Federal Regulations on Shipping Beer & Wine

Written by marika josephson
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Federal Regulations on Shipping Beer & Wine
So you're on vacation and you want to send back some wine. How do you do it? (glass with a wine image by mashe from Fotolia.com)

Every state has different regulations on the shipment of beer and wine, and many of the arcane rules come out of post-Prohibition concerns. Consult your state's rules when shipping, keeping in mind that some companies do not ship alcohol at all. It may seem daunting, but there are ways to legally ship beer and wine. Learn a few guidelines that will help you understand the regulations, and determine how best to go about shipping.

Alcohol Beverage Control Boards (ABCs)

Alcohol Beverage Control Boards (ABCs) are each state's regulating body for alcohol. Eighteen states have a "Control" system, which means that the state is the sole wholesaler of liquor. On the other hand, 32 states regulate alcohol by licensing other entities within the state the power to sell alcohol. Every state has an ABC, and all information about state regulations can be found there.

Domestic Shipping Services

As a rule, the United States Postal Service will not ship any alcoholic beverage, nor will they ship boxes with liquor labels on the outside. Many courier services also refuse the service. UPS and FedEx will ship between selected states as long as the shipper and the receiver are appropriately licensed. Different licenses are required for shipping wine or beer and other liquors.

International Shipments

When travelling abroad, many people want to bring back more wine or beer than they can carry. Some countries have shipping companies that can ship back to the United States. Those companies will give you shipping costs, and most even know your state's regulations about international shipping. There are taxes associated with the shipment, which are not reimbursable. Taxes vary by alcohol content. Wine also varies by whether it is still or sparkling. As of March 2009, the duty on still wine was 8.4 cents per litre, and sparkling wine was 19.8 cents per litre.

Online Retailers and Buying On Site

A few online liquor retailers have shipping licenses. If sending a gift or even ordering for yourself, this may be the simplest option for shipping wine and beer. Many wineries are also permitted to ship to you if you buy your wine on site and ship it back to yourself. Again, this option will avoid the headache of navigating state regulations when shipping on your own.

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