Prohibition Agent Eliot Ness knows all there is to know about TTB and the regulated industries. Take a look below to see his answers to popular questions.
"Can I use TTB's Public COLA Registry to obtain a copy of my approved Certificate of Label Approval (COLA)?"
The short answer? Yes.
To elaborate, the general public can look up information about ALL approved COLAs using TTB's Public COLA Registry. This public registry should not be confused with COLAs Online, which is TTB’s system for the submission and review of a COLA. And unlike COLAs Online, no username or password is required to use the Public COLA Registry. The Public COLA Registry allows the public to view information such as:
- Approved, Expired, Surrendered, and Revoked COLA details;
- Limited Basic Permit information;
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Images of the approved label applications (printable versions) for most COLAs issued since 1999—even ones submitted on paper!
Using the Registry
Perhaps you are an industry member who wants to see all the labels approved under your Federal Basic Permit. Just go to the registry's Advanced Search page and enter your Basic Permit number* in the box titled "Plant Registry/Basic Permit/Brewer's No." If you have a large number of approvals you can modify the list by using any of the other search options, such as the "Date Completed" option. You can modify your search by as many or as few options as necessary.
When searching, remember you can use the wildcard character— a character used to replace any unknown word or letter in a search phrase. The Public COLA Registry wildcard character is the "%" symbol. The registry will then run the search for you and locate all word possibilities. For example, you may be looking for a brand name that includes the word "Valerie." Type the term "%Valerie%" (without quotation marks) and the registry will look for references like "Valerie's Vineyard" and "Wines by Valerie," as well as the solo term "Valerie." Keep in mind that any brand name-type searches may not be completely comprehensive due to errors in data entry or in the way the approval form was filled out.
When you have finished entering your search terms do not hit any of the "Lookup" buttons unless you are specifically searching for an answer from one of those fields. Instead, you may either hit your keyboard's "Enter" key or scroll down to the bottom-right side of the page and click "Search."
* Domestic wineries should always use their Basic Permit Registry number (it begins with "BW" or "BWN") when searching the Public COLA Registry.
How to View and Print Label Approvals
To view a copy of the label approval itself, click on the application's TTB ID number. This will bring you to the "COLA Detail" page. Locate the "Printable Version" link at the top right-hand side of the details box and click it for a print-ready copy of the approval.
Additional Public COLA Registry Information
- If you are registered with COLAs Online, you should log out of that system before you try to use the Public COLA Registry.
- The Public COLA Registry only contains approved labels. Rejected or returned applications are not included in this database.
- If the approval is not available online, you may request a copy under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Keep in mind that it takes a few days after a label is approved before it shows up in the system. Please forward your request either by email to Submit an Online Inquiry, by fax to 202-453-2984, or by mail to the following address:
Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
ATTN: Alcohol Labeling and Formulation Division
1310 G Street, NW., Box 12
Washington, DC 20005
Please include the TTB ID number in your request.
Visit the Eliot Knows Archives to see other popular questions and answers.