How To Ship Alcohol Nationwide: Step By Step Guide For Beginners

How To Ship Alcohol Nationwide: Step By Step Guide For Beginners

The shipping of alcohol is more challenging than it sounds. There are many factors to consider before placing an order with a company for your next party, wedding, or other event where you must purchase wine and beer. You want to ensure that the company has experience in shipping different types of alcohol, that they know what is required by law when it comes to the packaging of alcoholic beverages, and that they can get your order out promptly without any damage occurring during transit.

If you're on the fence about who you should use for shipping alcohol, then read below! Here's all you need to know about the legalities and methods of shipping alcoholic beverages via UPS, FedEx, or USPS.

Can I Ship Alcohol?

The answer to this question ultimately depends on the type of alcohol and the state you are shipping from. Generally, wine and beer can be shipped legally in most states, with certain restrictions such as age verification. However, hard liquor is often not allowed to be shipped due to its higher alcohol content and additional laws around it. You must check your local regulations before attempting to ship any alcoholic beverage.

Shipping Alcohol Requirements

When it comes to shipping alcohol, there are a few requirements that companies must adhere to in order to stay compliant with state and federal laws. This includes obtaining an Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) license and special labels for shipments over 48 ounces or more. Additionally, all shipments must be labeled with "Alcoholic Beverages," and the sender and recipient must both be of legal drinking age.

Understand the Rules and Regulations for Shipping Alcohol


License Requirement: The sender must have an Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) license issued by the state. It's important to note that not all types of alcohol can be shipped, and the laws vary by state.


‍Age Verification: The sender and recipient must be of legal drinking age, typically 21 years old in the United States. Proof of age may be required upon delivery.


Labeling: Packages containing alcoholic beverages must be clearly labeled with "Alcoholic Beverages." Some states also require a particular label for shipments over 48 ounces.


Packaging: Alcohol must be adequately packaged to prevent leakage or breakage during transit. This often includes using sturdy boxes, packing material, and sealable bags.


Shipping Carrier Restrictions: Different carriers have different rules. For instance, USPS generally does not allow alcohol shipping, while FedEx and UPS do with certain restrictions.


Destination Considerations: Some states have laws restricting the import of alcohol. Therefore, it's necessary to verify that your recipient's state allows the delivery of alcohol.


Insurance: For added protection, consider insuring your shipment. This can help cover costs in case of damage or loss during transit.


Remember, before you ship alcohol, always check with your carrier and verify the specific state's regulations to ensure you're fully compliant.

Choosing the Right Packaging for Safe Alcohol Shipping

Choosing the right packaging for shipping alcohol is crucial to ensure it reaches the recipient undamaged. Here are several tips to consider:


Strong Outer Box

‍Always opt for a strong, corrugated cardboard box to hold your alcohol. It must be new or like-new, with no tears, rips, or corner damage, and seams intact. The package should also be large enough to contain the alcohol and the necessary padding but snug enough to prevent the contents from moving around.


Inner Packaging

‍Consider using specially designed alcohol shipping boxes with Styrofoam inserts. These inserts help keep individual bottles separate from one another to minimize the risk of damage. If you can't access these, use ample amounts of bubble wrap. Each bottle should be individually wrapped with at least two layers of bubble wrap.


Sealable Plastic Bags

‍Place each wrapped bottle into a sealable plastic bag. This step is essential to prevent any spilled alcohol from leaking out of the package if a bottle happens to break in transit.


Cushioning Materials

‍Fill any remaining space in your box with cushioning materials like packing peanuts or crumpled newspaper. This will ensure your bottles remain stationary during the shipping process.



‍Use robust and pressure-sensitive packing tape to seal your package. Don't use masking tape, cellophane tape, or duct tape. Make sure all flaps and seams are securely closed.



‍Label the package following the carrier's guidelines and legal requirements. This often includes a label indicating that the package contains alcohol.


Understand the Different Types of Liquors and their Special Requirements when Shipping

When shipping alcoholic beverages, it's crucial to understand the unique characteristics and fragile nature of each type of liquor. 


Beer, with its light carbonation and delicate flavors, requires careful handling. Consider the beer's packaging - cans are safer to ship due to their lower risk of breaking, while bottles need extensive padding. Temperature also plays a critical role in preserving the beer's flavor profile during transit. Aim to ship beer in cooler temperatures and avoid lengthy transits whenever possible.


Wine, especially red wine, is sensitive to temperature fluctuations which can negatively impact flavor. Shipping wine during extreme weather conditions, either hot or cold, should be avoided. Always use specialized wine shipping boxes with inserts that provide individual spaces for each bottle to mitigate the risk of breakage.


