This is to provide the basics about label expedites at TTB. Expedites are expensive and take a lot of extra work so above all try to start early, to avoid the need for this, as much as practical.
- In urgent situations, we can help you get your labels reviewed within a few days.
- You should not cry wolf. It is better and less costly to start early, with good labels. In our view it’s reasonable to ask TTB to expedite up to about 10 percent of your labels per year.
- These days, it takes 2-5 weeks to get most labels reviewed. Spirits labels take the most time and malt beverage labels take the least time. The trends are here .
- This assumes that the label is in good shape. It can take even longer if the label is wrong or TTB thinks it is wrong.
- In the late 1980s and early 1990s it took only a few hours to get most labels approved, but the waiting time has steadily increased over the years.
- Good “ documentation ,” tending to show that the situation really is urgent. TTB requires evidence to show a firm deadline within 2-3 weeks, such as: i) bottling/shipping/advertising schedules; ii.) purchase orders or bills of lading.
- The documentation and rationale need to make it clear that you could not have avoided this predicament simply by starting a few weeks earlier. The documentation needs to be good enough to explain why TTB should put your label in front of a few thousand other labels already in line, from other applicants like Bacardi, Diageo, Anheuser-Busch, Gallo.
What doesn’t work?
- Pleading or bossy phone calls (in the absence of “documentation”).
- Emotion-laden letters (in the absence of “documentation”). Re-stating the obvious – that you need it.
- It’s not worth the bother unless the documentation is excellent. It is not a rubber-stamp procedure. TTB allowed expedites for about 10 years, until February 2011, with a fairly modest standard. Then TTB banned expedites altogether for several months. Since TTB re-allowed expedites, in May of 2011, the standard has been high.
What we need
- Good “documentation,” as described above at point 3.
- A letter from the permittee describing the urgency (must be on bottler or importer letterhead, signed, typed). We have a template letter available upon request.
- Legible labels.
How much it costs
- We normally bill on a time basis, for expedites, and it normally takes at least an hour of extra work. This is per batch (up to five label sets per batch), not per label. This is in addition to the normal per-label fee (rates here ).
- Please note that this Expedite Fee is different from a Rush Fee, as explained here .
- Please note that we try to move promptly on all labels, even “normal” ones. We almost always get them filed within a day of receipt. But “expedites” are different and may require much more work, and many more phone calls.
- If you are in a bind, and you can’t supply “documentation,” it may be possible for us to review the label and issue an opinion letter adequate to print the labels or ship the product (imports only). But this is only for emergencies because it can be expensive, and because the rules can be somewhat subjective and unpredictable.
- TTB has a firm policy for label expedites (including a meeting of the expedite committee on Thursday mornings, with a firm deadline a few hours prior) — but no firm policy for formula expedites.
If you have questions, please contact Robert, John or Jaycee as here .