Shipping alcohol (wine, liquor, beer, etc.) across the USA
The rules surrounding shipping alcohol date back to 1933 and the repeal of the 21st Amendment. With the end of the prohibition era, states were given full control over liquor laws within their borders, executed through a three-tier system of regulations.
The result? Shipping wine, beer or liquor across state lines is incredibly complex, and there are different types of laws in each state regarding different types of alcohol.
Some states don’t allow any direct-to-consumer alcohol shipping. Others won’t allow shipments outside state borders. And even if you do have permission to send alcohol to a state, there are regulations on how it can be transported, where it can be driven, and even who can drive it.
Here are a few examples of laws that apply to shipping liquor in the United States:
- In Massachusetts, drivers under 21 aren’t permitted to drive trucks transporting alcohol.
- Trucks freighting alcohol across state lines can’t veer more than 7 miles from federal highways along their route. If they do, the alcohol in the shipment can be impounded!
- Dry counties exist in several states, including Mississippi, Kentucky, and Texas. If a truck is caught with alcohol in a dry county, it’s considered a felony.
- Alaska has a monthly ration law, limiting the amount of alcohol that can be brought into the state each month.
States are also constantly changing their liquor shipping laws, especially as online alcohol purchases have grown into a multimillion-dollar industry. Before choosing a freight partner for liquor shipping, make sure they understand the ins and outs of liquor shipping laws in all the states you’ll be shipping to.
Can You Transport Alcohol Across State Lines?
The answer to this question depends on the state in which you are transporting the alcohol. Some states allow for the transportation of alcohol across state lines, while others do not. It is important to check with the laws of the state in which you will be transporting the alcohol to ensure that you are following all legal requirements.
Some states allow for the transport of a limited amount of alcohol for personal consumption. Others require that all alcohol be purchased from a licensed retailer within the state. And still others prohibit the transport of any alcohol across state lines.
It is important to note that even if a state allows for the transport of alcohol across state lines, there may be restrictions on how much alcohol can be transported. For example, some states limit the amount of alcohol that can be transported to a certain number of bottles or cans.
When transporting alcohol across state lines, it is important to be aware of all state laws and regulations. Failure to do so could result in penalties, including fines and jail time.
How Much Does Alcohol Shipping Cost
With so many complicated laws, it shouldn’t surprise you to know that shipping alcohol across state lines can be very expensive. In addition to normal LTL or truckload fees, many freight companies will have additional charges that apply to shipping beer, wine, or liquor.
This helps cover the extra time and expense associated with ensuring proper licensing across one or more states, or longer or non-standard routes that might be required in order to avoid “dry” counties, and special packing concerns to keep your shipment safe in transit.
Before choosing a freight shipping company that offers alcohol shipping service, be sure to ask about their prices for alcohol freights specifically. Though most will have an extra fee, there are a few companies that ship alcohol for the same price as other goods (per pound), so make sure you’re getting the best price option you can.
Because wineries are concentrated in certain parts of the U.S., like California, New York, and Pennsylvania, laws for shipping wine across state lines are a bit more lenient than other types of alcohol.
Most states allow shipping from retailers and wineries to distributors, and several also allow direct-to-consumer shipping, which has given rise to many “wine of the month” subscription services.
Once you make sure you are covered legally, you’ll want to ensure the safety of your wine shipments during interstate shipping. Wine bottles are generally made of glass, which is more fragile than an aluminum beer can.
There are several ways to package wine bottles to keep them safe. You can use molded polystyrene (Styrofoam) that surrounds each bottle. You could also choose to protect your bottles with corrugated or pulp dividers. And of course, you can always rely on plenty of bubble wrap, paired with packing peanuts.
Additional considerations when shipping wine include:
- Temperature: Wine should be shipped at temperatures between 55-65 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent corks from drying out, which can lead to accelerated oxidation.
- Humidity: Similarly, corks are best when kept in an environment with 70% humidity. If the air in your freight truck is too dry, the corks can dry out.
- Light: Wine bottles should be kept away from light, which can accelerate oxidation of the vintage.
- Vibrations: You can’t eliminate all vibrations while trucking wine across state lines, but your shipping partner should try to minimize vibrations, which can damage fragile wine bottles and disturb the sediment in the wine. Pallets and crates carrying wine should contain cushioning to help absorb vibrations, and should be placed near the center of the freight to minimize disturbances.
Because breweries exist in all 50 states, beer shipping laws by state are more varied than the rules surrounding wine. While some states do allow shipments from out-of-state, others only allow intrastate beer shipping from breweries within state borders.
Still others have rules against their own breweries shipping out-of-state, but will allow shipments to come into the state from other parts of the country. States including Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Oregon will let breweries ship beer directly to consumers, while only 10 states in the US allow retailers to ship beer to straight consumers.
When you choose a freight partner for your full freight or LTL beer shipments, they will be able to help guide you through the process of shipping beer across state lines. As with wine, if you’re shipping beer bottles, not cans, you’ll want to be extra careful to avoid damage.
The freight company for shipping beer you work with will likely also recommend you purchase freight insurance, which can save you time and money in the case of damaged goods and lost products or revenue.
Liquor Shipping Service
Did you think it couldn’t get more complicated? We’re sorry to say that shipping liquor across state lines comes with even more confusion and gray areas than transporting beer or wine.
While 44 states do allow alcohol producers to ship directly to consumers, most of these laws are written to address out-of-state wineries and craft brewers. When shipping liquor, many producers are still sticking with a “don’t ask, don’t tell approach,” which is, for the most part, successful in the liquor industry.
Luckily, some states are starting to have better laws about how to ship a bottle of liquor, so it’s probable that as online liquor purchases continue to grow, the legal aspect of shipping liquor will become more clear. Whether you are shipping wine, beer, or other alcoholic products, you should also make sure your crates and pallets can handle heavy loads.
Always use high-quality packing tape to secure boxes, and look at regulations for freighting kegs, versus cases or pallets. For example, kegs are subject to load shifts, which can be dangerous if the kegs aren’t properly secured. So, they are required to be both shrink-wrapped and tied to pallets for safe transportation.
Shipping Other Alcoholic Beverages
Whether you’re shipping craft beer, wine, liquor, or alcoholic beverages like hard lemonade, hard cider, or margaritas in a can, alcohol shipping is a highly regulated procedure that you need to be careful with.
If you don’t take into account laws in ALL the states you ship to and from, you can easily run into fines, have your freights impounded, or even face felony charges. That’s why it’s important to choose a freight company you can trust to help you navigate shipping alcohol across state lines.
Get Alcohol Shipping Quote
At Freight Run, we have a huge network of truckload and LTL freight carriers, who offer both dry and temperature-controlled trucks for transporting goods. The expert brokers at FreightRun can help you find the best freight companies in your area, and help you plan shipping routes between 3rd party freights for long-distance shipping. If you want to learn more about using freights to ship your alcoholic products, give us a call today.