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How to Ship Alcohol Legally in All 50 States (2020)

Breweries

How to Ship Alcohol Legally in All 50 States (2020)

April 15, 2020

mailing-alcohol

We live in a world of e-commerce, where we have everything from groceries to furniture to medicine – and everything in-between – delivered directly to our homes. However, this doesn’t apply to the alcohol industry and selling alcohol online.

That’s because shipping beer, spirit, or wine to consumers comes with its own set of rules and regulations that presents a bigger challenge than simply boxing up a bottle and dropping it in a mailbox.

Is It Legal to Mail Alcohol?

There isn’t a universal answer to this question, as it depends on the laws and regulations in each state, city, and county that both the seller and buyer are located in.  

Why is that? When Prohibition ended with the 21st Amendment, it gave states the power to regulate and set their own laws on the sale of alcoholic beverages in their states.

There are some universal rules for shipping alcohol that include:

  • Alerting the carrier that a shipment contains alcohol
  • Paying a special alcohol package fee
  • An adult that is 21 or older must sign for the package

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How to Ship Alcohol In-State

Shipping alcohol in-state is the simplest alcohol shipping method but is still convoluted and confusing.

Since you won’t be crossing state lines, you’ll only need to meet the alcohol shipping requirements of the state you’re located in. However, you will need to be familiar with the local city laws for the different towns and municipalities in your state. Luckily, alcohol distributors should already be familiar with their local laws regarding alcohol production, distribution, and sales.

Consumers can also use one of the many alcohol e-commerce and delivery app companies such as Drizly or WineDirect to order alcohol directly to their home or to send beer, wine, or spirits to a friend.

How to Mail Alcohol Out-of-State

When you cross state lines, the shipment of alcohol becomes more difficult. That its because you now must meet the requirements and regulations in both the state you’re shipping from and the state you’re shipping to.

There is a loophole that helps consumers ship beer, liquor, and wine to other states – if that other state permits the shipment of alcohol to consumers. Instead of shipping a bottle from your state to their state, simply find a retailer based in the state you’re shipping to and order it from that retailer. That way the retailer won’t need to cross state lines and only meet the rules of their state’s alcohol regulation board.

How to Ship Alcohol Internationally

Importing and exporting alcohol across country borders presents even more challenges. You’ll now need to meet state, city, and country laws, as well as be familiar with exporting and importing laws.

You’ll need to ensure that the distributor sending the shipment has the correct permits or the US government can seize your shipment. You’ll also need to be aware of taxes and duties for international beer, spirit, and wine imports.

We recommend not managing international alcohol shipping yourself – instead, work with reliable third-party retailers and compliance companies to ship beer, liquor, and wine orders.

Stay on top of the latest alcohol trends and regulations

Shipping Beer, Liquor, and Wine with USPS

USPS prohibits all shipments of beer, spirits, and wine both domestically and internationally. USPS also has strict laws on the packaging for shipments that previously carried alcohol. If a package has any labels or branding of an alcohol company, USPS will not process the shipment and reject it.

Learn how to sell alcohol online & the regulations for online sales in all 50 states. 

Shipping Beer, Liquor, and Wine with UPS

UPS allows direct-to-consumer alcohol shipment, with a number of strict rules. You can find all the UPS rules and regulations on the UPS Wine & Alcoholic Beverage Program page.

UPS alcohol shipment rules include:

  • You have a UPS account number
  • You have signed an alcohol shipping agreement contact with UPS
  • You have a federal license to ship alcohol
  • You have the correct permits to ship alcohol in the states your sending to
  • You must follow the guidelines set in both the sending and receivers state
  • You must use inner packaging of EPS foam or molded fiber tray
  • You must package the alcohol in the center of the shipment, away from the package’s sides
  • Your package must be deemed sturdy by UPS
  • You must clearly label the shipment and meet UPS, origin state, and destination state guidelines
  • You must clearly label the package as containing alcohol
  • You must receive a signature upon delivery from an adult that is 21 or older

Shipping Beer, Liquor, and Wine with FedEx

FedEx allows direct-to-consumer alcohol shipment, with a number of strict rules as well. You can find all the FedEx rules and regulations on the FedEx Delivery Resources page.

FedEx alcohol shipment rules include:

  • You have a FedEx account number
  • You have signed an alcohol shipping agreement contact with FedEx through your account manager
  • You must use inner packaging of EPS foam or molded fiber tray
  • You must package the alcohol in the center of the shipment, away from the package’s sides
  • Your package must be deemed sturdy by FedEx
  • You must clearly label the shipment and meet FedEx guidelines
  • You must clearly label the package as containing alcohol
  • You must receive a signature upon delivery from an adult that is 21 or older

Download our free liquor store business plan to start selling alcohol in a liquor store!

