Can I Brew and Sell My Own Beer?

June 23, 2006

I have been interested for some time in brewing beers and would like to know about laws on making and selling small volumes of home-brewed beer in Costa Rica. Thanks.

 

Kyle Badgley

Puerto Jiménez

 

We assume you already possess the brewing skills and don’t need our advice on that count.

If selling your homemade brew is your goal, you’ll need to deal with several government agencies, including the health and tax authorities and your local government, in your case, the Municipality of Golfito. (Keep in mind that this is only for beer; production of any distilled beverage requires permission from the National Liquor Factory.)

Heidi Peña of the Public Health Ministry’s Registry and Controls Unit, which oversees the manufacture and sale of food and beverages, told The Tico Times you would need to register your beer as a new food product at a cost of $100. Registration forms can be downloaded at the ministry’s Web site (www.ministeriodesalud.go.cr) or obtained in person at branch offices in Puerto Jiménez. Inspection of your facilities, both initial and periodic follow-up, can be carried out through the ministry’s local offices.

Numerous taxes apply, some general, others specific to alcoholic beverages, according to Vilma Mora, assistant director of the Office of Information in the General Tax Administration. The first step is to register with the office for the sale of a new product on its form D-140. An across-the board selective alcohol tax of 10% combines with a specific tax of 1.80 colones per milliliter of volume on beverages containing up to 15% alcohol. Higher specific-tax gradations pertain to beverages with greater alcohol content. Mora says the specific tax is reevaluated each quarter and frequently changes.

In addition to Costa Rica’s general 13% sales tax, the government levies two other sales taxes on beer: a 5% tax goes to the Agricultural Development Institute (IDA); another 3% tax benefits the Institute for Municipal Development (IFAM). Of course, you must also pay income tax on your sales.

The final step in the process takes place with an issuance at the municipal level of a certificado del suelo, a catchall, make-sure everything- is-in-place document, according to Rocío Guevara of Municipality of Golfito. Your local government will ensure that you have met all the tax and health ministries’ requirements and that your business has a cédula, along with the proper local registration and permits to operate there.

Everyone with whom we spoke answered, “No, it’s not necessary,” to our query about the need to use an attorney to navigate these complicated-sounding processes.

Selling the product is the key point to all this complexity. If you make beer in small quantities for home consumption only, and take nothing of value in exchange for the goods, the above doesn’t apply.

Either way, happy brewing. And next time we’re down your way, “Roll out the barrel,” as the song goes. We’ll stop by for a sample.

 

As a service to Tico Times readers, “Get Action” will answer questions, solve problems, bridge language gaps and just generally help wherever it can. Please send your queries to “Get Action” at The Tico Times by mail, fax or e-mail. We can’t promise miracles, but we’ll do the best we can.

 

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