Monday, April 12, 2010

TTB Guidance on Personalized Labels

In recent months there has been some confusion as to what exactly is required by TTB when submitting a label with personalized information, whether it is for a wedding, a birthday, or etc. TTB has now clarified the requirements for personalization with the following release:


TTB understands that there is a growing market for alcohol beverage products that contain personalized information on the label. With the increase in demand in the market place for these types of products, TTB wants to provide the industry with clear guidance on our long-standing policies as they relate to personalized labeling.

Who must obtain label approval?

Importers and bottlers of alcohol beverage products are required to obtain a Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) for all products entering into commerce. See 27 U.S.C. 205(e). In addition, wholesalers must obtain a COLA for relabeling (labeling of bottled or packed tax-paid alcohol beverages) purposes in accordance with ATF Revenue Ruling 62-224. The COLA covers only labels displayed on the COLA form and allowable revisions as outlined in Section V of TTB F5100.31. However, for personalized labels it has been TTB’s long-standing policy to permit salutations, names, and congratulatory dates to change on the label, provided the specific information that may vary is described in detail in item number 19, the special wording section, on the COLA form.

How do I obtain a COLA and what does it cover?

A label containing personalized information must be attached to TTB F5100.31. Alterations to the salutation must be listed in item 19 of the application form or in the special wording section of the electronic application.

Example: A label application for a wedding is submitted on TTB F5100.31. The label states “Congratulations John and Jane”. Item number 19 of the application form states: salutations may change to include “Happy Anniversary,” “Happy Birthday,” “Best Wishes,” or other similar phrases. The names and dates listed will either be deleted or may change.

All intended salutations must be listed on the application form, or a new COLA form is required.

What is not covered?

Personalized label approvals cover the label attached and alternate salutations listed in item 19, the special wording section, only. Graphics are not permitted to change or be added without obtaining a new label approval. In addition, no personalized information may be in conflict with the Code of Federal Regulations parts 4, 5, 7, 9, 12, or 16. For example, labels may not include a name, graphic, pictorial, or emblem with represents a famous living person of public prominence, or existing private or public organization, if it is likely to mislead the consumer that the product has been endorsed, made, or used by, or produced for, or under the supervision of, or in accordance with the specifications of such individual or organization. See 27 CFR 4.39(a)(6), 5.42(a)(6), and 7.29(a)(6). Labels also may not contain American flags or emblems, misleading health claims, or other prohibited items as specified in 27 CFR 4.39, 5.42, and 7.29. This is not an all-inclusive list.

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