Can You Ship Alcohol?
June 29, 2023
Americans consume more and more alcohol yearly, with each person drinking an average of 2.45 gallons- a 12% increase in alcoholic beverage consumption from two decades ago.
This increase in demand has led to a remarkable 15% growth in alcohol sales in 2021, despite the many industry challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whether you’re an e-commerce retailer, distributor, or someone looking to send a bottle of spirits as a celebratory gift, it’s essential to understand that just because there’s a demand for alcohol doesn’t mean you can freely send them.
In this article, let’s navigate the complexities of shipping alcohol- from state laws and carrier requirements to packing considerations and licensing obligations.
Are you looking to ship alcoholic beverages? Visit FindPostOffice.org! With thousands of facilities nationwide, finding a postal service that allows alcohol delivery can be tedious. Use our post office locator tool to find one near your area.
Which Carriers Will Ship Alcohol?
The most notable carriers include USPS (United States Postal Service), UPS (United Parcel Service), FedEx (Federal Express), and DHL (Dalsey, Hillbom, and Lynn). Several but not all major carriers offer shipping services for alcoholic beverages. Let’s look at each shipping company and its policies regarding the shipment of alcohol.
Can You Ship Alcohol via USPS?
The United States Postal Service (USPS) doesn’t allow the shipment of alcohol in any circumstances. USPS doesn’t allow you to send a box previously used for beer or wine, even if the package doesn’t contain alcohol.
How to Mail Alcohol With USPS
Since USPS prohibits domestic and international alcohol shipments, no specific guidelines exist for mailing alcohol through its services.
What Happens if You Ship Alcohol Through USPS?
USPS will reject your package if you attempt to ship alcohol through its services.
Shipping Beer, Liquor, and Wine With USPS
While USPS won’t let you send alcoholic beverages like beer and wine, there are exceptions. For instance, you can ship products with minimal alcoholic content, such as cooking wine, common cold remedies, and mouthwash.
Can You Ship Alcohol via UPS?
Unlike USPS, the United Parcel Service (UPS) does offer domestic and international shipping solutions for alcohol. That said, you must meet specific requirements before doing so.
How to Mail Alcohol With UPS
To ship alcohol with UPS, you must enter a specialized carriage contract for each type of alcohol you intend to send. You must also get necessary government licenses, such as a basic federal permit from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).
You must also create a UPS account and sign the UPS ISC Alcohol Shipping Addendum, which outlines your legal obligations as an alcohol shipper to ship alcoholic beverages domestically and internationally.
Shipping Beer, Liquor, and Wine With UPS
Aside from the Federal Basic Permit, you also need state licenses and, if necessary, a license from the destination state to ship wine, spirits, and beer.
Depending on the applicable laws, UPS permits various shipping options, including direct-to-consumer (DtC) shipments, shipments between licensed entities, and shipments from breweries and retailers.
UPS Best Practices for Alcohol Shipping
When shipping alcohol with UPS, adhering to its best practices is crucial. These include using UPS drop-tested packagings, such as EPS foam inner packaging, folded corrugated trays, or molded fiber trays, to secure and protect glass bottles during transit.
You must label the packaging according to UPS’ origin and destination state guidelines. Moreover, the recipient must comply with legal drinking age limits or be over 21. UPS ensures this with its Adult Signature Required service upon delivery.
Can You Ship Alcohol With FedEx?
Similar to UPS, FedEx also allows direct-to-consumer and license-to-licensee alcohol shipping. However, you must follow certain restrictions and requirements.
How to Mail Alcohol With FedEx
To ship alcohol with FedEx, you must be a pre-approved alcoholic beverage seller and have the proper licenses, which means enrolling in the FedEx Alcohol Shipping Program. Unfortunately, FedEx limits shipping licenses to businesses and not individual consumers.
Shipping Beer, Liquor, and Wine With FedEx
Unlike UPS, FedEx doesn’t require separate shipping licenses for certain types of alcohol or have different carrier arrangements for them.
