TTB Efforts to Streamline COLA Application Process: New “Conditionally Approved” COLA Status

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (“TTB”) recently announced upcoming changes to the Certificate of Label Approval (“COLA”) application review process.  Specifically, TTB will be adding a new “Conditionally Approved” status allowing applicants to fix minor errors in their COLA applications without having to go to the back of the line.

Currently, when a TTB specialist believes a COLA application requires changes (even a minor change such as the application containing a spelling of the brand name that is slightly different from the actual label), the application goes back into the queue and needs to wait for further review and approval.

In an effort to streamline the label approval process, TTB specialists will soon be able to propose changes to the brand name, fanciful name, appellation, or grape varietal fields of COLA applications, and designate the application as “Conditionally Approved.”  Applicants will be notified by email of the change in status and have 7 days to review the proposed changes.  If the applicant agrees with the proposed changes, it can accept those changes through COLAs Online, at which point the application’s status will automatically change to “Approved.”  Alternatively, if the applicant disagrees with the proposed changes, it can decline those changes, at which point the application’s status will automatically change to “Needs Correction.”  If the applicant declines the corrections because it believes the original entries were correct or otherwise wishes to provide the specialist with additional information, the applicant may provide an explanation in the “Notes to Specialist” field on COLAs Online.  Failure by the applicant to accept or decline the proposed changes will result in the application being designated as “Needs Correction,” and the any revised applications will go to the back of the queue.

This new status is only intended for situations where the application would have been approved, but for the fact that the information in one or more of the above referenced fields is inconsistent with the submitted label.  Where there is some other additional deficiency in the application, such as a lack of a Health Warning Statement, the specialist will return the application for correction without making any proposed changes, and the application goes back into the queue.

TTB’ has not stated when this change to COLAs Online will be implemented, but is holding a TTB webinar on Tuesday, June 25 from 2-3pm Eastern to discuss the new Conditionally Approved status and other recent COLAs Online enhancements.

By Brian Noack (Law Clerk) and John Trinidad (Attorney)

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