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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Underage Liquor Sales Alert: Online and Telecommunications Supply Bans Effective January 2nd

In a significant move to address the rising concern of underage drinking, Singapore is set to implement new regulations regarding the online supply of liquor. Starting January 2, 2024, individuals or businesses, including popular e-commerce platforms such as Shopee and GrabFood, will be required to obtain a license to supply liquor through online or telecommunications services.


Background of the Amendment

To comprehend the gravity of this amendment, it’s essential to delve into the existing regulatory framework. The Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) (Liquor Licensing) Regulations 2015 have been subject to review by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Singapore Police Force, leading to the upcoming changes.

Key Changes in Regulations

The crux of the amendment lies in the mandatory licensing for those supplying liquor through online platforms or telecommunications services. Telecommunications services, as defined in the context of this regulation, encompass phone calls, SMS, and Internet-based messaging services like WhatsApp and Telegram.

Responsibilities of Suppliers and E-commerce Platforms

In a bid to ensure compliance and deter underage individuals from purchasing alcohol, suppliers and e-commerce platforms must take specific measures. Age verification of buyers is now a prerequisite, along with issuing warnings to those under 18 about the illegality of purchasing liquor and informing them of the associated penalties.

Penalties for Offenders

The penalties for non-compliance are stringent, with fines reaching up to $10,000. This aligns with the overarching goal of creating parity between online and physical liquor vendors, contributing to the broader effort to curb underage drinking.


Rationale Behind the Amendment

The primary motivation behind these changes is the need to address the growing concern of underage drinking. By enforcing regulations similar to those applicable to brick-and-mortar stores, authorities aim to create a more consistent and stringent framework.

Impact on E-commerce Platforms

E-commerce platforms, the primary conduits for online liquor sales, will witness a significant shift in their operations. Ensuring compliance with age verification processes and incorporating necessary warnings becomes paramount for their continued operation.

Enforcement of Regulations

The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Singapore Police Force will play a pivotal role in enforcing these regulations. Stringent monitoring mechanisms will be put in place, and non-compliance may lead to severe consequences for businesses.

Transition Period for Licensees

Acknowledging the magnitude of these changes, a transition period is granted until January 2, 2024. During this time, businesses must make the necessary adjustments and obtain the required licenses to continue their operations legally.

Exemption for Third-Party E-commerce Platforms

While licensees can still supply liquor through third-party e-commerce platforms, certain conditions apply. Licensees must ensure that the platform operator takes all reasonable steps to verify the age of the buyer, accompanied by appropriate warnings and information about penalties.


Storage Regulations for Licensees

From January 2, 2024, licensees are no longer obligated to keep liquor at their licensed premises. However, selling liquor from storage premises is expressly prohibited, indicating a shift in the traditional model.

Public Awareness Campaigns

The success of these regulatory changes hinges on effective communication with the public. Public awareness campaigns will be crucial in ensuring that consumers and businesses are well-informed about the new regulations and their implications.

Industry Response

As businesses grapple with these changes, the response from the industry becomes pivotal. Insights into how businesses, particularly e-commerce platforms, are adapting to comply with the amended regulations provide valuable perspectives.

Challenges and Concerns

While the intent behind these regulations is commendable, challenges and concerns may arise. Businesses may face difficulties in adapting, and addressing public concerns about the potential impacts of these changes is essential.


In conclusion, the upcoming prohibition on supplying liquor to those under 18 through online or telecommunications services marks a significant step in the ongoing battle against underage drinking. The alignment of regulations for online and physical vendors reflects a commitment to creating a robust and consistent framework.


  1. What is the implementation date for the new regulations?
    • The new regulations will be effective from January 2, 2024.
  2. What penalties do offenders face under the amended regulations?
    • Offenders may be fined up to $10,000.
  3. Are e-commerce platforms exempt from the new regulations?
    • E-commerce platforms must comply with age verification and warning requirements but can still facilitate sales under certain conditions.
  4. What is the purpose of the public awareness campaigns mentioned in the article?
    • Public awareness campaigns aim to inform consumers and businesses about the new regulations and their implications.
  5. Can licensees still sell liquor from storage premises after January 2, 2024?
    • No, selling liquor from storage premises is prohibited after the implementation date.
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