Spirits such as whiskey, vodka, and rum generally have a higher alcohol content than beer or wine, which makes them subject to additional shipping regulations in some locations. Moreover, they're highly flammable and require careful packaging due to their high proof. Consider using ample padding around each bottle and placing them into sealable bags to prevent potential leaks.


Liqueurs are typically lower in alcohol content than spirits but often have added sugars and flavors. The high sugar content can make them sticky and potentially more damaging if a spill or breakage occurs during shipping. Extra care should be taken to secure the caps and tops of liqueurs, potentially using parafilm or tape, and they should be individually bagged and well-cushioned in the shipping box.

Labeling and Documenting Your Shipment as Required by Law

The legal requirements for labeling your alcohol shipment vary depending on your location, the destination, and the shipping carrier, but here are some general steps to follow:


Identify the Package Contents: Mark the package as "Alcoholic Beverages." This is usually done with a sticker or label affixed to the outside of the package.


Apply Special Labels for Large Shipments: If your shipment exceeds 48 ounces, some states require a particular label indicating the shipment size.


Include Required Documentation: Certain carriers and states require specific documentation to accompany shipments containing alcohol. This might include copies of your ABC license, an invoice detailing the contents of the package, or a signed statement from the recipient verifying their age.


Signal Adult Signature Requirement: Mark the package to show that an adult signature is required upon delivery. This is to confirm that the recipient is of legal drinking age, typically 21 or older, in the United States. This is usually done with a specific sticker provided by the carrier.


Mark Fragile Items: Lastly, consider using "fragile" or "handle with care" labels to indicate that the package contains glass and needs to be handled carefully.

Choose the Right Carrier for Shipping Alcohol

Shipping Alcohol: UPS

Under some conditions, UPS authorizes the shipment of alcoholic beverages. However, you cannot ship alcohol with UPS as an individual or a non-commercial business.

UPS Wine Shipping

UPS transports wine only from licensed wine merchants, makers, or distributors who have signed a UPS wine shipment agreement. And, if necessary, a wine shipper's license from the destination country.

The shipment may be from one legal wine retailer or manufacturer to some other licensed wine retailer or manufacturer based on the destination state's laws. It might also come straight from a licensed wine retailer, maker, or another permitted DTC food business to a consumer.

If you transport wine by UPS, consider proper wine storage and temperature during shipment.


RelatedHow to Get Free Shipping Supplies from USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL


Is It Possible To Ship Alcohol By UPS?

UPS only handles spirits shipments from licensed alcohol merchants, distributors, or producers, as with wine. These shipments may be: Depending on the legislation of the destination state, these shipments may be:

From license to license, UPS will transport alcoholic beverages from one permitted organization to another. Consumers will need help to receive these shipments.

Consumers are contacted directly. The direct delivery of spirits to customers by a company permitted to sell, distribute, or make spirits. The buyer is named the consignee.

- Shipments from distilleries across state lines. Shipments from out-of-state distilleries to end-users.

- Shipments between distilleries within the same state. Direct shipments from in-state distilleries to consumers.

Some countries permit only some of the options listed above. Before trying any alcohol shipments, you must first verify with local laws. In addition, you must get any necessary shipper's licenses from the destination location.


Related Post: A Detailed Guide on UPS Next Day Air Saver

UPS Beer Shipping

UPS will only deliver beer from shippers with valid store or brewery certifications in their respective states. In addition, have a license or shipper's permission in the destination state, if appropriate.

UPS Penalty For Shipping Alcohol

You may face penalties if you attempt to circumvent UPS laws by shipping alcohol through the mail.

UPS is a certified alcohol carrier. This means that sending alcohol via UPS is not unlawful. If you are not licensed to sell or ship alcohol, UPS may punish you and seize your package. However, it is doubtful that there will be any legal consequences.

FedEx Shipping Alcohol

FedEx only delivers from FedEx-approved authorized alcohol shippers. Private consumers who do not have a FedEx Alcohol Shipping Agreement cannot transport any form of alcohol by FedEx.

Is It Possible To Ship Alcohol With FedEx?

If you have a FedEx Alcohol Shipping Contract, you can. You must be a corporate body with the necessary alcohol licenses in your native state to participate in that arrangement. You can only send alcohol via FedEx if you have a permit.

FedEx transports alcohol in four ways if you are a business organization with an alcohol license in your state:

- Within the United States, licensee-to-licensee.

- Within the United States, licensee-to-consumer

- International licensee-to-licensee

- International licensee-to-consumer

Do you notice a recurring theme? They all begin with the word licensee: no liquor license, no FedEx shipping.

It should be noted that all foreign alcohol shipments can only be sent via Express. Overseas ground transportation is not a possibility. At the very least, your stream inventory will be manageable for a short time.


Related: What is FedEx Ground Economy (FedEx SmartPost) For Businesses?


