How to Sell Alcohol Online (+Delivery Laws in All 50 States)
April 04, 2020
Now more than ever, small businesses need to be versatile. Over the past few decades, the popularity of online shopping has exploded, even for small and independent businesses. This even goes for the food and industry – over 25% of US consumers say they order delivery or takeout once on a normal week.
What We’ll Cover in This Article
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a landmark number of restaurants and breweries that continue to operate have had to close their dining and drinking areas to the public, allowed only to serve their goods to patrons by delivery or curbside pickup.
These changes have prompted many states to give more leeway to breweries and restaurants, allowing them to sell and deliver wine, beer, and liquor through online stores and apps to keep them afloat in these difficult times.
Alcohol delivery has historically been a more realistic option for chain businesses like grocery stores or for apps that exist solely for that purpose. For breweries, bars, and independent restaurants, things have been a little different. Without the capacity to host their own online ordering or delivery solutions, many smaller businesses have had to opt-out of these opportunities in the past.
Thankfully, several to-go & delivery apps for breweries that have entered the market in recent years to make it more feasible for breweries to sell alcohol and coordinate local deliveries online. 2ndKitchen’s 2Go even has options for curbside pickup as well as donation management. For long-distance shipping of alcohol, which can also be tricky, a more run-of-the-mill e-commerce solution may be more fitting, as long as the restrictions of the shipping services you use are strictly adhered to.
Learn how to legally ship alcohol in all 50 states with our direct-to-consumer guide to shipping beer, liquor, & wine.
For those who want to manage the beer and liquor delivery themselves, you’ll need a delivery license to delivery alcohol. Here is how you can acquire an alcohol delivery license for your business.
1. Research Your State’s Current Liquor Laws
If your brewery is already up and running, you’ve already gone through the process of getting your liquor license from the appropriate state licensing board. To incorporate local delivery into your services, you may need to dig a little deeper to find out how.
Certain states have passed laws explicitly allowing home delivery of alcohol, but many states’ laws state neither whether it is forbidden or allowed. If your state’s laws do not address home delivery, the licensing board likely has set processes to deal with the issue.
2. Get the Right Liquor License
Depending on the types of alcohol your business sells, you may need multiple licenses, and depending on your state, you may need an additional liquor license specifically for delivery. Your best bet is to thoroughly research your state’s liquor laws and the different types of licenses they require before spending the energy or money on filing an application.
3. Do The Paperwork
Once you know what type of license you’ll need and what you’ll need to apply, you’ll need to file the paperwork and await the decision of your state’s liquor authority. You may need to submit specifically by mail, online, or even in person, and notification of your approval or denial may take up to a few months.
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The laws concerning direct-to-consumer sales of alcohol are a bit convoluted and typically handled on a state by state basis. Because third-party apps use local vendors and delivery persons to carry out orders, as long as they comply with all explicitly stated state laws regarding the shipment, sale, and delivery of alcohol, their services are largely considered legal.
Out of state shipments are more clearly regulated in state laws, so manufacturers should read thoroughly to be sure they are in compliance in both the state they are shipping from and the state they are shipping to.
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Many states have allowed home delivery for years, but these regulations have often been very restrictive, making this option infeasible for many breweries and restaurants. We’ve put together a list of current alcohol shipment and delivery laws for each state so you can determine whether shipping or delivering alcohol to your patrons is right for your business.
*Note: The descriptions below should not be considered a legal reference and should be used only for general informational purposes.
Alabama completely prohibits deliveries of any alcoholic beverage in the state. Doing so is considered a misdemeanor. 26 of the 67 counties in this state are dry, meaning they do not permit the sale of alcohol at all.
Alaska allows businesses with a winery license to sell and ship wine in quantities of less than five gallons as long as it is going to an area where importation and possession of alcohol are permitted.
This state requires a license specifically for direct shipment of up to 12 nine-liter cases of wine only. These licenses are valid for one year.
Retailers may deliver liquor with a bar, beer and wine bar, liquor store, or beer and wine store liquor license.
Arkansas allows one case of any “vinous liquor” to any single customer per quarter. Purchases must be made at the winery and identification must be shown. Shipments can only go to private residences and deliveries should be made during legal purchasing hours.
California Allows shipments of up to two nine-liter cases per month to any adult California Resident. Shipments need to be clearly labeled and delivered to a non-intoxicated adult. Direct shippers must apply for and be granted a permit to deliver within the state, even if located in another.
During the COVID-19 Pandemic, California is allowing restaurants, breweries, and bars to sell beer, wine, and even pre-mixed cocktails with to-go and delivery orders as long as they are purchased with food items.
Colorado allows wine with a winery direct shipper’s permit. As long as it is delivered to adult personal consumers within the state. Shipments need to be expressly labeled and delivered to persons over 21.
