How To Ship Alcohol in the US: The Complete Guide

Illustration of a delivery man loading a truck with a shipment of beer.

If you’re just getting started selling private label wine, you need to know the rules and regulations around shipping alcohol in the US so you can successfully sell directly to your customers. As the popularity of online shopping continues to grow, many states have made it easier to ship alcohol directly to consumers, bypassing the need to stop at the local grocery store or beer and wine superstore. But some states still prohibit alcohol from being shipped, and not all shipping carriers will deliver alcohol, even in states that allow it. 

In this post, we’ll explore how to ship alcohol where it is legal, detailing the process of how to ship beer and liquor directly to consumers. We’ll also explore alternatives to sending alcohol through the mail by explaining the restrictions of each major carrier, including UPS and FedEx.

Is it Legal To Mail Alcohol in the US?

December 5th, 1933 was a day worth celebrating for everyone who enjoyed a sip of something a bit stronger than black tea every now and again. This date marks the ratification of the 21st Amendment, which formally ended the Prohibition era in the US. But along with the reintroduction (at least officially) of alcohol into everyday life, the 21st Amendment returned power to each state to regulate the use of alcohol within its borders. This birthed a confusing patchwork of state specifications for how alcohol is regulated. 

So, can you ship alcohol? The short answer is: it depends. Mailing alcohol is completely illegal in a handful of states and wide open in a handful of others. For the majority of states, it’s legal, but with varying levels of regulatory complexity. 

Mailing Alcohol In-State

Shipping alcohol in-state is much simpler than shipping it out-of-state, because you only have to contend with one state’s regulations on how to ship beer, wine, or liquor. But some local government entities like individual counties and cities may have their own set of regulations. Before mailing alcohol in-state, make sure you are familiar with any state or local laws that affect how you can ship alcohol. 

Mailing Alcohol Out-of-State

Things get twice as complex when shipping alcohol across state lines. That’s because shipping beer or other alcoholic beverages out-of-state requires that you know and follow the regulations for your state and local government entities, as well as those of the state where the shipment is headed. 

An illustration of a delivery truck traveling with goods.

In Which States Is it Illegal To Mail Alcohol?

Only two states have blanket bans on mailing alcohol directly to consumers: Mississippi and Utah. If you live in one of these states and value the convenience of having your favorite brews or bubbly shipped directly to your doorstep, it’s time to move. 

Regulations on how to ship alcohol in the remaining 48 states vary from relatively relaxed to very restrictive. The National Conference on State Legislatures has a very helpful resource on their website that explains each state’s current regulations on shipping alcohol in detail. 

Which Carriers Will Ship Alcohol?

Each shipping company has their own list of regulations for shipping alcohol. Most will ship wine, beer, and other alcoholic beverages, provided you follow their guidelines. 

How To Mail Alcohol with USPS

So can you send alcohol through the mail? Unfortunately, the answer is no. The United States Postal Service will not ship alcohol under any circumstances. In fact, you can’t even use an old beer or wine box to ship other goods. If there’s any alcohol-related branding visible on the outside of the box, the USPS won’t accept the shipment, regardless of what’s inside. 

How To Mail Alcohol with UPS

Can you ship alcohol via UPS? Fortunately, the answer to this question is more favorable. UPS will ship wine, beer, and spirits, provided you enter into a specialized carriage contract for each. You must hold the appropriate government licenses for shipping the specific type of alcohol you intend to send in both your state and, where applicable, the destination state. UPS requires that an individual carrier agreement be in place for beer, wine, and spirits, as each type of alcohol comes with its own unique set of licensing and shipping requirements. UPS allows direct-to-consumer shipments as well as other shipping arrangements, including shipments from one alcohol license to another, intra and interstate retailer, and brewery shipments, when permitted by law. 

As you might imagine, shipping alcohol with UPS comes with lots of requirements and restrictions — too many to list here. The process for entering into a contract with UPS to ship each type of alcohol and the specific shipping requirements for each can be found on the UPS website as noted below.

How To Mail Alcohol with FedEx

Like UPS, FedEx will accept direct-to-consumer and licensee-to-licensee alcohol shipments where permitted by law. FedEx only accepts shipments from licensed alcohol shippers who have been approved by FedEx. FedEx doesn’t have separate carrier agreements for wine, beer, and spirits. Instead, they have a single process for becoming an approved alcohol shipper.

Illustration of a man delivering alcohol to a group of friends grilling out.

Ready To Start Shipping Your Beer, Wine, and Liquor?

You can ship alcohol to most states, provided you follow the state and local regulations specific to where you’re shipping from and to. Shipping beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages across state lines is a fantastic way to develop a customer base outside of your local area. 

We work with alcohol producers, retailers, and wholesalers to provide a range of customizable folding cartons that look great and provide plenty of protection during shipping. We also offer a full line of custom wine labels and beer labels.

If you have any questions about label selection or printing, don’t hesitate to contact the Experience Team by phone or Live Chat! Our team is ready to serve your business with care and excellence.

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