FedEx Alcohol Shipping Best Practices
You must use appropriate packaging when shipping alcohol via FedEx. Proper packaging includes:
- Using sturdy materials
- Sealing and wrapping the parcel
- Having explicit labels that meet FedEx guidelines, such as “Alcoholic Beverages,” visible on the package
How to Become an Authorized Alcohol Shipper With FedEx
To become a FedEx-approved U.S. or international alcohol shipper, you must follow these steps:
- Have a valid FedEx account number. Create an account if you don’t have one.
- Contact your FedEx account executive or schedule a chat with an alcohol shipping expert if you don’t have an account executive.
- Sign the FedEx Alcohol Shipping Agreement. Your account executive can provide details and assistance.
- Review and comply with the following shipping requirements:
- Use an electronic shipping solution approved by FedEx.
- Ensure your packaging meets FedEx alcohol packaging requirements.
- Select the Adult Signature service option for every U.S. alcohol shipment.
- Label your alcohol shipments with the appropriate FedEx alcohol shipping label.
How to Ship Alcohol With DHL
To ship alcohol with DHL, you must meet specific requirements. First, you must comply with the Food and Drug Association (FDA) and TTB guidelines and be a licensed producer, retailer, or wholesaler from a state that allows alcohol shipment.
States that don’t allow you to send alcoholic beverages via DHL include:
|New Hampshire||New Jersey|
|North Dakota||Rhode Island|
You can also ship alcohol internationally with DHL. That said, Postal services have volume and alcohol percentage restrictions, such as five-liter and 70% concentration limits for a bottle of wine, and recommend commercial carriers with international alcohol delivery expertise like DHL Express.
Like domestic shipping, proper packaging, including bubble wrap, is crucial for international alcohol shipments. You must also prepare the customs paperwork the destination country requires, including customs declarations, importation licenses, and special permits.
Refer to DHL’s official guidelines and regulations for more detailed information on shipping alcohol. You’ll also want to check for additional taxes or duties imposed by the destination country.
Alternatively, you can visit FindPostOffice.org to find the closest post office in your area for more information.
Each State’s Direct-to-Consumer Compliance Rules on Shipping Alcohol: Is It Legal to Mail Alcohol in the U.S.?
Shipping alcohol across state lines involves navigating a complex web of local laws that vary throughout the country.
Whether you’re a consumer or a business looking to send alcohol, it’s crucial to understand the compliance rules for each state, even if the 21st Amendment removed the alcohol prohibition.
Note that alcohol laws can change. If you need up-to-date information, contact your local and state offices. You can also visit FindPostOffice.org to find your nearest post office to ask for information regarding shipping alcohol.
In Alabama, if you want to send alcohol directly to residents, you must obtain a DtC license. This license allows you to ship wine in-state. You can ship up to 12 cases, with each case not exceeding nine liters, of unopened alcohol containers per year to a single Alabama resident.
You must obtain an Alaska winery license if you plan to ship wine in Alaska. This license allows you to operate a winery where wine is produced, bottled, or barreled for sale.
When shipping alcoholic beverages, you can sell up to five gallons. However, there are certain conditions to consider, such as not sending alcohol to a prohibited area or one that limits the importation or possession of it.
You’ll need a direct shipment license to ship alcohol in Arizona. To get an Arizona DtC alcohol shipping license, you must hold a U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)-issued federal basic permit. The maximum amount you can ship annually is 12 nine-liter cases per consumer.
According to Arkansas statutes, vinous liquor refers to fermented fruit juices with an alcohol content between 5% and 21%. If you want to ship vinous liquor in or out of the state, purchase the alcoholic beverage in person from the winery.
Additionally, shipping alcohol to Arkansas consumers must occur during the legal operating hours for alcoholic beverages in the state. You must also hold an Arkansas ABC-issued license.
ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) refers to state boards or agencies that regulate policies involving alcoholic beverages.
