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A Complete Guide to Shipping Alcohol


Alcohol shipping has become more popular now than it was many years ago. According to a Forbes article released in 2020, “online sales of alcohol in the U.S. are expected to grow by more than 80% this year,” increasing the need for alcohol shipping.

But shipping alcohol can be problematic, thanks to its regulations varying from one state to another. This article explores everything you need to know about shipping alcohol within a state, from state to state, and internationally. We also describe some methods of packaging alcohol for shipping.

We’ll cover:

Can Anyone Ship Alcohol?

Not anyone can ship alcohol. Consumers in some states, for instance, are not allowed to ship alcohol in the United States. The only consumers allowed to ship alcohol are those with permits, but it is uncommon for consumers to own such licenses.

The reason consumers are unable to ship alcohol is because of the 21st amendment. After the ban on alcohol consumption was lifted in the United States, states were allowed to make their own regulations. 

States’ Direct-to-consumer laws

Thanks to the 21st amendment, each state has unique rules and regulations that pertain to the shipping of alcohol to consumers within its borders. While most states allow the shipping of alcohol directly to consumers, three prohibit it, and four others only allow it provided the consumer orders onsite.

The three states that prohibit the shipping of alcohol directly to consumers are Alabama, Mississippi, and Utah. Mississippi allows consumers older than 21 to make an order, but it goes to the state liquor store, not directly to the consumer’s address. Utah does something similar.

Arkansas, Delaware, Kentucky, and Rhode Island allow consumers to pay on-site before having their alcohol shipped to them. 

Every other state allows direct-to-consumer shipment, albeit with varying degrees of freedom. Minnesota and Ohio, for instance, place a limit on the quantity of alcohol a consumer may buy. North Carolina has minor complications in how its onsite and offsite direct-to-consumer alcohol sales are set up. And Nevada almost has no laws, even permitting the shipment of a certain amount of alcohol into the state without permits.

Packaging Alcohol for Shipping

Before any reasonable shipping is done, you first must understand how to package alcohol properly. How you package your alcohol for shipping would determine if the receiver receives spilled alcohol and shattered bottles rather than what they paid for.

Here are tips on how to package the three most common alcoholic drinks: wine, beer, and liquor. 

Packaging wine for shipping

The first step in packaging wine for shipping is to know its preferred storage condition. You’ll then try to mimic the wine’s storage condition during transit. 

For instance, some wines prefer to be stored standing while others are stored on their sides. You must transport each wine the way it should be stored.

Another tip on packaging wine for shipping is to reduce empty spaces around every bottle. The bottles risk clattering against one another until they break or crack during transit. But if you pad the empty spaces with, say, bubble wrap, you solve the clattering problem.

Labeling your wine as either alcoholic or fragile is another packaging tip that your shipment could benefit from during transit. 

Packaging beer for shipping

Packaging beer for shipping is not simple. Beer is bubbly, so its air can expand and contract like any other gas. So, if you ship beer in cans, the air could expand until the cans burst during transit. And that is why shipping beer over long distances in cans is not advisable. However, on the upside, cans offer an easy way of transporting beer.

Another packaging method for beer is through glass bottles. However, this method requires a lot of caution. And in no other beer packaging method is shrink wrapping more important than in bottle packaging. The shrink wrap secures each bottle in place to minimize clattering.

You can also package beer in kegs, which offer one of the best protection for their content during transit. However, beer kegs are not the most convenient for shipping. 

And as best as you can, try to keep your beer shipment away from the reach of sunlight and heat. Otherwise, the beer could lose its freshness and taste.

Packaging liquor for shipping

Shipping liquor is a little more tricky than shipping beer or wine, as liquor could quickly lose its taste under unfavorable conditions. And although the glass bottles that hold liquors are often thicker and less likely to crack than those that store wines and beers, proper packaging is still required. 

The packaging methods we described for beer and wine also apply to liquors. Proper padding prevents clattering of bottles, and protection from light and heat preserves freshness. You also wouldn’t be doing too much by insuring your liquor shipment. Liquor is generally more expensive than wine or beer, and compromised shipping is more costly.

Shipping Alcohol Within A State (In-State)

Alcohol shipping within a state is pretty straightforward, as long as you know the laws to follow. And in this case, the regulations to follow are those of the state, towns and municipalities you’re shipping in. The alcohol distributors in the city would be most familiar with these laws.

Shipping Alcohol Out Of Your State (Out-Of-State)

Out-of-state shipping of alcohol is just as easy as in-state shopping, only that the involved states’ laws must all be followed. This means you have to get familiar with the laws of the state you’re shipping from and the state your shipment is going. You need not worry too much about the laws of the states you’re shipping through, though, as long as you don’t open the package in transit.

But suppose you don’t want to burden yourself with the regulations of your alcohol shipment destination state, and the state permits shipping alcohol directly to consumers. In that case, there’s a way around that. You simply contact a retailer in that state and get them to ship the alcohol to your recipient. The retailer is likely to know their state laws concerning shipping alcohol, and you’re absolved of the responsibility. 

Shipping Alcohol Internationally

This is where things get a little more complicated. 

You must now get familiar with import and export shipping laws out of your country and your destination country. Then, you would need to know the alcohol shipping laws of the state and city you’re shipping to. Also, your alcohol shipments are going nowhere without the proper permits, taxes and documents. 

These laws may be hard to keep up with, so we always recommend that you rely on a third-party logistics company capable of shipping alcohol across international borders.

Shipping Alcohol Through Total Connection

You could get into trouble or have your alcohol shipment confiscated if you tried to ship it yourself without following the regulations that cover alcohol shipping. But when you entrust a reliable third-party logistics company, such as Total Connection, to the job, you can rest easy.

Total Connection is a third-party logistics company with decades of expertise in satisfying alcohol shipping customers like you. Our services not only stop at shipping alcohol, but we also provide warehousing and other supply chain services to ensure that every freight you ship through us remains in perfect condition.

Contact us through the brief quote form below to let us know about your alcohol freight. Our experts are waiting to get back to you ASAP.


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