eCommerce Tips & Trends

The Tipsy Guide to Wine Shipping

Looking to ship wine? Here's everything you need to know so you can have a hassle-free shipping experience.
The Tipsy Guide to Wine Shipping
Alexandra Ortolani

By Alexandra Ortolani


October 12, 2021

Thanks to the Prohibition, shipping your favorite Pinot Noir isn’t legal for most of us. Alcohol was prohibited under the 18th Amendment from 1920 until 1933, only to be re-legalized by the 21st Amendment. It then fell to states to make their own rules for the production, distribution, and yes – shipment – of alcohol.

Today, it’s illegal for a private citizen to ship wine in the US. You can only ship wine if you’re a business licensed to do so. Shipping wine is also dependent on state or country-specific regulations, meaning you’ll have to pay attention to the many guidelines that surround hooch-filled shipments.

This blog will provide a look at how to prepare wine for shipping, which services and workarounds are best for you.

How to Ship Wine

Table of Contents

How to Ship Wine in Your State

Say you’re looking to ship wine in New York. Unless you’re a licensed business, you’re plumb out of luck. As an authorized wine distributor, though, it’s wise to first lookup the restrictions for shipping wine in the Empire State. For example, the following conditions apply for in-state wine shipping in New York:

  • You must provide proof that you’re over 21 years of age and that the shipment is only for personal use. This condition is because resale is not allowed for wine shipments.
  • A signature is required upon delivery for all wine shipments. This rule means you must ship wine with signature required courier services.
  • New York wineries may ship up to 36 cases (no more than 9 liters per case) per year directly to an in-state resident.

In general, here are some things to consider when shipping wine within your state:

  • Pay attention to how many wine shipments you are shipping to customers. This condition is because some states prohibit the shipment of more than one wine bottle at a time. Some states may also limit the number of wine bottles a person can ship each year.
  • Consider using alcohol eCommerce sites to send a loved one or friend a bottle of wine or even a case of beer. Depending on the location, these sites deliver beer, wine, and other liquor in under an hour.

You’ll also want to make sure you clearly label your box, so there is no confusion as to what the shipment is. Plus, you want to make sure that you complete the required paperwork for your wine shipment.

Not sure where to look up state information for shipping wine? No worries. You can check the National Conference of State Legislatures website to see whether or not you’re in the clear to send wine to any US state, territory, or commonwealth.

How to Ship Wine Out of State

It’s illegal to ship wine in some states but not others, so be sure to consider the laws for both the origin and destination state. Though if you’re looking to ship wine to Alabama or Utah, you’re out of luck. Alabama prohibits the direct shipment of alcohol to consumers, while all alcohol shipments are strictly prohibited in Utah.

While it may be legal to ship from one state, it can be illegal in the receiving state. Only certain states allow the wine to be sent to consumers from out-of-state retailers, including:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • California
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Missouri
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • Virginia
  • Washington DC
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

You still need to pay attention to specific restrictions for shipping wine, even if your state allows direct-to-consumer wine shipping. The Wine Institute provides information on state shipping laws. That way, so you know everything that you need to know before shipping wine to an approved state.

For instance, the website provides information on the following:

  • Required permits
  • Sales tax information
  • Volume limit information
  • Product requirements

Now, you don’t need to worry about whether your shipment can get to your destination without hassle. You can also connect with a reliable shipping platform to make your shipping process even more efficient. Easyship saves users up to 70% off discounted shipping rates on 250+ couriers. That means you can continue shipping wine to your consumers while saving big.

How to Ship Wine Internationally

Shipping wine internationally is more complicated than shipping domestically. This is because you need to be aware of the destination country’s international shipping rules and regulations. You’ll also have to obtain an international shipping license in the destination country.

There are a few things to keep in mind before you start shipping wine internationally, including:

  • Research the export and import rules for alcohol in the destination country, as all countries have different restrictions on shipping alcohol
  • Confirm with the wine retailer or distributor if taxes and duties need to be paid on the wine shipment

If you’re shipping wine overseas, you’ll need to pay attention to customs clearance and the necessary paperwork. This rule is important because you risk your package going amiss if you incorrectly fill out your paperwork yourself.

How to Ship Wine with UPS and FedEx

FedEx or UPS is your best bet for shipping wine.

Unfortunately, USPS prohibits wine shipping 一 both domestically and internationally. However, private shipping companies like FedEx and UPS are at your disposal for wine shipping.

Wine Shipping with FedEx

Only FedEx- licensed alcohol shippers can ship wine. Therefore, you’ll have to complete a FedEx Alcohol Shipping Agreement before you start shipping away. Under the agreement, users must comply with all applicable laws to the destination origin.

For more information, FedEx recommends contacting its customer service for details on the shipping agreement.

The following restrictions apply to shipping wine via FedEx:

  • You must be a FedEx-approved alcohol shipper
  • You can only ship with FedEx Express, FedEx Ground, or FedEx Home Delivery
  • You must comply with the origin and destination countries’ laws and regulations for international wine shipments
  • Every alcohol shipment in the US is required to have a label identifying the alcohol shipment
  • You must require an adult signature at delivery

As long as you follow the above requirements, you can ship wine with FedEx.

Wine Shipping with UPS

UPS only provides wine shipping services for those approved and licensed to ship wine. Plus, you need to complete a UPS Agreement for Approved Wine Shippers.

The following requirements apply for all UPS wine shipments:

  • Sign an alcohol shipment contract, known as the UPS Agreement for Approved Wine Shippers
  • You must be licensed and authorized to ship wine per state and federal laws
  • Label the package, so it’s clear that it contains wine
  • Complete the proper documentation with the correct shipping labels
  • Provide proper identification that shows you are 21 years of age or older

How to Package Wine for Shipping

You’ll want to use special, protective packaging so your wine shipment won’t break or get damaged in transit. Most major couriers require the following packaging for wine shipping:

  • Individual box for wine
  • Protective foam pads
  • Bubble wrap or packing peanuts
  • Plastic sheets (otherwise known as polystyrene sheets)

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to package wine for shipping.

Step 1. Wrap wine bottles individually

You can wrap individual wine bottles with materials like bubble wrap, cartons, tissue, or any other protective material. This rule will ensure the integrity of each wine bottle and mitigate the risk of breakage.

Step 2. Put bottles in a smaller box

Place the wine bottles in a smaller box and separate them with cardboard dividers. Use other cushioning to fill up any space and limit movement in transit to guard against damage

Step 3. Seal the smaller box

Now, you’ll want to place the smaller box with the wine bottles into a larger box. Then, fill in any space with cushioning materials and seal the larger box with tape.

Step 4. Attach plastic sheets to the outside of the larger cardboard box

Place polystyrene sheets, otherwise known as plastic sheets, on the outside of the larger cardboard box. This acts as a shock absorber and further ensures the shipment’s safety.

Step 5. Put larger cardboard box into a third box

Finally, put the larger cardboard box into a third cardboard box and fill any empty spaces again. Then, place polystyrene sheets before sealing the lid shut with tape.

Make sure to label your package with “handle with care” or “fragile” on the top and sides of the wine shipment.

How Easyship Can Help

Wine shipping can be tricky. As we’ve mentioned, there are licenses to obtain, rules and regulations to follow, and shipping documents to be completed 一 all while trying to save money.

Using a shipping platform like Easyship can make the process hassle-free. Our automated label generator fill-outs all the necessary information for shipping documents like packing slips, commercial invoices, and more 一 just print what you need.

Plus, users save up to 70% off discounted shipping rates on 250+ courier solutions. Sounds good to you? Sign up for free today and get started with wine shipping.

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