California, being a significant market for alcohol, has relatively relaxed shipping laws. Delivering alcohol, including distilled spirits and wine, within the state is legal as long you have a California DtC permit.
To ship directly to personal consumers in Colorado, you must obtain a Colorado DtC permit. This permit lets you sell and deliver alcohol you produce and bottle to in-state consumers. Understand that you cannot ship alcohol to minors, regardless if you have federal or state licenses.
You must have a Connecticut manufacturer permit to ship wine, cider, and mead to consumers outside Connecticut. Fortunately, this permit also lets you directly send alcohol to consumers within the state.
While shipping alcohol is legal in Delaware, you cannot deliver directly to consumers. Instead, your shipments will go to a Delaware wholesaler, who will send them to a licensed retailer. The retailers are responsible for shipping alcoholic beverages to consumers.
In Florida, if you’re an alcohol-related business, such as a retailer, you must obtain a manufacturer, wholesaler, or exporter’s license issued by Florida’s ABC. It’s illegal to ship alcohol to someone in Florida who doesn’t have alcohol licenses and permits, except for religious organizations.
To ship alcohol in Georgia, you need a special order shipping license, which allows you to deliver directly to consumers for personal or household use. However, you can only ship 12 cases annually to any one Georgia resident.
Unlike other states, a Hawaii DtC permit is only valid for a single shipment. In other words, you must apply for a shipping license whenever you send alcohol to the state.
Suppose you have a manufacturing license from another state. In that case, you can use it to get a direct shipper permit, which lets you directly ship alcohol to consumers in Hawaii.
If you have a winery license in Idaho or hold a manufacturing license from another state, you can obtain a DtC alcohol permit. This permit lets you send alcoholic beverages of up to 24 nine-liter cases to individual consumers annually.
If you want to ship alcohol like wine in Illinois, you’ll need an Illinois shipping license. With this license, you can ship alcoholic beverages to state and out-of-state consumers. However, alcohol shipments can only be for personal use, not resale.
You must have a valid Indiana DtC seller’s permit to ship wine to consumers in Indiana. Similar to Illinois’ alcohol statute, consumers must have an Indiana address and use the alcohol shipment for personal consumption and not for resale or commercial use.
Similar to Idaho, Iowa has relatively relaxed laws regarding alcohol shipments. As long as you have an alcohol shipping or manufacturer permit, regardless of the issuing state, you can ship to residents of Iowa. Though, you’ll also need a basic permit from the TTB.
Like Georgia, Kansas requires you to apply for a special order shipping license to ship alcoholic beverages. Fortunately, alcohol shipments with this license are valid for state and out-of-state deliveries. However, there’s a 12-case limit when sending alcohol to a single consumer or address.
In Kentucky, you can ship up to 10 liters of distilled spirits per consumer monthly, 10 cases of wine, and 10 cases of malt beverages. If you’re a manufacturer, you can only ship alcoholic beverages that your business sells or produces and bottles for you.
Unlike the states mentioned, Kentucky also lets you ship alcohol through a third party, regardless of the license. However, as the shipper, you’re responsible for any violations that may occur during the shipping process.
Louisiana requires a shipping permit before sending alcoholic beverages to consumers. However, you can sell and deliver sparkling or still wine within and out of state, even without a permit. Still, depending on the destination state, you may be required to secure the necessary licenses and permits.
You can ship wine and other alcoholic beverages to consumers in Maine as long as each container is at least 750 milliliters. That said, you cannot send alcohol to specific areas within the state, and you must pay all excise taxes as if the alcohol sales occurred within the state.
If you hold a Maryland manufacturer’s license, you can directly ship alcohol to consumers upon request. If you don’t, you must obtain a DtC shipping permit, which lets you send 18 nine-liter cases per consumer annually.
Like Illinois, Massachusetts offers a favorable environment for alcohol deliveries if you hold valid permits. Unlike other states, alcohol shipping permits in Massachusetts are available to individuals.