Each State’s Direct-to-Consumer Compliance Rules on Shipping Alcohol

Each state has different laws for shipping alcohol in-state, between states, and internationally, as well as treating beer, spirits, and wine differently. To help break down each state’s alcohol shipping laws, here is a breakdown by state:

*Note: The descriptions below should not be considered a legal reference and should be used only for general informational purposes. 

Alabama

PROHIBITED. Alcohol shipments to consumers is prohibited in the state of Alabama. Certain residents can apply for a special order request but must be fulfilled through the Alabama Alcohol Beverage Control Board.

Alaska

ALLOWED. Alaska has relaxed shipping laws for alcohol. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Alaska, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Arizona

ALLOWED. Arizona has relaxed shipping laws for alcohol. In 2017 Arizona removed a rule limiting the number of bottles alcohol distributors could send to consumers, making the state even more alcohol-delivery friendly. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Arizona, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Arkansas

ON-SITE ONLY. Arkansas restricts alcohol shipping to businesses that have received a permit to ship alcohol directly to in-state Arkansas residents that also made the purchase at the distributor’s business.

California

ALLOWED. California is responsible for the largest market for alcohol delivery, and the state’s compliance laws are very relaxed, especially for in-state fulfillment. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Arizona, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Colorado

ALLOWED. Colorado has one of the ten largest markets for liquor, beer, and wine delivery and has relaxed laws for alcohol by mail. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Colorado, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Connecticut

ALLOWED. Alcohol distributors are able to ship their products in Connecticut if they are compliant. However, the cost of compliance and acquiring a license is one of the most expensive processes in the US.

Delaware

ON-SITE ONLY. Delaware has very tight regulations on alcohol delivery. Currently, breweries, distilleries, and wineries can ship to residents of Delaware prepackaged alcohol if it was purchased by a Delaware resident on-site at the business selling the alcohol. All online, phone, and subscription clubs sales are prohibited.

Florida

ALLOWED. Florida has one of the top five largest markets for alcohol delivery in the country and has relaxed laws for alcohol delivery fulfillment. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Florida, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Georgia

ALLOWED. Georgia is one of the ten largest markets for alcohol delivery and has relaxed laws for alcohol by mail. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Georgia, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Hawaii

ALLOWED. Hawaii has relaxed laws for alcohol delivery fulfillment, due in part to its remote location away from the US mainland. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Hawaii, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Idaho

ALLOWED. Idaho has relaxed laws for alcohol delivery fulfillment and is a growing market for craft alcohol. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Idaho, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Illinois

ALLOWED. Illinois is one of the ten largest markets for alcohol delivery due to being home to Chicago, and has relaxed laws for alcohol by mail. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Illinois, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Indiana

ALLOWED. Only recently has Indiana opened up its laws for alcohol delivery, but now has relaxed laws for alcohol by mail. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Indiana, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Iowa

ALLOWED. Iowa has relaxed laws for alcohol delivery fulfillment and is a growing market for craft alcohol. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Iowa, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Kansas

ALLOWED. Kansas has relaxed laws for alcohol delivery fulfillment and is a growing market for those looking at developing direct-to-consumer states. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Kansas, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Kentucky

ON-SITE ONLY. All types of out-of-state alcohol shipments to consumers are prohibited. However, there are some state laws that indicate that wineries that acquire a permit for DtC delivery orders of wine to Kentucky residents.

Be cautious, as many counties in Kentucky are “dry” meaning they prohibit the sale of alcohol, meaning breaking these laws carry big consequences. Because of that, no shipping carriers accept alcohol shipments in the state of Kentucky.

Louisiana

ALLOWED. Although a small market, Louisiana has relaxed laws for alcohol delivery fulfillment. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Louisiana, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Maine

ALLOWED. Maine is a smaller market, yet still has relaxed laws for alcohol delivery fulfillment. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Maine, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Maryland

ALLOWED. Due to its proximity to Washington D.C, Maryland has a middle of the pack market for alcohol delivery and has relaxed laws for alcohol delivery fulfillment. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Maryland, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Massachusetts

ALLOWED. Massachusetts has relaxed laws for alcohol delivery fulfillment – and being home to Boston and its proximity to other northeast cities makes it a great market for alcohol sales. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Massachusetts, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Michigan

ALLOWED. Michigan has relaxed laws for alcohol delivery fulfillment and is a growing market for craft alcohol. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Michigan, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Minnesota

ALLOWED. Minnesota does limit the amount of permitted alcohol sales distributors and companies can ship directly to consumers. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Minnesota, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Mississippi

PROHIBITED. All types of alcohol shipments to consumers is prohibited in the state of Mississippi – with no provisions or special requests allowed.

