Import and Sell Tequila: How to get CRT certified

Supply Disruptions and Increased Costs in the Grains Market

The Tequila Trend: an increase in demand

The world’s thirst for tequila is increasing. Besides cocktail culture’s demand for the spirit, many consumers are discovering a more sophisticated and exotic drinking experience thanks to tequila and its variations. 

The US is Mexico’s largest export destination for tequila. In May 2017, the US Distilled Spirits Council reported that since 2002, tequila volumes have grown 121%, an average of 5.8% per year. High-end premium Tequila is increased by 292% during the same period.
It is estimated that the tequila market in Europe (EU) will grow at a compound annual growth rate of approximately 1.8% and 1.3% in terms of revenue and quantity, respectively (between 2014 – 2019). Following the lead of the US in terms of importing tequila are Spain, Germany, and France. These three EU countries all imported more than 3 million liters of the Mexican spirit in 2017. However, despite its growing popularity, very few businesses are aware of the legal procedures that accompany tequila. 
Tequila is a legally defined and protected spirit. Time and commitment are required before a business is ready and licensed to import tequila and sell the Mexican spirit. Tequila is protected by legislation not only for quality purposes, but also to maintain the integrity of a Mexican cultural icon; tequila is even more heavily regulated than Scotch whisky and French cognac. So how do you get top tequila to be part of your business?

CRT Tequila: The Certification Required to Import Tequila

The Tequila Regulatory Council (Spanish: Consejo Regulador del Tequila) also known as the CRT, is a non-profit organization that maintains the standards of tequila. This council works with the entire network involved in tequila production- from agave farmers to bottlers to marketers, as well as Mexican government representatives. Its branches include agricultural, verification, certification, quality control, and administrative. The CRT has certified producers under the ISO 9002 standards since 1999.

How do I Import Premium Tequila?

To be able to import and bottle tequila, a business must be CRT certified. This means all parts of a business, including product, bottle, label and your business must be certified for bottling. While all 100% agave tequilas must be bottled in Mexico, bulk mixtos (gold tequila, silver tequila, and tequila reposado) may be bottled outside the country. If bottling is done externally, then the bottler also needs to be certified. 
A tequila business does not come with a side of salt and lime, but paperwork instead. To incorporate tequila into your business, many documents must be duly signed and stamped by your business and company lawyer. As the CRT tequila poses a few hurdles, and logistics can become a costly affair, it is recommended to ship tequila in greater quantities; a larger volume is more cost-effective. Ordering and importing IBC’s that contain 1000 liters of tequila from Mexico is a long-term investment. 
When aiming to get CRT certified, a business should be aware that the CRT requires various forms of documentation to begin the certification process. For instance, bottlers residing abroad must provide a copy of the Certificate Bottlers Approval (CAE), the original version of the Joint Responsibility Agreement (In bulk agreement form), and several other documents.
Obtaining a license from Consejo Regulador del Tequila involves 5 main steps:

  1. Sasma provides the required paperwork and states the documents you must submit
  2. Your business returns the paperwork to Sasma for revision
  3. Your company lawyer signs the documents
  4. The required documents are posted by mail and sent to Mexico
  5. The CRT must approve all the documents for all aspects of tequila handling (from bottle and product to label and bottling) for your business to be legally certified. This takes a minimum of three months.

Evidently, premium tequila is a product that demands dedication and attention to detail to be able to reap the rewards. Nonetheless, it must be acknowledged that part of the spirit’s popularity is based on its controlled quality and the high standards tequila must meet to deserve its name. 
Tequila requires a professional approach and awareness of the time and effort input required. When working with Sasma, we can provide information regarding the process, assist in completing the required paperwork and provide general guidance on the Mexican matter. Is your business ready to commit and benefit from the tequila trend? Reach out to us for more information on CRT tequila.

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Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of speaking with the Sasma Logistics team. Meet Pim Schouten our Logisitcs Manager, and Amir Tawfik, Nicolai Koelhof, Alexandru Onica, Moon Nguyet Nguyen, and Charitha Heeren Sasma’s Logistics Operators.

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