To sell, deliver, or import alcoholic beverages in Michigan, you must have a DtC shipper license. You may ship up to 1,500 nine-liter cases to any individual consumer in a calendar year.
Suppose you’re a winery licensed in a state other than Minnesota or a business with a state permit. In that case, you can ship a maximum of two cases, each with nine liters, to in-state consumers.
Additionally, violating Minnesota’s alcohol shipping compliance rules typically only results in a cease and desist order. While misdemeanor charges may apply within two years of your initial violation, no criminal penalties will be imposed.
Mississippi imposes more restrictive regulations compared to several other states. While you can purchase wine from wineries and have it shipped within the state, shipments must go through a package retailer, such as a state liquor store, rather than directly to consumers’ homes.
You can ship up to two cases of alcohol per month to a resident of Missouri as long you hold a Missouri ABC-issued DtC shipping license. Carriers must hold licenses and verify the recipient’s age if you’re shipping alcohol through them.
If you’re an out-of-state brewery, you must apply for a connoisseur’s license to ship beer to consumers in Montana. On the other hand, you need a direct shipment endorsement if you want to ship wine.
The beer shipment limit to Montana residents is 288 bottles or 12 cases annually. The limit for shipping wine is 18 nine-liter cases.
Nebraska maintains a generally permissive stance on alcohol shipping, although it restricts sales of nine liters per person monthly. Note that you can only ship alcoholic beverage brands that you include in your Nebraska direct sales shipping license.
While you’ll still need a valid license to ship alcohol to Nevada, exceptions exist. These exceptions include whether the alcoholic beverages are for personal use, whether you’re exporting less than one gallon, and whether the wine is from an instructional wine-making facility.
Whether you’re shipping beer, wine, or spirits, you must hold a New Hampshire license to send alcohol directly to consumers. However, the state imposes different volume restrictions based on the type of alcohol you’re shipping.
For wine, sales can be 60 containers of more than one liter each or more than 12 nine-liter cases per consumer annually. In the case of beer, sales are limited to 27 gallons, with each container not exceeding one liter.
New Jersey permits alcohol sales, including beverages like cider and mead. However, you need specific licenses, such as a plenary winery, farm winery, out-of-state winery, or meadery license, for each type of alcohol you’re shipping.
If you have a winegrower’s license, you don’t need additional licenses or permits if you ship wine or ciders in New Mexico through an e-commerce site. You’ll still need a DtC shipping permit if you send alcohol to New Mexico residents.
New York permits out-of-state direct shipping of alcohol. Due to the state’s large market size, New York allows a generous limit of 36 cases of alcoholic beverages per state and out-of-state customer every year, surpassing the limits set by most other states.
North Carolina has one of the strictest compliance rules out of any state. While North Carolina permits shipments of alcohol, there are certain restrictions depending on where the package comes from. For instance, you must hold the origin state’s ABC permit to ship alcohol to North Carolina.
Additionally, there are special regulations for shipping to military and Indian lands, requiring consumers to buy wine at a winery and mandating businesses to sell alcohol through a wholesaler if that business sends more than 1,000 cases.
Alcohol shipping requirements in North Dakota are generally permissive. However, there’s a monthly cap on the amount of alcohol you can ship to each consumer. The limits are 27 liters of wine, 288 ounces of beer, and nine liters of other alcoholic beverages.
Unlike other states, Ohio has some unique alcohol shipping limitations. Notably, there’s an annual household limit of 24 cases. Moreover, Ohio has different licensing requirements based on the yearly alcohol manufacturing volume, regardless of the sales location.
For example, if you produce over 250,000 gallons of alcohol annually, you may need to use an intermediary for shipping.
Oklahoma allows you to ship alcohol directly to consumers with an Oklahoma shipper’s permit. With this license, you can send six nine-liter cases of wine annually to any single consumer. These provisions don’t apply to motor carriers, freight forwarders, or air carriers.
