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TTB/COLA Lead times!

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yeah, formulas were at 100+ days a week or two ago, but now I see they've dropped to 75, and I've got an application submitted in mid April. Hoping, wishing that I'll be able to get that formula approved in time for a 4th quarter release!

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This may be an obvious question but, subject to state laws of course, do you need a COLA Approved Label for states within your own state? I'm going to research this myself but figured I'd ask.

My assumption was that you need a COLA for everything but I had someone tell me COLAs are only necessary for interstate sales. While we would eventually plan to get COLA approval for the products, it would be nice to be able to label some bottles and do limited sales from the distillery while waiting for COLA approval.

I'm asking from strictly a regulatory sense - I understand that notwithstanding the legality there are plenty of business reasons to just get the COLA first (bulk label purchases, etc).

If we have a valid DSP and product to sell, can we sell it in state before the feds approve the label?


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You must submit the COLA application. Look at the form. It is an application that includes a certificate of exemption from label approval. That is only good if you sell only intrastate. But the point is that you have to get the exemption approved before you can label the product. Here is the regulation:

§5.55 Certificates of label approval.

(a) Requirement. Distilled spirits shall not be bottled or removed from a plant, except as provided in paragraph (B) of this section, unless the proprietor possesses a certificate of label approval, TTB Form 5100.31, covering the labels on the bottle, issued by the appropriate TTB officer pursuant to application on such form. Application for certificates of label approval covering labels for imported gin bearing the word “distilled” as a part of the designation shall be accompanied by a statement prepared by the manufacturer setting forth a step-by-step description of the manufacturing process.

(B)Exemption. Any bottler of distilled spirits shall be exempt from the requirements in paragraph (a) of this section and §5.56 if the bottler possesses a certificate of exemption from label approval, TTB Form 5100.31, issued by the appropriate TTB officer pursuant to application on that Form showing that the distilled spirits to be bottled are not to be sold, offered for sale, or shipped or delivered for shipment, or otherwise introduced into interstate or foreign commerce.

Here is the Part 19 provision:

§19.516 Certificate of label approval or exemption.

A proprietor must obtain a certificate of label approval or an exemption from label approval under part 5 of this chapter on form TTB F 5100.31 for any label that the proprietor will use on bottles of spirits for domestic use. Upon request by the appropriate TTB officer, the proprietor must provide evidence of label approval, or of exemption from label approval, for a label used on a bottle of spirits for domestic use. For procedures regarding the issuance, denial and revocation of certificates of label approval and certificates of exemption from label approval, as well as appeal procedures, see part 13 of this chapter.

I do not know the answer to the obvious questions, but I suspect that an application for exemption goes into the same pile as an application for approval. Ask TTB about that. And remember, if you get a certificate of exemption, you must include a statement on the label that the product is "For Sale in - insert name of the state in which bottled - only."

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