Application for approval of special denaturants

If you wish to use denaturants other than those generally authorised for the denaturing of alcohol products, you must obtain approval.

Alcohol products can be used tax-free in a variety of legally regulated cases if they have been denatured beforehand.

Denaturing involves the addition of certain denaturants to alcohol products to render it unfit for drinking and consumption.

A distinction is made between "complete denaturing" and "denaturing". Alcohol tax law regulates the cases in which "complete denaturing" or "denaturing" occurs. In the case of (incomplete) denaturing, for example, certain approved denaturants must be used, depending on the intended use of the alcohol used.

If the approved denaturants are unsuitable in individual cases, the competent main customs office can approve other denaturants on application. To do this, you must submit an informal application for the use of a special denaturant to the relevant main customs office. You must justify why the generally approved means are unsuitable for your purposes.

Denaturants that are generally approved in other EU member states are usually approved as special denaturants by the main customs offices. The denaturants generally approved in the other member states, are published on The main customs office can request free samples from you for testing purposes.

In the list below you will find the denaturants generally authorised for the different uses. All denaturants that are not on the list are special denaturants for which you need an approval from your main customs office.

List of denaturants generally approved (the quantities in each case refer to 100 litres of pure alcohol):

1. for the manufacture of goods which are neither medicines nor foodstuffs, or for heating or cleaning purposes, or for any other purpose other than the manufacture of goods:

  • 1.0 liter of methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), consisting of 95 to 96 percent MEK by mass, 2.5 to 3 percent methyl isopropyl ketone by mass, and 1.5 to 2 percent ethyl isoamyl ketone (5-methyl-3-heptanone) by mass.
  • 6.0 kilograms of shellac
  • 2.0 litres toluene
  • 2,0 litres of cyclohexane

2. for the manufacture of cosmetic or odour-improving preparations

  • 0.5 kilograms of diethyl phthalate
  • 0,5 kilograms of thymol
  • 5,0 kilograms of isopropanol and 78,0 grams of tertiary butanol
  • 0,8 grams of denatonium benzoate and 78,0 grams of tertiary butanol

3. for the preparation of scientific preparations for teaching purposes, for chemical investigations of all kinds, for the preparation of chemicals and reagents for own laboratory use, for the preparation, storage and sterilization of medical sutures and for the preparation of sealing wax:

  • 1.0 litre of petroleum ether

4. for the manufacture of emulsions and similar preparations for photographic purposes, photoprinting and photopausing processes and for the manufacture of dressings, with the exception of collodion:

  • 5,0 litres of ethyl ether

5. for the manufacture of fuels:

  • 2,0 litres of fuel

6. for the manufacture of ethyl tertiary butyl ether (ETBE):

  • 0.085 liters of ETBE

7. for the manufacture or dilution of printing inks:

  • 2 liters of ethyl acetate and 0.1 liter of isopropyl acetate or 0.1 liter of n-propanol.

You do not have to submit any additional documents.

In individual cases, however, your main customs office may request further documents or information or demand free samples for examination purposes.

  • Forms: no
  • Online procedure: no
  • Written form required: yes
  • Personal appearance required: no


  • You need denatured alcohol for the production of goods for the commercial use of which a tax exemption is provided for under alcohol tax law.
  • The generally approved denaturants are not suitable in your case.

Related Links

  • § Section 27 Alcohol Tax Act (AlkStG)
  • § Sections 52 to 54 Alcohol Tax Ordinance (AlkStV)

Related Links

  • Further information on the denaturing of alcohol products on the website of the customs administration

You must apply for permission in writing:

  • An informal written application will suffice.
  • In the application, you describe the special denaturant and the process of use in detail and justify why the approved denaturants contained in the Alcohol Tax Ordinance are unsuitable. If requested, you must provide the main customs office with samples free of charge for examination purposes.
  • Send the application by post to the main customs office from whose district you operate your business or, if you do not operate a business, in whose district you are resident.
  • The main customs office will examine your application.
  • You will receive a notice of approval or rejection.

Responsible for the content
Federal Ministry of Finance, Department III B 4

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