You can ship malt beverages, wines, or ciders in Oregon with a DtC permit. When shipping alcoholic beverages to Oregon consumers, malt or cider shipments cannot exceed two cases, while wine can’t go beyond five cases monthly.
If you want to ship alcoholic beverages to consumers in Pennsylvania, you must get a DtC license. The amount of alcohol you can send to each Pennsylvania resident annually is 36 cases, each with up to nine liters.
Unless your shipments are heading to licensed wholesalers, Rhode Island is relatively restrictive for shipping alcohol. Fortunately, the state offers more flexibility for on-site purchases.
In other words, you may need to partner with local retailers to sell and deliver alcoholic beverage products within Rhode Island.
While other states have straightforward rules for shipping alcohol, South Carolina’s is complex. For one, alcohol shipping eligibility depends on the origin of the ingredients you’re using for wine.
If your wine products have at least 60% of their fruit and berries grown in South Carolina, you can sell and directly ship to consumers. However, if you use less than 60% of the fruit component from the state, you must ship wine through a licensed wholesaler.
If you own a winery, you need a wine direct shipping license to ship alcohol to consumers in South Dakota. For limits, you can only send 12 cases to any person annually. Apart from these restrictions, South Dakota has no significant limitations.
Tennessee implements monthly and yearly limits on direct alcohol shipments to consumers, with 9 and 27 liters, respectively.
Nevertheless, Tennessee’s regulations are relatively standard for the industry, such as requiring DtC licenses and limiting deliveries to individuals of legal drinking age.
Texas generally allows alcohol shipments, even to “dry zones” or areas where it’s illegal to sell alcoholic beverages, including Borden, Hemphill, Kent, Roberts, and Throckmorton counties.
However, you cannot obtain an out-of-state DtC permit if you have a winery within Texas. Additionally, like Tennessee, Texas has monthly and yearly shipping limits: 9 and 36 gallons, respectively.
Utah offers minimal options for direct alcohol delivery. However, residents can participate in a state-run subscription program, enabling them to pick up bottles at local stores.
Utah’s strict regulations contribute to its status as the state with the lowest alcohol consumption in the U.S., making it a tough market to penetrate if you’re an out-of-state alcohol-related business.
To ship malt beverages to Vermont residents, you must hold either a state or out-of-state consumer shipping license. Note that you cannot ship malt beverages over 36 gallons and vinous drinks over 29 gallons to any single consumer.
If you want to directly ship beer or wine to consumers in Virginia, you must have a shipper’s license and use an approved common carrier like UPS or FedEx. The monthly maximum amount of alcoholic beverages you can ship is two cases per customer.
Unfortunately, you cannot ship beer to consumers in Washington. However, shipping other alcoholic beverages like wine is allowed if you have the necessary state and federal licenses. Otherwise, alcohol shipping compliance rules in Washington are relatively the same as in most states.
West Virginia allows direct alcohol shipments, which include non-intoxicating brews and craft beers, to personal consumers. However, you must ship liquor to retail outlets in the market zone where the customer resides.
Alcohol shipping compliance rules in Wisconsin are relatively permissive and align with many other states. You must have a shipper’s permit, and you can only send a certain amount: 108 liters annually.
You must hold an out-of-state alcohol shipping license or a winery permit to send alcoholic beverages directly to Wyoming consumers or through retail establishments. Like Wisconsin, Wyoming has an annual shipping limit of 108 liters per household.
In Which States Is It Illegal to Mail Alcohol?
Washington prohibits the shipping of beer. However, in most states, out-of-state manufacturers can directly ship alcoholic beverages to consumers. At the same time, some states have additional requirements or restrictions depending on the type of alcohol:
- Arkansas requires the consumer to be present at the time of purchase, except when shipping from a small farm winery licensee.
- Delaware requires shipments to go through a wholesaler, who then delivers to the consumer through a retail license.
- Mississippi allows consumers to purchase at a winery and have the shipment sent to a state package retailer.
