August 28, 2014

Wine Shipping Laws for Consumers

Although the federal government’s short lived prohibition experiment was eventually repealed, this country’s long and complicated relationship with alcohol affects consumers, retailers and especially distributors still to this day. Haulers will find a tangle of laws that differ from state to state, and even city to city, regulating the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages. Companies such as Kan-Haul, who ship wine & bulk wine throughout the U.S., have to be especially aware of these complex laws.

For consumers, they are left wondering over why they cannot send a holiday bottle of wine to their uncle in Florida or why they cannot get their hands on the wine that they enjoyed on their last visit to Sonoma. In fact, they may be committing a crime if they try to do so.

Nearly half of U.S. states still forbid any individual to send wine from out of state directly to a person’s home. Package carriers, retailers and even wineries can face felony charges for simply breaking Alcohol Beverage Control Laws. The following are some examples of these control laws.

Limited Laws

The District of Columbia along with 14 states allows people to bring in wine coming from out-of state under certain conditions. They typically mandate the seller to obtain a special shipping permit or register with the state. These states also restrict the amount of wine that residents can bring in every year and require the consumer or the winery to report the transactions or pay taxes.

Some of these states actually give people more freedom than reciprocal states do while a number of them allow only wine shipments purchased on the premises of a winery and personal transportation. However, other states under place such substantial requirement on the shipping companies, buyers and sellers that it is impractical to ship there. Similar to reciprocal states, packages should be labeled as alcohol and should be signed for by an adult.

Reciprocal Laws

About 13 states including the major wine producing states of Washington, Oregon and California have reciprocal shipping laws in place. Consumers can have wine sent to their address straight from wineries as long as the seller’s home state allows companies that are out-of-state to ship wine to its residents.

For instance, a person who resides in Illinois can order wine directly from Oregon because both states allow reciprocal shipping. However, they cannot order from New York wineries because this state has no such law on the books. Any purchase is considered to happen in the home state of the seller and is taxed there. These laws are not a green light for unlimited shipping. A number of states implement limits on the quantity of cases that a person can have delivered or what kind of orders are allowed.

Additionally, these laws safeguard against wine falling into the hands of a minor. The package should be labeled as containing an alcoholic beverage. The carrier should also check identification to make sure that an adult is receiving the delivery.

Prohibited Laws

There are 23 states that ban producers from shipping wine directly to the homes of consumers. However, there are six states that make it a felony for either retailers or wineries to ship in violation of the law.

• Utah

• Tennessee

• Maryland

• Indiana

• Kentucky

• Florida

If people live in one of these six states, wineries will not risk shipping to them. This is because, if they are convicted with a felony, they will lose their federal permit to produce wine. Fortunately, the situation is not that bad everywhere. If a person has visited out-of-state wineries, a number of these states allow them to ship the wine back to themselves or carry home two bottles in their car or suitcase.

Some states have also created special request systems to allow residents to purchase wines that are not distributed in the state. Once the order is placed, the wine should be sent through a retailer or wholesaler for pickup where people will be charged additional handling fees and state taxes.

Federal On-Site

In 2002, due to the new restrictions that airlines have implemented on carrying wine on board, a law was passed that allows a visitor to ship wine back home to themselves as long as their state of residence allows them to carry purchases that have been made personally across state lines.

Out of the U.S. states that prohibit direct interstate shipments, only 11 allow personal transportation and therefore shipments that are on-site. These states include Maine, Delaware, Florida, Connecticut, Montana, Michigan, Oklahoma, New Jersey, Vermont, South Dakota and Tennessee.

The Bottom Line

All in all, the state where a person lives has a huge effect in determining if they can ship wine to their homes. Because of this, it is important for them to determine what type of laws their state implements regarding the transport of these alcoholic beverages.

Kan-Haul has years of experience in handling wine shipping and bulk wine shipping for distributors. Regional shippers can contact Kan-Haul right now and experience the difference right away.

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