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Trade measurement laws regulate the retail and wholesale sale of alcohol.

If you sell beer, stout, ale, brandy, gin, rum, vodka, and whisky (or whiskey), you must sell at a price determined by volume.

If you sell alcohol in bottles, cans or casks, you must meet the pre-packaged goods requirements. 

Beer, stout and ale

If you sell beer on tap, this usually involves serving it in an approved batch-tested glass or jug: 

  • with the volume marked in millilitres (mL) or litres (L)
  • made from glass, acrylic or another approved material
  • with the capacity of a glass defined by either the brim or a capacity (Plimsoll) line
  • with the capacity of a jug defined by a capacity (Plimsoll) line

All batch-tested products have been approved by the National Measurement Institute (NMI) under category 4/1/0D and:

  • checked by a servicing licensee
  • verified against NMI’s test procedures 
  • permanently marked or moulded with the manufacturer’s identification, the capacity and the batch testing mark

Other vessels or containers

If you sell beer in non-verified or non-standard vessels or containers—such as mason jars, growlers or squealers—you must still sell it using accurate volume measurements.

If you’re not using batch approved glassware, you must advertise the actual capacity of the glass or container. You can do this using a:

  • printed or written menu clearly visible at the point of sale
  • receipt or swing tag on the bottle for takeaway containers

Spirits

You must sell brandy (including cognac and armagnac), gin, rum, vodka or whisky (or whiskey) by reference to volume. This usually involves using an NMI-approved spirit measure. 
Spirit measures include:

  • thimble measures
  • egg cups
  • jiggers 
  • more complex dispensers that require verification by servicing licensees

Simple spirit measures must be:

  • in capacities of 15 mL, 30 mL or 60 mL
  • marked with either batch-testing markings or a verification mark
  • made of a rigid or semi-rigid material

Spirit dispensers must:

  • be of a pattern approved under categories 4/5/ or 5/6S/ and bear a verification mark applied by a servicing licensee
  • deliver fixed quantities of 15 mL, 30 mL  or 60 mL

You must sell specified spirits by volume when you serve them with a mixer such as soft drink, milk or water.

Using spirit dispensers

If you sell alcohol using spirit dispensers, you must ensure that:

  • NMI has approved your type of dispenser and any attached modules (i.e. point of sale system) 
  • a servicing licensee has verified your dispenser and any attached modules
  • you and your staff use the instrument in the correct manner 
  • you keep the dispenser clean and in good working order
  • a servicing licensee verifies the dispenser after each repair or adjustment

We recommend that you have all your dispensers checked regularly by a technician licensed by NMI (servicing licensee). For a list of servicing licensees, email tmlicensees@measurement.gov.au.

Exemptions

You can use non-approved bottle-top or wall-mounted pourers for non-specified spirits, provided you do not state the volume served.

Spirits not specified in the regulations, including liqueurs, do not have to be sold by volume.

You do not need to use spirit measures when you mix these spirits with other spirits or alcoholic liquors to produce cocktails.

Wine

If you sell wine (unless pre-packaged), you do not have to sell it by volume. You may sell wine in an unmarked glass or carafe. If you do sell wine by volume, then that volume must be accurate.

Pre-packaged wine must adhere to all standard packaging requirements, except in relation to the position of the measurement marking.

Regulating the sale of alcohol

The National Measurement Act 1960 and the National Trade Measurement Regulations 2009 regulate how you sell alcohol using measurement.

NMI employs trade measurement inspectors throughout Australia. We regularly inspect alcohol being sold to ensure that sellers are following the correct process.

If an inspector finds that you are short-measuring your customers, you could be fined up to $210,000 per offence.

If you have concerns about how someone is selling alcohol, contact the NMI hotline on 1300 686 664 or email infotm@measurement.gov.au.

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Last updated: 18 June 2019

Content ID: 52550