Is there any way to legally ship liquor?

Say I want to send a nice bottle of wine to my Mom, or some of the lovely microbrew I can get in Colorado to a friend in Michigan. I assume that giving someone a gift containing alcohol is legal as long as both parties are over 21. However, I’ve found that most shipping companies will not ship alcohol. Is it actually illegal to ship alcohol as a gift? No money has changed hands. It’s purely a gift.

If it is illegal, what if I bring it to them? IE, I buy a case of beer in CO, drive to MI, and give it away. Is that legal? Or is there some sort of transporting-liquor-across-state-lines law that I don’t know about? What if I’m bringing it for myself, not a gift at all?

My uncle ships his home brew all the time. I’m not sure what shipping companies you’ve tried, however he always packs the bottles carefully and uses UPS.

As long as it is being mailed for personal use, there are very fews laws governing it when money doesn’t change hands.

The laws vary by state. Here’s a listing that might help

Dilbert, I suggest your uncle do a little more research if he wants to keep doing this. Many states prohibit the shipment of spirits into their territory, regardless of whether it’s for commercial purposes or not.


Dilbert just because your uncle does it doesn’t mean it’s legal. I called UPS and asked them about shipping liquor, and they said they can do it within some states, but never between states. That’s why I posted the original question.


And the obvious reply is… don’t tell them what you’re shipping.

Of course, by doing this you might be breaking the law in either your or the recipients state. THIS POST IN NO WAY ENCOURAGES YOU TO BREAK THE LAW. In fact… please don’t.

That being said, most of these laws date back to prohibition and are intended to curb the wholesale transport of large volumes of ethanol (be it whiskey, wine, beer, moonshine, whatever).

It’s usually not worth the DA’s time to prosecute you over a sixpack (usually).

As far as the shipping company is concerned, they don’t want to break the law by shipping alcohol (among other things), which is why they ask you the contents of your package. If you lie to them, well… that generally absolves them of responsibility. Of course, if you present them with a package that looks, feels, and “sloshes” like a couple of beers you should expect to be rejected.

I have an eccentric uncle who usually includes a few cans of Iron City in my “Christmas present”. Nothing like missmatched Odd-Lots close-outs and a few warm brews to set the holiday spirit. (And I love him for it.)

Aren’t there wine dealers on the 'net? They’ll generally ship wherever it’s legal to do so, so it’s not impossible.


Jimbrowski, I didn’t ask HOW to do it, I asked how to LEGALLY do it. I know you can always lie to the shipping company, if you really want to take the risk. I was just wondering if there was any legal way to do the same thing.

Athena, that’s a good question. I was hoping to find out if I can carry a six-pack on the plane with me Friday, and this seemed like the best thread in which to look.


It is not illegal to ship spirits of any kind as a gift. If you are shipping large quantities of spirits that may be deemed ‘intent’ to sell and this may be illegal. But to my knowledge you can ship a bottle of wine, vodka, beer whichever. I routinely ship micro-brew beer from Az to Ct. I always bring it unpackaged to a ‘Mail N’More’ or Mailboxes.ETC. They package it and send it so it won’t break. It is not illegal to do this. Don’t forget its 2001 not mid-prohibition 1920’s…

Just go to a store like I mentioned and they will ship whatever you want. However, then again are you over 21. If not all I said is void and mute. Obviously you have to be over 21 to ship it.

Manservant: I’ve carried cases of wine on planes before, and nobody’s ever given me a problem. I assume it’s legal.

Phlosphr: Hmmm… UPS told me they won’t do it. What shipping methods dooes Mail N’More/Mailboxes.ETC use? I’d rather not go through one of those places, since a case of beer is quite heavy, and my experience is that it’s cheaper by about half just to go directly to the shipper.

I am over 21. That’s not the issue.

Hmmm… just called the USPS. They said “The USPS does not ship intoxicating liquors.” When I asked if that was Federal Law, or just a policy, she reiterated “The USPS does not ship intoxicating liquors.”

I guess they don’t do it.

Now I’m really intrigued. Phlosphr, how do you ship yours?!? UPS and UPSP flat out say “No.” Are you FedExing or some other high priced method?

