unless the international laws and regulations provide for otherwise. In this process when the application for registration of an international trademark is submitted in Latvia the Patent Office of Latvia shall serve as intermediary. Fees in respect to registration of international trademark shall be higher and part of them calculated within the process.

A local trademark would be registered on average within 2-3 months. Whereas, in case the application corresponds to criteria imposed on expedited examination, the application can be reviewed, and the trademark can be registered within 15 working days. However, the international registration of a trademark would be accomplished within 6-9 months.

A trademark can be joint property of several persons. Registered trademark is valid for 10 years, subject to renewal if relevant. In case the registration is cancelled or invalidated, the application fee and registration fee will not be refunded. If, within 5 years as of date of registration of the trademark, use of the trademark has not been commenced, state authorities may require cancellation of the registered trademark (please refer to: Law on Trademarks).

Counterfeiting

Combating of import and distribution of counterfeited goods are subject to laws and regulation of the European Union and supervising authority in this respect is State Revenue Service of the Republic of Latvia. If owner of the intellectual property or its authorised representative submits to the Customs Department opinion regarding infringement of the intellectual property rights, the Customs Department shall be entitled to suspend release of such suspected goods into the market. Goods in respect to which it approves that they are counterfeited are subject to destruction (please refer to: Regulation (EU) No 608/2013).

Labelling of goods

Labelling of goods in Latvia is subject both to local laws and regulations of the Eurpean Union (please refer to: Law on the Circulation of Alcoholic Beverages, Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013, Regulation (EC) No 607/2009, Regulation (EC) No 606/2009, Regulation (EU) No 251/2014). Considering that requirements and conformity with them is rather detailed and complicated, LATSERT, the certification centre of Latvia, helps companies importing and selling goods in understanding the statutory requirements, arranging quality assessment and labelling of goods. Whereas supervising authority in this area is Food and Veterinary Service of Latvia.

Labelling requirements differ for fruit and berry wines, grape wines and flavoured grape wines. However according to general rules, the label of a product shall include information which would be sufficient for a consumer to understand what type of product he/she is acquiring, namely, main characteristics of the product, volume of the package, strength of the wine, information on the manufacturer and distributor/ seller of the product (name, address, phone number). Mandatory requirement to be complied with – for products to be distributed on the Latvian market labelling must be in Latvian language or at least to the label in Latvian should be given priority (please refer to: Consumer Rights Protection Law).

Distribution and marketing of wine are regulated areas

Permission to sell

As a general rule retail and wholesale of alcoholic beverages including wine are operations subject to licensing. Licence can be obtained solely by entrepreneurs registered with the Commercial Register of the Company Register of Latvia, namely, an individual – entrepreneur, a partnership, a limited liability company (share capital 1-2.800,00 EUR) or joint stock company (share capital 35.000,00 EUR). The process of obtaining the licence is rather detailed and requires the applicant to assure involved state authorities that it has infrastructure and resources to perform sale of the products concerned, including submission of financial results and operation justification. License is issued by the state Revenue Service of the Republic of Latvia within a period of 2 weeks up to one month upon receipt of the application. License is issued electronically and it is term–unlimited (please refer to: Law on Circulation of Alcoholic Beverages, Cabinet of Ministers Regulations No 662 Procedure on Circulation of Excise Goods).

Licence can be used solely by the recipient of the licence. Operation with the alcoholic beverages is permitted in the registered address of the manufacturer or seller, which could be legal address or registered structural unit.

The State Revenue Service shall be entitled to refuse issue of the licence if any of the statutory qualifying circumstances are identified inter alia within a year before application for the licence is submitted the applicant has due to breach of statutory requirements lost the licence, the applicant has avoided of tax payments within 3 years before application was submitted, the applicant has submitted with the application for licence false information or if the applicant has operated with excise goods without appropriate licence.

Local municipalities may impose additional requirements and rules on manufacturing and selling of the alcoholic beverages in their territory (please refer to: Law on Procedure of Movement of Excise Goods).

In any case each specific case should be evaluated individually in order find precise statutory rules applicable and best solution for the manufacturing or sales operation performer.

Advertising

Alcoholic beverages are subject to very strict advertising requirements.

First, at least 10 percent of the amount of an ad must include warning to the public regarding negative impact of alcohol consumption, as well as must inform that sale, acquisition and handing over of alcoholic beverages to minors is prohibited. The information must be provided in black letters on a white foundation, provided the text is occupying technically possible largest part of the section used for the text.

These restrictions do not apply on trademarks, as well as basic information on alcoholic beverages (name, price, volume of product, and other information of importance to the consumer) in the place of sale, production and storage of alcoholic beverages and on household items when such used as advertisement carriers.

Second, there are number of items, images and information which cannot be used in advertising alcoholic beverages (people consuming alcohol, statement that alcohol is for medical purposes, make impression that consumption of alcohol helps in social life etc.).

Third, there are several restrictions in respect to sponsorship. Such as, ads in respect to sports or entertainment events for children should not include information of the alcoholic beverage supporting the event.

And last but not least advertising of alcoholic beverages is prohibited inter alia on public transportation, outdoor media and on outside cover of books and magazines.

Customs

Taxation

Wine as majority of goods for sale shall be subject to value added tax and as an excise product shall be subject to excise tax. Excise taxpayers are importers and other statutory listed persons who purchase, import and sell excise goods. There is statutorily set calculation mechanism for the excise tax rate, in particular wine shall be subject to tax in amount of 111 EUR per 100 liters (please refer to: Law on Excise Tax). Frequency of tax payments depends on taxpayer status of the holder of the goods. All alcoholic beverages shall be marked with excise duty stamps, except if explicitly provided for otherwise by the applicable law (please refer to: Law on Excise Tax).

The standard VAT rate applied on goods is 21%. In case of import other VAT rules may be applicable (please refer to: Law on Value Added Tax).

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