Alcohol can easily be bought online, but mailing or shipping alcohol is no easy feat. Whether shipping within a state or across state lines or internationally, there are a few rules and regulations to be aware of before loading up on bottles to send home to friends. There is typically no best method because the easiest option can vary widely depending on your individual needs. If you're buying alcohol or liquor from a licensed vendor and shipping home to yourself, you are likely fine. Shipping alcohol to others, however, is trickier. With these quick guidelines, understanding the process will be a snap.
Can You Mail Alcohol?
While there are restrictions for sending bottles of alcohol within the same state, there are even stricter rules to follow when shipping liquor across state lines. In many states, laws dictate that only a certain number of bottles can be sent to a single customer or person each year. Depending on the state, a license could be required to send more than one bottle of wine.
To ensure that shipping alcohol is legal in the quantities you need, check the laws and regulations of the state to which you want to ship one or more bottles of wine, beer or liquor. For example, Alabama and Utah do not allow any alcohol to be directly imported. Other states like Delaware only allow direct shipments that come from a licensed wholesaler or through online purchases.
Note that USPS shipping restrictions do not allow the mailing of any alcohol. FedEx and UPS allow alcohol to be shipped if their strict guidelines are followed. These include proper packaging, correct shipping labels, a license and documentation that often involves a written contract with the courier.
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Order Alcohol Online
Ordering alcohol online for yourself or others is the easiest way to purchase and ship alcohol to your home or to the home of the recipient if you're buying on behalf of others. Online retailers are properly licensed and have intimate knowledge of the best shipping practices for all the destinations to which they ship. Buying liquor online also allows for a much broader array of options. Ordering alcohol online shifts the burden of shipping alcohol from the customer to the producer. Whether you're buying liquor or other types of alcohol, ordering online enables you to ship gifts to friends and family, rather than having to ship it yourself.
Packing Bottles of Alcohol
Some countries make importing or exporting alcohol difficult. The European Union often includes bureaucratic policies that slow the process of shipping alcohol, and some Islamic countries do not admit any alcoholic products at all. To hasten the arrival of alcohol from a trip abroad, simply pack it in your suitcase. This is not illegal, though the bottles should be declared at customs. If you're bringing a bottle back to send to a friend, it can be shipped from within the United States with the proper precautions.
To package the alcohol in your suitcase, place the glass bottle in a self-sealing bag like a zip-close bag, a small dry bag or a bag specifically designed for packing glass bottles. Two plastic bags wrapped tightly around the bottle will also work, but are not spillproof should the bottle break. Pack the bottles in the center of the suitcase, securely padded by wrapping in soft, thick layers using a sweater or several T-shirts.
Keep in mind that smaller bottles work better than larger bottles when packing alcohol in a suitcase. Remember to place hard or structured items, like shoes, away from the bottle to prevent cracks if the items shift during air travel. Some retailers sell supplies for packing bottles specifically for air travel, such as cardboard boxes with shock-absorbing inserts and bubble wrap.
Molly is a freelance journalist and social media consultant. In addition to Leaf.tv, Molly has written for Teen Vogue and Paste magazine. She is the former assistant editor of the Design and Style section of Paste magazine. View her work at www.mmollyharris.com.