I go to Mail n More or MailBoxes.ETC. And they box it, and send it via, anyway you want. Usually I choose priority mail, which just goes through regular US mail. You can also fedex it DHL it, but the most common is regular US MAIL. I have never had a problem. Ever. As a matter of fact I just shipped a bottle of Bellvedere Vodka to a friend on the east coast to congragulate her on her promotion. Just take it to a post office or mail store unpacked and send it. Thats all, that easy. no worries

Cliffy, Athena:

I have not done the research. I assume my uncle has. However, as I said, it is my understanding that there are very few laws regarding shipment of gifts. I imagine there are even less governing the shipment of homemade gifts. Obviously, there were never any liquor taxes paid on home brew to any state. In my estimation it would be no different than him shipping the supplies. Yes, I can imagine that companies are subject to much stricter laws regarding this.

The mystery continues…

My local Mailboxes Etc. said “uh-uh, no way. We don’t ship liquor.”

You must live in a wonderful land, Phlosphr!

OK Athena. You must either be shipping a whole lot of beer or you live somewhere in the Amish country [just kidding all amish who may read this, doubtful though, I’m kidding anyway] But seriously , I bet your calling these people and asking stright out “do you ship liquor” in such case maybe they may say no. But I do not know why. I am in AZ right now and I know this is the wild west but come on, I can’t see how it could be that different. Try bringing whatever you have, beer, liquor, whatever, physically down to a mail and more and non-chalantly go up and say “…can you package these so they won’t break?” I bet that will work. If not. I’m terribly sorry. Good luck.

What everyone is missing is the real answer as to why, as an individual you can not ship spirits interstate. TAXES. Each state collects gobs of money in taxes on liquor sold in the state. (The feds take their cut up from from the bottler.) You CAN legally ship spirits from one state into another if the receiptient is a licensed wholesaler who will determine and charge the taxes due for the state.

No prob, Athena, next time you want legal advice why don’t you go ask a lawyer <sneer>???

Instead you’ve chosen to ask us, The Teeming Millions. As such you should graciously accept the reply, acknowledging that, along with the correct answer (hopefully), you are also going to get answers that are not absolutely relevant, on topic, or correct. Please don’t whine because I gave you one of those answers.

Again, you want legal advice? Go ask a lawyer (or a police officer, they can usually quote local laws). You want expertise in certain (occasionally esoteric) fields, accumulated life experiences, and general wisdom? Stick around, we’ve got LOTS of that here.

Manservant, I personally carried a bottle of Jack on an airplane within the past year, from NY to PA (I’m over 21). It was explained to me (by the security agent) that said alcohol must be in it’s original packaging and container (can, bottle, etc.), sealed from the factory (e.g. tax stamp in place, can/bottle has never been opened), and may not be opened, much less consumed, within any airport or on any airplane.

Manservant, may I humbly suggest you contact your local airport security office and ask them prior to flying? “But Jimbrowski said I could!” is of dubious legal quality.

Remember, Athena, that ain’t legal advice.

Sheesh, Jimbrowksi, get up on the wrong side of the bed today? All I did was point out that your post did not really give me the answer I was looking for.

And before ya flame me again, note:

Athena registered May 1999, post count 1842

Jimbrowksi registered June 2001, post count 49

I know how the $#@^#! board works. Next time ya want to <sneer> at me, accuse me of whining, or flame in any other sort of way, take it to the pit, please.

I work at a pack-and-ship store in Kansas, and we don’t handle liquor or beer at all. We can’t package it, even if the customer says it isn’t going to be shipped. We can’t ship it, because the carriers (UPS, FedEx, mail, ect.) won’t take it. However, I think liquor stores are allowed to ship to other liquor stores. Just my $.02

I used to send wine through FedEx a few years ago, but I cannot anymore.

UPS is a bit more lenient and will send stuff to certain states, but not all and only does beer and wine.
Mailboxes uses USPS, UPS and FedEx to actually send stuff, so depending on where you are and where you want to ship stuff, try UPS. As long as it’s legal in the state of reciept, they may do it.