- Rhode Island mandates that the consumer must be present at the time of purchase to ship the alcohol.
- Utah permits consumers to buy wine through a subscription program but requires delivery to a state store.
- West Virginia requires intoxicating beverage shipments like liquors to go to a retail liquor outlet in the consumer’s market zone.
Six of the 50 U.S. states allow you to mail spirits. Eight states enable the shipment of beer and wine. At the same time, Connecticut, Oregon, and New Jersey allow wine, cider, and mead shipments.
Arkansas and New Mexico permit the shipment of wine and cider to consumers. At the same time, the remaining states only allow direct shipments of wine.
For more information on your state and destination state’s alcohol regulations, refer to their official statutes. You can also use FindPostOffice.org’s extensive facility database to find a post office near your area and inquire about specific compliance requirements.
Licensing Requirements for Shipping Alcohol
When shipping alcohol directly to consumers in the U.S., you must adhere to several compliance guidelines. Unfortunately, these requirements can vary across state lines, whether you’re shipping domestically or internationally, and whichever carrier you use.
U.S. Alcohol Shipping Requirements
The following are general considerations you must remember to ship alcohol in the U.S. legally:
- Licensing: You must possess the appropriate licenses and comply with state and federal requirements. Failure to acquire and maintain these licenses may result in penalties, license revocation, and federal repercussions.
- Tax Requirements: Like any business, you must pay taxes on alcohol shipments. Tax laws vary across jurisdictions, so familiarize yourself with the destination state’s regulations.
- Record-Keeping: You must keep records for at least five years or as your business or destination state requires. These documents include purchase records, tax payment records, Certificate of Label Approvals (COLAs), production records, and product registration records.
- Carriers: UPS and FedEx are authorized alcohol shipping carriers. To deliver through these carriers, you must meet specific requirements, such as becoming an approved shipper, entering into a contract agreement, and following packaging and labeling guidelines.
Determine your state’s alcohol laws by visiting its official website. Alternatively, you can visit FindPostOffice.org to find the nearest facility in your area and inquire for more information.
When to Select “Licensee” or “Consumer” for U.S. Shipments
Whether to choose licensee or consumer for your alcohol shipments depends on who you’re sending the package to. Is it a licensed alcohol-related business or a consumer?
- Licensee: If your recipient holds a state and federal alcohol-related license, you must choose the licensee designation. You can also select licensee shipments if you’re shipping alcohol samples to non-licensees, such as research facilities, design or advertising agencies, or media companies.
- Consumer: On the other hand, you must select the consumer designation when shipping beer, wine, and spirits directly to an individual for their consumption. Note that all your DtC shipments must comply with relevant laws and regulations.
International Alcohol Shipping Requirements
Shipping alcohol overseas involves additional complexities in terms of shipping requirements and preparations. Here’s what you need to send alcohol overseas:
- Proper Licenses: Like sending alcohol across state lines, shipping alcoholic beverages to another country requires various permits. Understand that each country may have different license and permit requirements, and settling the necessary legal documents beforehand is crucial to ensure compliance.
- Shipping Carrier: Once you have the proper licensing to ship alcohol to a country, you must choose a suitable shipping company. UPS, FedEx, and DHL each have specific guidelines and requirements for international alcohol delivery.
Import and Export Licensing Requirements
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has varying alcohol import requirements, depending on the purpose.
If you’re importing alcohol for resale:
- You must obtain a basic permit from the TTB before you can engage in the business of importing alcohol.
- You must register as an alcohol dealer and complete TTB Form 5630.5(d) (Alcohol Dealer Registration) before conducting business.
- You also need to get a TTB-issued COLA (Certificate of Label Approval/Exemption) for each type of alcohol you’re importing into the country.
- You need to get a Natural Wine Certificate or a Certificate of Age and Origin to import wine and distilled spirits.
If you’re importing alcohol for personal use:
- You must be at least 21 to bring alcoholic beverages into the U.S.
