Have you ever wanted to ship someone a nice bottle of wine? But what exactly are the rules and regulations of shipping alcohol?
And can you ship alcohol with USPS?! Or do you have to go through a private company like Fedex or UPS? We looked into it and this is what we found…
Will USPS Ship Alcohol?
USPS will not ship alcohol except in limited circumstances. The United States Postal Service has a Domestic Shipping Prohibitions and Restrictions website page, and this is where you’ll find precise information about what you can ship (and how). Alcohol is seriously restricted, but not prohibited.
This article takes a look at how to ship alcohol: which shipping companies allow it, how you are legally required do it, and what you must avoid.
Is It Illegal To Ship Alcohol Via USPS?
You’ll notice in the USPS Domestically Prohibited Items list that alcohol is not there. What you will see as prohibited (forbidden) is airbags, ammunition, explosives, gasoline, and marijuana (although Hemp CVD (non-intoxicating) is allowed but restricted).
Alcoholic beverages are listed under “restricted” items. Here it states that “Beer, wine, and liquor may not be sent through the mail, except in limited circumstances.” By following the link to Mailability, you’ll find an exact list of what you can ship through USPS and what you can’t.
You can’t ship:
- Any intoxicating liquors with more than 0.5% alcoholic content
- Promotional material which solicits or induces the mailing of intoxicating liquors
You can ship:
- Cold remedies
- Cooking wine
- Alcohol that is sent between employees of federal or state agencies who have an official use for the liquor, such as for testing purposes
It’s important to note that USPS also prohibit even the use of packaging with alcoholic labels. You must remove all logos and labels before using the packaging.
It’s also important to note that under USPS international shipping restrictions, the shipping of alcohol is completed prohibited.
What Happens If You Ship Alcohol Via USPS?
If you ship alcohol via USPS, and your shipment does not meet the criteria for alcohol that can be shipped, your package will be marked as “nonmailable.” The package will be refused and not returned into the mailing system.
If your shipment contains alcohol or is packed in a box which feature alcohol logos, stickers, or labels, the package will be returned to you (provided you included a sender address).
Can You Ship Alcohol Via UPS?
UPS is a private carrier and so operates under different restrictions to USPS. United Parcel Service will allow you to ship alcohol only under certain circumstances.
- You must have an account number with UPS
- You must have a shipping alcohol agreement with UPS
- You must have a federal and state law license to ship alcohol
- You must be familiar with and abide by state law licenses regarding the shipping of alcohol – this means the sender state and receiver state
- You must use UPS approved packaging
- You must clearly label your shipment according to UPS (and destination state) guidelines
- Your shipment will not be delivered to anyone under the age of 21
- Your shipment requires a signature upon delivery
- The receiver of the package must provide identification
USP have handy information pages on their website where you’ll find everything you need to know about shipping alcohol with them. The “Who can ship wine?” page, for example, will tell you how you can become an approved wine shipper, but it’s not a quick process.
Shipping alcohol overseas gets even more complicated. USPS have published an international alcohol shipping guide for those interested in becoming licensed to export wine.
Can You Ship Alcohol Via FedEx
The multinational transport company FedEx have different regulations again. They state that individual consumers cannot ship alcohol through them at all. They will only ship alcohol for businesses with the appropriate alcohol licenses.
Approved businesses must show awareness of individual state regulations around shipping wine direct to customers. These regulations differ from state to state. Approved businesses must also enter into a FedEx Alcohol Shipping Agreement.
If you’re interested in becoming an approved business, FedEx have published all the information you need on their “How to become an authorized alcohol shipper with FedEx” page.
You’ll noticed that the authorization procedure requires an interview with a FedEx account executive.
If you do ship alcohol via FedEx without complying with these regulations, FedEx have the right to halt the shipment and either return the shipment to you (at your expense) or destroy the shipment.
FedEx will also not deliver an alcohol shipment if the receiver is under the age of 21, or cannot show the required identification, or is intoxicated. Again, the shipment will be returned to you at your expense.
How Do You Ship Alcohol To A Friend?
The easiest way to deliver alcohol to a friend or family member is to purchase your wine and then have the licensed wine store or winery send it for you.
Businesses which are licensed to ship alcohol will be aware of the very complicated applicable federal, state, and local laws. When you purchase your alcohol, make sure you clear the destination of the wine with the seller. Some states do not allow delivery of alcohol to individuals.
The only other way to ship alcohol (if you’re not a business) is to comply with the UPS regulations for becoming an approved wine shipper. Your agreement document will contain information on winery and retailer direct shipment states. Once approved you can choose from a selection of UPS shipping services.
If you’re wanting to ship alcohol to friends or family overseas, again the best way is to purchase the wine online and have the merchant ship the wine for you. This way, you can avoid navigating your way through international shipping regulations and restrictions and necessary customs forms.
If you want to ship wine within the US, you have to know (and comply with) your sender and receiver state laws for the receipt of alcohol.
This can make sending the gift of wine very complicated. You can’t ship with USPS at all, but you can organize shipping through FedEx or UPS – but it isn’t simple.
If you’re going to be shipping a lot of wine, it might be worth your while making an account and becoming licensed.
Otherwise, consider purchasing alcohol online and letting the merchant take care of your delivery.