Direct-to-consumer (DtC) beer shipping laws require abiding by the rules of the destination state. While those rules can be similar from one state to the next, there are always key differences between them that producers and other shippers should know. Two states can each allow DtC beer shipping but may have varying requirements and limitations when it comes to licensing, product restrictions or dry communities.
For example, Alaska allows DtC beer shipping but there are currently 78 dry cities and counties where the sale of alcohol is prohibited. A producer could ship beer into Alaska, but not to a customer who resides in one of those dry communities. Other states that allow DtC shipping of beer, though, have no dry areas, leaving the entire state open for sales.
We have outlined the basics of DtC beer shipping and key rules that shippers must adhere to in order to stay compliant.
Where can beer producers ship?
Currently, 12 states and the District of Columbia allow DtC beer shipping:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
It’s also universally required that any packages being shipped have a label clearly identifying that the box contains alcohol and that a signature of a person aged 21 years or older is required for delivery.
How does DtC beer shipping work?
Under the principles of the 2005 Supreme Court decision Granholm v. Heald, any state that permits DtC shipping of alcohol by local suppliers must also extend that privilege to out-of-state suppliers. While Granholm specifically dealt with wineries, the same principles apply to the beer market. After Granholm, states developed a framework of rules under which they would enable out-of-state parties to make DtC shipments of alcohol. Generally, these rules require shippers to:
- Be licensed by the destination state
- Use approved carriers who will check IDs and collect signatures
- Verify age of purchaser and recipient
- Label boxes with notice of alcohol contents
- Abide by per person volume limits
- Agree to remit all applicable sales and excise taxes to the destination state
- File regular reports detailing all their shipments
- Only ship brand/labels that are produced or owned by the shipper
While this set of rules and regulations are commonly applied, note that they are not always in effect in every state that permits DtC shipping of beer, nor are they always applied with the same level of rigor. When you are looking to ship in a new state, consult with an expert who can properly interpret how the rules apply to your individual circumstances. For example, what is permissible under your brewery license doesn’t affect DtC shipping laws. Those laws are outside of and beyond the scope of your home state beer production/tasting room permissions. Your compliance team, legal counsel or even another brewer could help you determine your next steps in DtC beer shipping.
Learn more about managing your DtC alcohol shipping compliance.