- You may need a TTB import license to bring in large volumes of alcohol.
The export requirements may vary depending on the type of alcohol you’re exporting, whether you’re a producer, and if the product requires tax payment. However, here are the general guidelines:
- You must have a Certificate of Origin and Certificate of Free Sale.
- You must obtain a simplified VI1 form to export wine to the E.U. (European Union).
- You must also meet applicable state and federal requirements, such as getting the proper permits and licenses.
How to Package Alcohol for Shipping
Proper packaging is critical when shipping alcohol. Packaging is one of the many federal and state requirements you must meet before you can send alcoholic beverages.
That said, different types of alcohol will have specific packaging requirements to prevent breakage and preserve their quality. It would be best to consider how many you’re sending and the carrier’s guidelines when packaging alcohol.
How to Package Beer for Shipping
If you’re shipping beer, whether as an alcohol seller or for personal use, it’s essential to package it carefully to ensure it arrives safely. You must also consider time, air, heat, and light, as these factors can affect alcoholic beverages during transit.
Here are some tips for packaging beer for shipping:
- Bottles: Shipping beer in glass bottles can be risky due to the potential for breakage. UPS and FedEx recommend using polystyrene inner packaging and a corrugated outer container.
- Cans: While cans are more manageable to package than glass bottles, they’re still susceptible to leakage, especially if the journey shakes them. Consider adding foams or bubble wrapping.
- Kegs: Beer kegs are a popular option for shipping beer as they offer better protection. Still, you need to follow guidelines, such as palletizing the kegs and adhering to weight restrictions (160 pounds for a full keg).
How to Package Wine for Shipping
When shipping wine, preserving the alcohol’s freshness and integrity is crucial. Here are some guidelines to properly package wine for shipping:
- Limit the space: Use bubble wrap and cardboard dividers to minimize movement within your package. UPS and FedEx also recommend using molded pulps to ensure wine bottles fit snugly inside the container.
- Consider custom packing options: Explore custom-made wine boxes specifically designed for durability and efficient use of space within the packaging.
- Ensure appropriate labeling: Labeling the wine shipment to indicate its alcoholic and fragile nature is critical in ensuring your package arrives in one piece. Your labels must also suggest that your carrier handles your parcel with care.
- Understand the wine: Different wines may have specific storage needs. For instance, some bottles must be shipped upright, while others must be placed on their sides.
How to Package Spirits for Shipping
Similar to other alcoholic beverages like beer and wine, shipping spirits require careful packaging to prevent breakage and maintain the distilleries’ carefully developed taste of the liquor.
Follow these guidelines when packaging spirits for shipping:
- Avoid glass-to-glass contact: Bottles can potentially break during transit, especially if they collide with each other. Use cardboard dividers and proper padding to keep the bottles secure and stable within the packaging.
- Consider insurance: Wine and spirits are often more valuable than alcoholic beverages like beer. Hence, it makes sense for you to protect these shipments. Shipping carriers like UPS and FedEx offer insurance and liability coverage for alcohol shipments. These add-ons may be worth considering.
Can You Ship Alcohol as a Gift?
You can send alcohol as a gift. However, there are specific regulations and requirements you must follow and meet, much like you would if you’re a business shipping alcohol for sale or consumer consumption.
These requirements include the recipient meeting the legal drinking age, the package having proper labeling, and, depending on your location, getting a special permit to ship alcohol.
How Do I Ship Alcohol as a Gift to Friends or Family?
Sending alcoholic beverages to friends and family is the same as shipping directly to consumers or businesses. Unfortunately, the process must go through a retailer or winery.
It’s generally illegal to ship beer, wine, and spirits as an individual in the U.S. While getting special permits depends on your state’s alcohol laws, companies with alcohol shipping licenses are the only ones who can legally transport alcohol.
You must work directly with a licensed retailer, which includes e-commerce retailers or wineries, to handle alcohol shipments you can gift to friends and family.
