27 CFR § 5.24 - Certificates of label approval (COLAs) for distilled spirits imported in containers.
(a) Application requirement. Any person removing distilled spirits in containers from customs custody for consumption must first apply for and obtain a certificate of label approval (COLA) covering the distilled spirits from the appropriate TTB officer, or obtain authorization to use the COLA from the person to whom the COLA is issued.
(b) Release of distilled spirits from customs custody. Distilled spirits, imported in containers, are not eligible for release from customs custody for consumption, and no person may remove such distilled spirits from customs custody for consumption, unless the person removing the distilled spirits has obtained a COLA covering the distilled spirits and is able to provide it (either electronically or on paper) upon request. Products imported under another person's COLA are eligible for release only if each bottle or individual container to be imported bears the name (or trade name) and address of the person to whom the COLA was issued by TTB, and only if the importer using the COLA to obtain release of a shipment can substantiate that the person to whom the COLA was issued has authorized its use by the importer.
(c) Filing requirements. If filing electronically, the importer must file with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), at the time of filing the customs entry, the TTB-assigned identification number of the valid COLA that corresponds to the label on the product or lot of distilled spirits to be imported. If the importer is not filing electronically, the importer must provide a copy of the COLA to CBP at the time of entry. In addition, the importer must provide a copy of the applicable COLA, and proof of the COLA holder's authorization if applicable, upon request by the appropriate TTB officer or a customs officer.
(d) Evidence of COLA. Upon request by the appropriate TTB officer, an importer must provide evidence that a container of distilled spirits is covered by a COLA. This requirement may be satisfied by providing original COLAs, photocopies or electronic copies of COLAs, or records showing the TTB identification number assigned to the approved certificate.
(e) Scope of this section. The COLA requirement imposed by this section applies only to distilled spirits that are removed for sale or any other commercial purpose. Distilled spirits that are imported in containers are not eligible for a certificate of exemption from label approval. See 27 CFR 27.49, 27.74, and 27.75 for labeling exemptions applicable to certain imported samples of distilled spirits.
(f) Relabeling in customs custody. Containers of distilled spirits in customs custody that are required to be covered by a COLA but are not labeled in conformity with a COLA must be relabeled, under the supervision and direction of customs officers, prior to their removal from customs custody for consumption.