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Can You Ship Alcohol From The US? 4 Things To Know

Believe it or not, there was a time when the ‘land of the free’ banned selling wine, liquor, and other alcoholic beverages. Selling alcohol was prohibited during the Prohibition period, but drinking wasn’t. As a result, Americans had to find creative ways to ship their alcohol. That ban lives on up to this day with the current restrictions on the shipment of alcohol.

Most couriers would allow international shipping of alcohol from one licensee to another in a different country. But if you’re thinking of the post office when you say shipping wine in the mail, then you’ll be disappointed because your local post office can’t ship any kind of alcohol.

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Here are a few things to know if you plan to ship alcohol from the United States:

  1. Learn Some Of The Basic Rules

While couriers would have specific rules and guidelines for shipping alcohol, some basic restrictions apply to all:

  • The shipper should declare that their shipment contains alcohol.
  • The shipperhas to pay a special package fee.
  • The recipientshould be of legal age in the destination country.

Generally, most couriers have a set of rules for shipping from a licensee to another licensee overseas. They have different sets of regulations for shippinga lcohol directly to consumers. Here are some of their standard rules:

  • You should have a shipper account with the courier.
  • You should have an alcohol shipping agreement contract with the courier.
  • You should have a license to manufacture, sell, or distribute alcoholic beverages.
  • You should complete all the permits required in all the states where you will ship alcohol.
  • You should abide by all the laws and regulations of the sending and receiving countries.
  • You should put clear labels to indicate that the package contains alcohol. These should meet both origin and recipient states’ regulations, guidelines, and standards.
  • You should put your cargo in a package that is sturdy enough and acceptable to the courier.
  • The recipient should be of the legal drinking age in the destination country.

Some couriers will only ship alcohol from a licensed shipper to a recipient who is also a licensee under the destination country’s laws. While some will only send wine direct-to-consumer, meaning they won’t ship beer, hard liquor, or other alcoholic beverages. But most couriers will require that your shipment meets all the legal requirements in the sending and receiving countries.

  1. Get Your License

Only those who can sell can ship alcohol from the US to other countries. Shipping alcohol to other countries or territories is complex and challenging. You have to get all the needed licenses and permits from the city, state, and federal authorities. You should also be familiar with the import-export laws of both the sending and receiving countries.

Being licensed means you should obtain the permits required by your state and city to be allowed to sell alcohol. Even if you made the sale or purchase through your online storefront or e-commerce website, you’d still have to show the required licenses before the courier accepts your shipment for international shipping.

  1. You Can’t Send Them Through Mail

If you’re thinking of sending a bottle of wine through the mail, you’d be in for a bit of disappointment. You can’t send alcohol through the mail, whether you’re sending state-to-state or overseas. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) officially mandates that they don’t ship alcoholic beverages of any kind to domestic or international destinations.

As a workaround, some enterprising distribution companies have partnered with local liquor stores to deliver on-demand alcohol, which they sell through digital apps.

Beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages are restricted substances that the USPS won’t accept for shipment anywhere. The only products with an alcohol content that USPS would allow you to ship are cooking wine, mouthwash, and medicine to remedy the common cold as they haveinnocuous alcohol content.

Can You Ship Alcohol From The US? 4 Things To Know
Morgantown, WV – 19 May 2020: Senior man looking at wine bottle from Matt Parish out of box delivered from Naked Wines
  1. Package Your Shipment Properly

Different couriers have their specific standards of what they deem to be proper and acceptable packaging. Most would requireplacing your shipment in sturdy packaging to prevent bottle shock or glass breakage, which might still happen even if they’re careful with the handling. They also want to control your wine package from oxidizing when transported over long-haul flights.

To give you more information, here are some standard packaging requirements:

  • Use corrugated cardboard for your outside packaging.
  • Inside the cardboard, use moulded polystyrene foam to prevent the glass bottles from banging against each other, mitigatetemperature changes, and prevent potential spilling.
  • Put a label on top of your package so that cargo forwarding workers know which side is up. You can also use directional arrows, but some workers may not use them correctly.
  • Use strong packaging tape to seal your package.
  1. Know The Return Policy

Most couriers have a return policy for shipments. The return policy is triggered when:

  • The courier can’t complete theload;
  • The recipient can’t receive it;
  • The recipient couldn’t be found or located;
  • The address is incomplete or wrong; or
  • The family has already moved elsewhere.

Here are some of the salient points of the standard policies on return of shipment:

  • Some couriers would have a policy that only customers enrolled in their alcohol shipping program would be eligible to use their return policy.
  • The shipper should initiate the return process.
  • The goods to be returned should still be in the same original packaging that they came with when the shipper sent it in.
  • The original packaging andlabel should comply with the shipper’s policieson returned goods.
  • Ou should set up a brokerageto facilitate the shipment and transfer.
  • Whenever applicable, the shipper of the original package shall be responsible for paying any duties and taxes incurred in both the original shipment,as well as the return.


The United States has one of the most expansive domestic alcohol industries globally. Because of that, it can also be a good source of alcohol to ship locally and internationally. However, you’d need to know several things when shipping alcohol from the US.

Not only will you have to adhere to local and international laws regarding acceptable forms of identification, but you also have to understand how taxes and tariffs work. Hence, by following the tips mentioned above, you can ensure that your attempt at shipping alcohol from the US will be a successful one.


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