Sending a bottle of wine to a friend or colleague overseas seems like a simple enough gesture. But U.S. laws regarding the shipment of alcohol are surprisingly complex. The U.S. Postal Service prohibits shipping any liquor that contains 0.5 per cent or more alcohol by content both within and from the United States. FedEx and UPS allow shipments of alcohol, but the shipper must have a liquor license. The safest and only legal way to send wine overseas is to locate a distributor with a state liquor license and pay them to send the alcohol for you.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Bubble wrap
- Packing material
- Cardboard box
Confirm that the intended recipient's country allows shipments of alcohol. View a list of eligible countries at FedEx.com.
Locate a licensed wholesaler, distributor, dealer or manufacturer of alcohol from your state. Try browsing a phone book or the online yellow pages for a local winery, wine wholesaler or dealer. Ask the company if they make international shipments of wine for consumers. If you have a particular wine in mind, check to see if the manufacturer will ship directly.
Select a wine to be shipped from the licensed company, or deliver your own. If packing your own wine, wrap bottles with bubble wrap, making sure that the wrap forms a barrier at least one inch thick. Secure the wrap with packing tape. If shipping a case of wine, remove and individually wrap each bottle.
Place wine bottles on their side in a sturdy cardboard box and fill any empty space with packing peanuts, folded bubble wrap, newspaper or towels. Ideally, the box will be large enough to fit the wrapped wine bottles and another layer of packing material, but not so big that the wine has room to shift around.
Lift the box and check to see that it does not sag or feel too heavy. Use more than one box if there appears to be a chance that the cardboard could break. Securely tape all boxes shut.
Address the package, deliver it to the licensed distributor and pay for the company to send the wine.
Tips and warnings
- Attempting to ship wine through the U.S. Postal Service is not just prohibited; it's a federal offence. Consequences for shipping alcohol through FedEx and UPS are not as severe, but you still risk paying a fine and having the wine confiscated.
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