Missouri

ALLOWED. Missouri has a complicated set of regulations for alcohol delivery, with relaxed laws in-state shipments and prohibiting distributors from out-of-state importing their alcohol directly to consumers. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Michigan, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Montana

ALLOWED. Montana is one of the smallest delivery markets for alcohol, yet still has relaxed laws for alcohol delivery fulfillment. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Montana, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Nebraska

ALLOWED. Nebraska has relaxed laws for alcohol delivery fulfillment and is a growing market for craft alcohol. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Nebraska, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Nevada

ALLOWED. Nevada has one of the loosest set of laws for alcohol delivery fulfillment in the country, with brands allowed to ship a certain amount of alcohol without even owning a permit.

New Hampshire

ALLOWED. New Hampshire has relaxed laws for alcohol delivery fulfillment and is a growing market for craft alcohol. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in New Hampshire, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

New Jersey

ALLOWED. New Jersey has a unique set of laws for mailing alcohol directly to consumers to promote equality among their producers and distributors that prevent larger brands to ship directly to consumers. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in New Jersey, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

New Mexico

ALLOWED. New Mexico has relaxed laws for alcohol delivery. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in New Mexico, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

New York

ALLOWED. New York has relaxed laws for direct-to-consumer alcohol delivery and is the third-largest market for at-home alcohol delivery. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in New York, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

North Carolina

ALLOWED. North Carolina allows direct-to-consumer delivery but has two different sets of rules for on-site and off-site purchases, and we recommend checking with the state’s alcohol commission and regulatory board before moving forward with shipping beer, wine, and spirits in the state.

North Dakota

ALLOWED. North Dakota has relaxed laws for alcohol delivery fulfillment and is a growing market for craft alcohol. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in North Dakota, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Ohio

ALLOWED. Ohio has relaxed laws for alcohol delivery fulfillment but prohibits producers that make more than 250,000 gallons of alcohol from delivery to consumers. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Ohio, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Oklahoma

ALLOWED. Oklahoma recently relaxed its alcohol shipping laws in 2018. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Oklahoma, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Oregon

ALLOWED. Oregon is one of the ten largest markets for at-home alcohol delivery, and has relaxed laws for alcohol by mail. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Oregon, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Pennsylvania

ALLOWED. Pennsylvania only recently relaxed its alcohol shipping laws in 2016 – yet is still the 11th largest market for alcohol delivery. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Pennsylvania, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Rhode Island

ON-SITE ONLY. Rhode Island has very limiting regulations on beer, liquor, and wine delivery. Currently, craft-alcohol businesses can ship to residents of Rhode Island prepackaged alcohol if it was purchased by a Rhode Island resident on-premise at the business selling the alcohol. All online, phone, and subscription clubs sales are prohibited.

South Carolina

ALLOWED. South Carolina has relaxed laws for alcohol delivery fulfillment and is a growing market for craft alcohol. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in South Carolina, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

South Dakota

ALLOWED. South Dakota recently relaxed its alcohol delivery laws in 2016. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in South Dakota, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Tennessee

ALLOWED. Tennessee has relaxed laws for alcohol delivery fulfillment and is a growing market for craft alcohol. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Tennessee, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Texas

ALLOWED. Texas has loose laws for direct-to-consumer alcohol delivery and is the second market for at-home alcohol delivery. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Texas, as well as be aware of local and city laws across the state.

Utah

PROHIBITED. All types of alcohol shipments to consumers is prohibited in the state of Utah – with no provisions or special requests allowed.

Vermont

ALLOWED. Vermont has relaxed laws for alcohol delivery fulfillment and is a thriving market for craft alcohol. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Vermont, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Virginia

ALLOWED. Virginia is the ninth-largest market for direct-to-consumer beer, spirit, and wine delivery, and has relaxed laws for alcohol by mail. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Virginia, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Washington

ALLOWED. Being the second-largest producer of wine in the country and the fifth largest direct-to-consumer market in the country, Washington has relaxed laws for alcohol by mail. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Washington, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

West Virginia

ALLOWED. West Virginia has relaxed laws for alcohol delivery fulfillment and is a growing market for craft alcohol. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in West Virginia, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Wisconsin

ALLOWED. Wisconsin has relaxed laws for alcohol delivery fulfillment and is home to many craft breweries, wineries, and distilleries. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Wisconsin, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

Wyoming

ALLOWED. Wyoming has loose laws for beer, wine, and liquor delivery. You will need to become compliant for mailing alcohol to consumers in Wyoming, as well as be aware of local and city laws.

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