FedEx Penalty For Shipping Alcohol

FedEx, like UPS, is legally permitted to ship alcoholic beverages. Attempting to ship alcohol via FedEx is not unlawful in and of itself. FedEx's internal policy states that they will only send with licensed organizations. That implies you'll be violating FedEx's terms of service rather than federal or state law. As a result, you may face a fine, and your shipment will likely be confiscated.

Shipping Alcohol USPS

Trying to ship alcohol via USPS is entirely different than using UPS or FedEx.

Can I Ship Alcoholic Beverages Via USPS?

No way. Someone else can mail alcohol by USPS. It's against the law. It makes no difference if you have a liquor license or are a fully established liquor wholesaler. There is no way to mail alcohol by USPS.

USPS Penalty For Shipping Alcohol

You're breaking US law when you try to get around USPS regulations. That is the main distinction between penalties for USPS and UPS/FedEx. The United States Postal Service is not a certified alcohol shipper.

If you try to send alcohol by USPS and are found, you could face serious legal consequences. The USPS is so anti-alcohol that they will even remove non-alcoholic commodities shipped in boxes or containers with liquor branding.

Related: Do You Know About USPS Shipping Cost?

Shipping Alcohol Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to ship alcohol? 

The best way to ship alcohol is through a certified shipper like UPS, FedEx, or DHL. These companies have the necessary licenses and permits to transport alcoholic beverages legally. Be sure to check with local laws before embarking on any shipments of alcohol by these companies.

How do I ship alcohol to multiple states? 

To ship alcohol to multiple states, you must have state-level permits and licenses for each destination state. You also need to consider proper wine storage during transport and temperature requirements when shipping glass products. Additionally, it is essential to research the specific regulations of each state you are shipping to ensure compliance with local laws. 


Are there any special requirements for shipping alcohol internationally? 

Yes, when shipping alcohol internationally, there are a variety of special considerations to take into account. Additional permits or paperwork may be required depending on the destination country and its regulations. Furthermore, you must include an invoice clearly stating the recipient's name and address and itemized details such as the quantity, description, and value of the items being shipped. Finally, checking with the destination country's customs agency is essential to determine what taxes or duties may be due upon arrival. 

Is it legal to ship alcohol? 

It is legal to ship alcohol in the United States, but it must be done by all local regulations and the company's policies. Additionally, additional permits or paperwork may be required before shipping depending on the destination state and country. It is essential to ensure compliance with all relevant laws before attempting any shipments of alcohol. 

What are the consequences of shipping alcohol illegally? 

The consequences of shipping alcohol illegally vary depending on the company involved and the laws of the destination state or country. Generally, if a package contains alcohol without proper documentation and licensing, it will most likely be confiscated and destroyed. Additionally, if attempting to ship alcohol through USPS, there may be legal repercussions since they do not allow for any shipments of alcohol. Depending on the situation, trying to send alcohol illegally may result in fines and imprisonment. It is vital to ensure compliance with all relevant laws prior to attempting any shipments of alcohol. 

What are some tips for shipping alcohol? 

When shipping alcohol, it is essential to ensure that all necessary permits and licenses are in place. Additionally, extra care must be taken when packaging and labeling shipments, as federal regulations dictate specific requirements for transporting alcoholic beverages. Furthermore, consider using a certified shipper like UPS or FedEx to guarantee safe delivery. Finally, research all applicable laws before attempting any shipments of alcohol to avoid potential fines or legal repercussions. 


Who can I ship alcohol to? 

In the United States, it is legal to ship alcohol to individuals 21 years of age or older. However, in many states, there are additional restrictions, such as prohibiting shipments to specific locations and requiring licenses from both the shipper and recipient. Additionally, when shipping internationally, it is essential to research the destination country's regulations before attempting any shipments of alcohol. 

Can I Ship Alcohol To A Friend?

The best approach to shipping alcohol to a pal is to be aware of any alcohol-related shipping regulations in both the state of origin and destination. Then you may decide which shipperβ€”UPS, FedEx, or USPSβ€”will perform the hard lifting for you.



Shipping alcohol is a complex process that requires adherence to local and federal regulations and the companies policies. It is essential to ensure compliance with all relevant laws before attempting any shipments of alcohol, mainly when shipping across state or international lines. Additionally, it is wise to research options like certified shippers like UPS or FedEx to guarantee safe delivery. Failure to follow all relevant laws may result in severe consequences, and attempting to ship alcohol through USPS is strictly prohibited. Taking the necessary steps beforehand makes it possible to send alcohol safely and legally. 

If this seems too much work (and we don't blame you), contact us at simpl fulfillment today! Our team will be happy to help pick up orders from distributors and package them according to federal regulations, so there's no risk involved on our behalf. See our process works here.

Recommended: Difference between FedEx, UPS, and USPS

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