This state allows businesses with a manufacturer permit for a farm to sell wine, cider, and mead, ship up to five gallons of wine within the state in any two-month period. Deliveries need to be properly labeled and delivered to an adult. Out of state shipping requires a separate permit. Shipping of beer is only permitted as part of a gift basket with a gift basket retailer permit.
Delaware prohibits direct shipment of alcohol. Instead, shippers need to deliver wine or beer to an in-state wholesaler, which will deliver to an off-premises retail license holder, who then delivers to the consumer.
District of Columbia
Washington D.C. Allows shipment of wine, spirits, and beer. This requires a manufacturer, wholesaler’s, common carrier’s, or retailer’s license. The capital’s ban on dining in during the Coronavirus pandemic has led the Council to pass an emergency relief bill allowing alcohol delivery for the duration of the bans.
This state allows businesses with a manufacturer’s or wholesaler’s license, or a particular exporter’s registration to ship alcoholic beverages directly to consumers.
Georgia permits direct-to-consumer wine sales by businesses with a special order shipping license. Sellers can send up to 12 cases of wine to a single consumer or address each year.
Due to Coronavirus foodservice shutdowns, the city of Atlanta instated a 60-day order allowing restaurants to sell beer and wine to go during the crisis.
Hawaii’s regulations state that liquor may be shipped directly to customers with an individual permit for each shipment, which can be as large as five gallons. Sending wine is a little less strict, requiring only a direct wine shipper permit. Customers may receive six nine-liter cases of wine to their households annually.
In Idaho, shipping wine into the state is permitted with a direct shipper permit. This permit includes a $50 annual registration fee if the winery doesn’t have a current liquor license in the state. Shippers also need to register with Idaho’s state tax commission to pay Sales & Use taxes on the wine sold.
In Illinois, selling wine directly requires a winery shipping license. Any adult resident may receive up to 12 standard cases of wine per year and packages must be clearly labeled and delivered to a signee at least 21 years of age.
In 2015, Illinois lifted a requirement for breweries to make sales in person, allowing for local deliveries. Just recently, due to the onset of the Novel Coronavirus pandemic Illinois became one of many states to temporarily allow restaurants, bars, and breweries, to make unopened alcohol available for delivery or pickup.
In Indiana, shipping wine is allowed if a business has a direct wine seller’s permit. Consumers are limited to receiving 216 liters of wine per year.
In Iowa, wine manufacturers may ship wine directly to customers with a wine direct shipper license. Manufacturers of native wines may ship within the state with a Class A wine permit. All wine shipped to a resident needs to be clearly labeled.
Kansas allows wine to be shipped with a special order shipping license. Any consumer in the state is permitted to receive up to 12 standard cases of wine each year. During the Coronavirus outbreak, Kansas is allowing liquor-license holders to offer curbside pickup of beer and wine, and delivery of liquor.
In this state, wine and liquor may only be delivered to a customer if they are adults who have purchased the product, subscription, or club in person.
Louisiana legalized the delivery of alcohol to consumers’ homes in 2019. In Louisiana, wine producers may sell up to 12 cases of wine or sparkling wine to any customer in a given year. Deliveries need to be clearly labeled and accepted by a person age 21 or older.
Maine allows wine to be shipped directly to customers with a direct shipper license. Shipments may contain no more than 12 cases to any recipient address in a year.
Wine and pomace brandy may be shipped directly to customers in Maryland if the shipper has a direct wine shipper’s permit. A shipper may send up to 18 nine-liter cases to any address over the course of one year. Recipients must be 21 years old to accept a shipment, and the wine received may not be resold.
Due to a statewide dine-in ban during the Coronavirus Pandemic, Maryland is allowing license-holding businesses to sell alcohol for takeout and delivery.
In this state, wine may be shipped to customers if the sender has a direct wine shipper license. A Massachusetts resident may only receive up to nine liters of wine per case. Beer may be shipped by farmer-brewery licensees to their customers.
Direct wine sales in Michigan require a direct shipper license, which costs $100 annually. Any shipper is limited to selling 1500 nine-liter cases in the state in any year.
Wineries may ship just two standard cases of wine to any Minnesota resident per calendar year. This state is pretty strict with local deliveries as well. Retailers need an off-sale license and delivery drivers must have detailed delivery tickets with them while transporting the product.
Mississippi’s state liquor regulations do not specify whether the direct shipment of alcohol is permitted. The state’s Department of Revenue states that it is illegal for wine ordered online to be brought into the state.
In Missouri, shipping wine requires a wine direct shipper license. Residents may receive up to two cases of wine per month.
Montana allows a direct shipment endorsement from the state. Residents may receive up to 18 nine-liter cases of wine annually. The state allows beer shipments with a connoisseur’s license. Recipients may receive up to 288 bottles or 12 cases of beer from an out of state brewery each year.