That said, restrictions on shipping alcohol vary by jurisdiction. The best way to determine whether you can send alcohol to friends and family is to check your state’s alcohol laws. You can also visit your local post office to inquire. Find the nearest one in your area using FindPostOffice.org’s locator tool.
Returning Alcohol Shipments (Licensee-to-Consumer)
If you’re a licensee returning alcohol shipments to consumers, you must adhere to specific guidelines and restrictions, as shipping alcoholic beverages can vary widely across state lines.
For U.S. returns, here are a few things to remember:
- Returns are limited to approved licensees: You can only return alcohol shipments to customers with the necessary licenses and permits.
- The original shipper must initiate returns: As the initial sender, you’re responsible for the return of alcohol shipments. The consumer cannot start the return process themselves.
- Items must be in their original packaging: The items you’re returning must be in the original packaging. In other words, you must return the goods in compliance with proper packaging and labeling.
For international returns, the process remains mostly the same, with a few additions, which include:
- Obtaining the necessary permits: You need permits and licenses when importing and exporting alcohol. However, the recipient must also hold the proper licenses to receive the returned alcohol shipment.
- Setting up a brokerage: Returning alcohol shipments overseas can be complicated, as each country and its carriers have different customs clearance guidelines. UPS, FedEx, and DHL have brokerage services for international shipping.
- Paying all duties and taxes: As the original shipper, you’re responsible for all duties and taxes associated with the original shipment and the return, where applicable.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Am I eligible to ship alcohol?
If you’re a business with the proper permits and licenses, you’re eligible to send alcohol as long as you meet the destination’s regulations on alcohol shipments. However, if you’re an individual, you’ll need to work directly with a retailer or winery to ship alcohol on your behalf.
- What is an alcohol shipping agreement?
In a nutshell, an alcohol shipping agreement is a contract between a shipping company, such as UPS and FedEx, and an alcohol-related business, such as a licensed sell or retailer, that allows that business to ship alcoholic beverages legally.
- Can I use a regular shipping label for shipping alcohol?
You cannot use regular shipping labels for alcohol shipments. Carriers require you to use special labels that clearly indicate that the package you’re sending contains alcohol.
When shipping alcohol, you must follow appropriate packaging, documentation, and labeling guidelines set by the carrier, the state you’re shipping from, and the destination state.
For more information, visit FindPostOffice.org and find the closest post office in your area.
- Can you ship alcohol via UPS as a gift?
Technically, you can ship alcohol as a gift through UPS. However, this means you must have a UPS-signed alcohol shipping agreement, which is reserved for licensed retailers, wineries, and distilleries. In other words, you cannot ship alcohol as an individual via UPS.
- How do you ship whiskey?
The same rules as sending other alcoholic beverages like wine or spirits apply when shipping whiskey. You must have federal and state licenses and a contract with a shipping carrier.
You must also follow packaging and labeling guidelines, such as using carrier-approved containers, to ensure your whiskey shipment arrives at its intended destination safely.
- What happens if you get caught shipping alcohol?
If you’re caught shipping alcohol illegally, you may face federal and state consequences, including fines, prison time, or both. If you’re an entrepreneur caught illegally shipping alcohol, it can result in the removal of your license and getting criminal charges.
- Can you ship unopened alcohol?
Generally, you should ship alcohol unopened. And as long you have the proper permits and adhere to alcohol shipping regulations and restrictions, you can send it.
- Can you mail liquids?
You can mail liquids. However, there are restrictions and guidelines you must follow before shipping. Some of these guidelines include using leak-proof containers and declaring whether the liquids are flammable or hazardous.
For a comprehensive guide on how you can mail liquids and the restrictions you must remember, visit the official websites of U.S. carriers like USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL.
Conversely, you can inquire about regulations on mailing liquids at your local post office in person. FindPostOffice.org has a facility locator tool that lets you search for the most convenient post office in your area.