If you intend to ship wine overseas - whether as a gift to a loved one or as a commercial shipment to customers - you should be aware that it’s a little more complicated than sending other types of products. Many carriers have strict rules in place for wine, and you’ll also need to be aware of any municipal, state, or country regulations - especially since some agencies (such as US Customs and Border Protection) don’t consider wine household goods or personal effects. In this article, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about shipping wine across the world.
Can I Ship Wine?
If you’re a wine retailer, you’ve certainly thought about how to send your wine to different places. In many cases, you will be able to send your wine across the world quite easily. But, the key is knowing all the restrictions and regulations so you understand how to navigate them. Here are a few things to know:
- Since all countries have different rules about shipping wine, it’s helpful to brush up on the wine export and import rules of the areas you ship to most frequently.
- In the US, you can’t mail wine (or any alcohol) as a gift through the post office - you have to use commercial carriers like UPS or FedEx.
- You’ll need to make sure your carrier is fully aware that your shipment contains wine (and it should definitely be labeled fragile!)
- You’ll need to fill out paperwork like customs declarations, whether you intend the wine as a gift or as a commercial consignment.
- Check whether there are any additional taxes or duties that you’ll need to pay on the wine shipment - and if the answer is yes, find out how much it’ll cost and how you can make the payment.
Which Couriers Will Accept Wine Shipments?
Many regulations for shipping wines come from the countries you intend to ship to. But, you will also face certain restrictions from whichever carrier you use. To help you navigate this, let’s take a look at three major carriers and how they deal with wine shipments.
The United States Postal Service doesn’t allow wine to be sent through its services, whether it’s a domestic or international shipment. The restriction on alcohol is so thorough that even if you package non-prohibited items in a box that was once used for wine, your package may be denied for shipping.
This particular carrier allows the shipment of alcoholic beverages, but there are very specific requirements that must be fulfilled in order for the shipment to be processed. These include:
- Having an account with UPS
- Signing an alcohol shipment contract
- Being licensed and authorized to ship wine in accordance with state or federal laws
- Not shipping directly to consumers
- Properly packaging wine bottles in molded fiber trays, folded corrugated trays, or molded Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam
- Labeling the package so it’s clear that it contains wine (or any other alcohol)
- Properly documenting the shipment with the appropriate shipping labels (these must be done using a shipping solution compatible with UPS, like Easyship)
- Requiring an adult signature on delivery (the person must be over 21 and present appropriate identification)
This is another carrier that ships wine and other alcoholic beverages; however, it also has very specific requirements that you must meet in order to ship your wine. If you intend to use FedEx to send your wine, here are a few things you should know:
- You need a FedEx account
- You have to sign an alcohol beverage shipping agreement
- The wine shipment must be properly packaged, with the case completely covered in soft, protective materials to prevent breakage
- The shipment should be clearly labeled to show it contains wine (or alcohol)
- An adult signature is required on delivery - the recipient should be over 21 and present identification
How Should I Package Wine for Shipping?
The first step in understanding how to ship wine is learning how to package it properly. It’s essential that you know how to carefully pack your bottles of wine with special, protective packaging so that they won’t break or get damaged in transit. Below are a few things you should know.
5 Things to Think About when Packaging Wine
- How to ensure the bottles remain safe during transit
- The mode of transportation being used at every point
- The rules and regulations of the recipient country
- Any restrictions from the carrier
- The overall presentation of the package
5 Different Types of Packaging Materials
To further ensure the safety of your wine bottles, you need to choose appropriately protective packing materials. The five types of materials you should have handy when you package wine for shipping are:
- Cardboard boxes
- Cardboard cartons
- Wrapping materials
- Adhesive tapes
Steps for Packing Your Wine
Now that you know everything you should about navigating regulations around shipping wine and what you need to think about, here’s a step-by-step guide to packing your wine when you’re ready to start shipping:
- Wrap the bottles of wine individually using bubble wrap, cartons, tissue, or any other protective material that will help the bottle withstand any shocks while in transit.
- Put the bottles into a smaller carton or box, separating them using cardboard dividers or any other cushioning materials - don’t forget to fill up any empty spaces to limit movement!
- Seal the smaller box and carefully place it into a larger box. Fill up any spaces in between the boxes with available cushioning materials - after making sure that the boxes are properly secured, seal the whole thing off with tape.
- Attach polystyrene sheets to the outside of the bigger cardboard box to act as a shock absorber and further protect the wine bottles in transit.
- Put this package into a third sturdy box and fill up any empty spaces - cover the top with more polystyrene before taping the lid shut with a generous amount of sealant.
- Properly label your package with “fragile” or “handle with care” signs on the top and sides of the carton.
What About Customs?
If you’re shipping any type of alcohol - including wine - you will definitely need to deal with customs. Here are a few things to know about navigating this.
Making Customs Declarations for Alcohol
A good rule of thumb is to ensure you have all the proper customs paperwork in place for mailing alcohol, especially if you’re sending a large collection that requires an importation license. A good customs broker should be able to handle all this paperwork on your behalf so that you can worry about other things. Don’t forget that you will need a federal permit if the wine is for commercial or resale purposes.
Taxes and Duties for Shipping Alcohol
Duty rates will be charged on your wine shipment. These are usually based on the alcohol content of each bottle, not the value of the wine itself. Generally, when you ship wine, you can expect to be charged $1-$2/liter of wine. The rates are higher for spirits like vodka and cognac. You can always find any additional information you may need to help you figure out exactly what taxes you’ll need to pay, depending on the destination country.
Grow Your Wine Brand with International Shipping
Shipping wine or other alcoholic beverages internationally can get a bit tricky, but understanding all the requirements for how to ship wine is the key to doing it well. Easyship offers over 250 shipping solutions and can help you navigate tricky shipments with this huge variety of courier options. Sign up for a free Easyship account today and start getting your wine out to different countries!
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