Shipping liquor in Nebraska requires a manufacturer direct sales shipping license or retail direct sales shipping license. Any legal customer may receive up to nine liters of liquor per month.
Through the Coronavirus pandemic, the state will allow Class I and Class A license holders to offer beer, wine, and spirits for delivery and takeout sales. Restaurants and bars will be able to deliver alcohol by drive-through or curbside pickup so customers don’t have to exit their car.
A vendor may ship up to one gallon of alcoholic beverages per month or 12 cases of wine per year to a given customer.
New Hampshire allows the shipment of beer, wine, and liquor with a direct shipper permit. Consumers may receive up to 60 one-liter containers and 12 nine-liter cases of wine per year. They may receive up to 27 gallons of beer or other beverages in individual containers in one year.
As part of the state’s COVID-19 relief measures, New Hampshire is allowing beer and wine to be sold with takeout orders.
New Jersey allows the shipment of wine, cider, or mead with a plenary winery license, farm winery license, out of state winery or cidery license, or meadery license. Customers may receive up to 12 cases of wine per year.
Wine or cider may be shipped to New Mexico customers if the sender has a direct wine shipment permit. Customers may receive up to two nine-liter cases of wine each month. This state’s regulations include orders placed online.
This state allows up to 36 cases of wine to be shipped by a sender with an out-of-state direct shipper’s license.
Due to a statewide order for breweries and restaurants to switch completely to delivery and takeout, New York’s State Liquor Authority is allowing them to begin including liquor along with food orders.
Generally, alcoholic beverages may only be shipped to North Carolina residents who hold valid wholesaler’s permits. Wine may be shipped in an amount up to two cases per month to a customer if the sender has a wine shipper permit.
North Dakota requires senders to have a direct shipping license in order to ship wine or beer. Customers may receive up to 27 liters of wine, 288 fluid ounces of beer, or nine liters of other alcoholic beverages per month.
Shipments of beer or wine are permitted in Ohio with Permit S. A single household may purchase up to 24 cases of wine each year.
Shipments of wine in Oklahoma require a direct wine shipper’s permit. Wineries can ship up to six nine-liter cases of wine each year.
The state has issued a temporary order during the COVID-19 crisis to allow direct delivery of beer, wine, and spirits to customers.
Oregon allows the direct shipment of wine, cider, or malt beverages for businesses with off-premises sales licenses or a direct shipper permit.
Direct wine shipper licensees may send up to 36 standard cases of wine to customers in Pennsylvania per year.
Rhode island allows Class A license holders to deliver alcoholic beverages to adults showing a photo ID. Deliveries need to be made during legal hours for alcohol sale and need to be accompanied by a detailed invoice.
Wine may be shipped to customers in South Carolina by businesses with a winery permit or an out of state shipper’s permit.
During the COVID-19 Crisis, South Carolina is allowing licensed businesses to offer curbside pickup of beer and wine.
Shipping wine in South Dakota requires a wine direct shipping license. Shippers may send up to 12 standard cases per year to any customer.
Tennessee allows wine to be sent to its residents by businesses with a direct shipper’s license. They may send up to nine liters of wine to any customer in one month and 27 liters per year.
Texas allows shipments of wine to be made with a winery permit. The state allows these businesses to ship one consumer up to nine gallons of wine per month or 36 gallons of wine per year. The limit for total sales to ultimate consumers is 35,000 yearly.
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, Texas has ordered a temporary policy allowing liquor, beer, and wine to be sold along with takeout orders.
This state prohibits direct sales of alcohol to its residents.
Malt beverages and wine may be sent to Vermont customers by in-state or out-of-state consumer shipping license holders. Licenses may ship up to 12 cases of malt beverage or wine to any customer each year.
Virginia allows the shipment of wine and beer with a wine shipper’s or beer shipper’s license. These businesses may deliver up to four cases of wine or beer to any resident at one time without notifying the state’s Department in writing ahead of time.
During the Coronavirus Pandemic, the state is allowing businesses with on-premise liquor licenses to sell wine or beer for pickup or delivery without a delivery permit. Businesses with off-premise licenses may do the same, and distilleries are able to deliver to customers seated in their vehicles parked on-site at the distillery.
Washington allows for wine to be shipped directly to customers with a wine shipper’s permit.
During the COVID-19 crisis, the state is allowing businesses with liquor licenses to offer beer, wine, and spirits for takeout and delivery.
Shipment of wine in West Virginia requires a direct shipper’s license. Wine must be delivered by carriers with an alcohol transportation permit. Deliveries require an electronic signature for acceptance.
Wisconsin allows wine to be shipped to its residents by businesses with a direct wine shipper’s permit
Wine may be shipped to Wyoming residents by businesses with an out-of-state shipper’s license or a winery permit. Households may receive up to 36 liters of wine per year.