Online Alcohol Sales in Finland: How to Ensure Age Verification

In Finland, there's a proposal to enable consumers to purchase alcohol online.

One crucial requirement for allowing the delivery of alcoholic beverages to people’s homes is the implementation of a secure online age verification process.

In this blog post, we will look into the proposed legal changes and explore how Mobiilivarmenne and Finnish Bank IDs, facilitated by the Finnish Trust Network, can be used for age verification checks.

Age verification for alcohol home delivery

It's currently not possible to purchase alcohol online in Finland since the age of the buyer can be difficult to verify. However, there have been issues with minors avoiding this by buying alcohol online from international providers instead.

In 2021, underage consumers managed to acquire alcohol online from suppliers abroad, without secure age verification. Some of the platforms relied solely on a self-reported checkbox for age confirmation, which isn't deemed sufficiently secure by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

This is similar to Denmark, where the current law requires individuals to confirm their age through a checkbox without verification when purchasing alcohol online. It is due to change in the near future, perhaps as early as October 1, 2024.

The upcoming regulation

In 2023, the Finnish government proposed amendments to alcohol laws aimed at increasing market competition. As part of these changes, retailers will have the opportunity to sell alcohol online, as long as they conduct secure age checks.

Here’s what the government document “Strong and caring Finland” says about online alcohol sales and age control:

  • Alko and domestic actors with a retail sales permit will also be enabled to conduct online alcohol sales and other retail sales concepts based on distribution and pickup, ensuring age limit control.

To ensure a smooth implementation, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and The National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) investigated the challenges of online alcohol sales.

Secure age verification checks are a primary concern identified by THL and Valvira. In a 2023 survey, 84% of the Finnish population were in favor of the current age restrictions on alcohol purchases, which makes them even more important to follow.

When it comes to age checks, THL and Valvira recommend:

  • Age must be verified both at the time of purchase and upon delivery, and delivery must not be made unless it is in person.

Continue reading: Why your business needs a strong age verification system.

Age verification with Bank ID and Mobiilivarmenne

To comply with future regulations, online retailers will have to digitally verify their customers at the point of purchase.

In Finland, the Finnish Bank IDs and Mobiilivarmenne (Mobile ID) are widely used for secure online identity verification and always includes the user's birthdate.

This makes the Finnish Bank IDs and Mobiilivarmenne effective and user-friendly age-verification options for platforms that sell alcohol online.

eID access through Finnish Trust Network

Verifying users with Bank ID or Mobiilivarmenne is done through an integration with Finnish Trust Network (FTN). FTN was introduced in 2019 and replaced TUPAS as the main identity provider. TUPAS could not comply with the new Finnish data protection regulations and the eIDAS requirements introduced in Europe.

FTN is now utilized in thousands of public and private services in Finland. FTN is an exceptionally flexible identity service that lets companies verify ages and identities by collecting all of Finland's eIDs on a single platform.

As a digital identity provider, we help businesses and organizations integrate FTN into their workflow:

Conclusion

The upcoming regulatory changes will change how Finnish citizens purchase alcohol online.

The implementation of secure age checks at both the point of purchase and delivery will help ensure that only consumers of legal age can access alcohol online.

Finnish Bank IDs and Mobiilivarmenne through FTN are two efficient methods to ensure secure digital age verification.

Continue reading to learn more about age verification:

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