October 28, 2013

Alcohol Transportation to the U.S. (Import)

An importer’s basic permit, obtained from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, or TTB, of the U.S. Treasury Department, is mandatory for any individual or company wanting to start importing wines or distilled spirits that are over 7 percent alcohol by volume. The Federal Alcohol Administration Act, 27 U.S.C. 201 et seq. and 27 CFR Subchapter A, is administered by the TTB.

TTB is authorized to perform a number of functions under this act. For example, it prohibits importers from misleading consumers with false or inaccurate statements about products. The TTB actively fights deception of consumers in this market. Finally, the TTB says that all alcoholic beverages must be labeled with pertinent information so that consumers can adequately judge the quality and identity of products. Importers can find plenty of information concerning issues including labels and basic permits by contacting the National Revenue Center for the TTB at 1-877-882-3277 or by going to the website of the TTB, located at

Only individuals who are legally able to purchase or otherwise acquire bulk distilled spirits can take imported bulk containers of distilled spirits from the custody of Customers and Border Protection. Each shipment of bottled or bulk distilled liquor or spirits must be accompanied by an invoice or bill of lading with certain data. Required information includes the consignee’s name, a description of the shipment’s contents and the quantity contained in the shipment. No alcoholic drinks will be released by Customs and Border Protection to states in which the consumption of those beverages would violate their laws.

Metric Standards

Since the passage of the Metric Conversion Act of 1975, the United States has used the metric system of measurement. Generally speaking, wine that is imported to the United States must meet metric standards of fill if it has been packed or bottled on or after the date of January 1, 1979. In most cases, imported distilled beverages must meet the metric standards of fill if they have been packed or bottled on or after the date of January 1, 1980. Wines or distilled beverages that were packed or bottled before their respective dates must have a signed document that verifies this from the exporting country’s authorized officials. This can be placed on the invoice or included as a separate document during alcohol transport. Metric standards of fill do not apply to beer and other malt beverages and wine of less than 7 percent alcohol by volume.

Excise Tax

The Internal Revenue Code of 1986, 26 U.S.C. Chapter 51, states that all alcoholic beverages with a minimum of 0.5 percent alcohol by volume must be sold with an excise tax. Whether destined for drinking or industrial purposes, alcoholic products over this limit must carry the tax. In addition, fuel alcohol and other imported denatured alcohol must carry the excise tax except for cases where alcohol transportation is direct from custody of Customs and Border Protection to the bonded premises of a plant registered to handle distilled spirits. When alcohol transport involves fuel alcohol, the plant must be registered to handle alcohol fuel. Alcohol transportation involving bulk imported beer, wine and distilled spirits can be handled in-bond between custody of Customs and Border Protection to the bonded premises of a brewery, winery or distilled spirits plant without the requirement of paying the excise tax.

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NICHOLAS TEKLU  /  October 29, 2013 at 1:27pm  /  Reply

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