8.9.2021

How to Ship Alcohol in All 50 States (Law and Courier Regulations)

Written by Aine Hendron

send alcohol

When Prohibition ended, the 21st Amendment gave state governments the power to regulate and set their own individual laws regarding alcohol. So naturally, rules about shipping alcohol vary from state to state.

There are some rules that apply to all 50 states:

  • You must tell the courier if the package contains alcohol.
  • You pay a special alcohol shipping fee.
  • You must be 21 or older to sign for a package containing alcohol [1].

Please note this guide should be used for general informational purposes only. Please refer to your state’s alcohol beverage regulatory agency if you have questions regarding shipping alcohol in your state. All information is accurate as of August 2021. 

Let’s take a closer look at how to ship alcohol per state, and per courier. 

Couriers

Couriers have their own regulations regarding alcohol, regardless of state law. Even if it is perfectly legal to send alcohol in your area, you must comply with the service’s regulations in order to ship. 

In order to have alcohol delivered, there is an adult signature requirement (ASR). This means somebody over 21 must sign for the package, or risk having it confiscated.

USPS

USPS doesn’t allow any type of intoxicating liquor to be sold - intoxicating liquors being those that contain more than 0.5% alcohol. This includes prescription and collector’s items. 

According to their website, USPS will allow a product containing more than 0.5% alcohol if it meets IRS and FDA requirements if it’s not a taxable alcoholic beverage, is poisonous, or flammable [2]. Examples of products that fit this category include cold remedies, cooking wine, and mouthwash. 

UPS

UPS says that they only accept packages containing wine from shippers who are licensed under law, and who have signed and entered into a contract with UPS for the transportation of wine.

For shipments containing beer or spirits, senders must enter into an approved UPS agreement for the transportation of beer or spirits as applicable. The sender must also be licensed and authorized under applicable law to ship beer and spirits. For example, a licensed manufacturer may ship to a licensed distributor or retailer. "Licensed to Licensed" shipments cannot be made to consumers.

Wine can be sent directly to a consumer if they are being sent from a licensed winery within the state and from out of state [3].

FedEx

Consumers cannot ship alcohol of any type using FedEx. Only FedEx-approved, licensed alcohol shippers that have entered into a FedEx Alcohol Shipping Agreement can ship alcohol via FedEx services.

The sender must be approved by FedEx, and the recipient must be a business entity that holds appropriate alcohol licenses. State and federal laws still apply [4].

DHL

DHL will send most types of alcohol on request, including spirits. In order to be approved, you must be a licensed producer or wholesaler who resides in a DHL permitted state. Senders can submit documentation for review and wait for approval to ship. DHL permits the shipping of alcohol in 37 states. 

DHL does not allow you to ship alcohol from the following states: Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming [5].

Shipments must adhere to all FDA and TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) guidelines and regulations, and you must display a shipping label.

State law per seller

Even if you can figure out other carriers' rules and regulations, you've got municipal, state, and national rules to follow, too. This process is even more complicated if you’re shipping out of state. There are laws and regulations that determine the specific type of alcohol that is shipped, and who exactly is permitted to sell or gift alcohol to another adult. 

Consumers and non-licensed individuals

Shipping alcohol is illegal unless you have the proper permits and licensing that allows you to distribute alcohol. This is thanks to federal regulations that were put in place after the 21st amendment [6].

There is a (legal) loophole to sending alcohol to family and friends, though. Consumers, or people without alcohol licenses, can still order from a retailer or winery and send it directly to your friend’s address within the same state. 

Alcohol e-commerce and delivery companies such as Drizly, Minibar, and WineDirect allow non-licensed people to order alcohol directly to themselves or a friend. This is a much simpler option than trying to navigate shipping a bottle of wine to a friend from home. 

Licensed selling

In Alabama, it’s illegal to send any kind of alcohol directly to a consumer via mail, licensed or not. Some US territories don’t specify in their laws whether or not shipments are allowed, such as Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands [6].

There are also rules around what type of alcohol can be sold. The specific beverage with the most flexibility is wine. 40 out of 50 states allow wine to be shipped in some capacity, either directly to another person, or to a liquor or retail store, or to a wholesaler. Only six states, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, allow the direct shipment of all spirits. 

Every state’s direct-to-consumer laws

Each state has different laws for shipping alcohol in and out of state, and internationally. As mentioned, there are different rules for sending beer, spirits, and wine. Here is a state-by-state breakdown of the regulations for selling alcohol directly to consumers.

Prohibited

Alabama, Mississippi, and Utah

All types of alcohol shipments are prohibited in Mississippi and Utah, with no exceptions. In some very limited circumstances, consumers can receive alcohol via mail in Alabama if approved and fulfilled by the Alabama Alcohol Beverage Control Board, otherwise, it’s illegal.

On-site only

Arkansas, Delaware, Kentucky, Rhode Island

People living in these states can receive certain packages of alcohol if they were purchased on-site on an approved premise. Delaware allows breweries, distilleries and wineries to shop pre-packaged alcohol paid for on-site, whereas Rhode Island is much more restrictive about these types of parcels. They do permit craft beer orders bought on-site to be delivered.

In Delaware, Kentucky, and Rhode Island, all online and subscription alcohol clubs are completely prohibited.

All types of out-of-state alcohol shipments to consumers are prohibited in Kentucky. In-state, some wineries can ship if they have a permit. 

Permitted

Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin

These states have relatively relaxed laws for alcohol delivery fulfillment. However, shippers must still remain compliant with city and local laws, and the destination state laws if sending out of state. Most of these states require a license to ship. Check with a state attorney or your state’s website for extra clarification. 

Minnesota and Ohio both have limitations on the amount of alcohol sold to consumers. Missouri’s regulations are also slightly complicated, with direct deliveries to consumers from out-of-state being prohibited.

In North Carolina, there are different rules for on-site and off-site alcohol purchases that affect in and out of state shipments.

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 [7].

Liquor Store POS

If you own a liquor store, you’ll need an expert Liquor Store Point of Sale (POS) system to manage your valuable inventory, and track the success of your store with ease. 

Keep track of all bottles, cans, and other products directly from your liquor store POS. Use cutting-edge stock management software that tracks each item across every channel.

  • Create alerts so you can see when inventory is running low
  • Automatically send purchase orders, saving labor costs and stress
  • Identify and liquidate underperforming stock to prevent shrinkage
  • Create barcodes to make checkout faster
  • See all stock in real-time from anywhere on any device

Get a complete overhead view so you can make big-picture decisions regarding staff, sales, and products. Manage your store from any location or device using your liquor store POS software.

  • View sales analytics to identify and market trending products
  • Review historic transactions to create forecasts and estimates
  • Create customizable sales reports, sorting by cost, list price, and profit margin
  • Make accounting a breeze with accounting integrations like Quickbooks and Sage

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