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The Legalities of Beer Shipping - Revisited

Discussion in 'Beer Trading Talk' started by HoldenDurden, Jan 24, 2013.

  1. HoldenDurden

    HoldenDurden Disciple (338) Nov 27, 2011 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    While this topic has been addressed in differing forms throughout the forums, I have yet to read anything that provides a satisfactory answer. Let's say I fly to Chicago and purschase more beer than I want to pack in my luggage. I decide to ship the beer to my home in Colorado. The consensus on the forums seems to be that as a general matter it is "illegal" for me to ship the beer through the USPS, and both UPS and FedEx have "policies" that forbid the practice. If it is illegal, what specific state or federal law prohibits this practice? I find it difficult to believe that the law forbids me to ship beer I own to myself. As to the policies of UPS and FedEx, has anyone ever read these policies? Or is this just word of mouth?

    I ask because I recently did exactly what I described and UPS "disposed" of my entire shipment after something broke in transit. Apparently once the package sprung a leak they opened it and discovered beer giving them the right to trash the entire shipment. No one at UPS could tell me anything more than they do not permit the shipping of beer without a license.

    I lost 12 Zombie Dusts and 4 Dreadnaughts so I was a little pissed, mostly at myself for not packing better. But in my defense, the package made it safely to Colorado and even one attempted delivery to my home. It wasn't until I arranged to pick it up at the UPS facility that they broke something moving the package from one UPS building to another. I love that they disposed of the entire package when maybe one ZD bottle broke.
  2. KevinGordon

    KevinGordon Initiate (0) Dec 16, 2012 North Carolina

    Go to your local wine store. Get a sturdy box with thick dividers that run top to bottom. Pack each bottle in bubble wrap or newspaper. Pack that box tight, any empty slots should be filled with newspaper. Also, you have to patch over, or mark out ANY references to wine or alcohol. USPS will ship beer, but they will only do so via parcel post. This will take slightly longer to ship, because they will not put your beers on an airplane. Their concern is the pressure differences might cause your bottle to rupture
  3. leedorham

    leedorham Crusader (701) Apr 27, 2006 Washington

    As far as legalities go, the chances of you ever facing any legal trouble because you shipped beer in quantities intended for personal consumption are slim to none.

    This is the way it works - pack your shit well, don't tell nobody what's in the box, and cross your fingers. UPS and Fedex clearly state that it's against their policies to ship alcohol so you're pretty much at their mercy.
    brettski66 and creepinjeeper like this.
  4. Stinger80OH

    Stinger80OH Crusader (747) Nov 11, 2011 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    I had the same thing happen from a trade coming from TN, except it was shipped via FedEx. The FedEx staff could only tell me that upon arrival to its facility just a little while from here that its was damaged and unsalvagable, but they disposed of it and did not allow me to make the decision on what is deemed as salvagable. Completely ridiculous. Ultimately, the BA had to purchase and ship all over again.
  5. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,356) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    99 % of the time problems are the result of not packing properly. If you are unwilling to really wrap the fuck out of it so that it could survive a ten foot drop onto concrete, and are unwilling to take the care to wrap the entire shipment in waterproof plastic, then don't ship. I repeat, unwilling to do what is required, Don't Ship! If something happens you won't end up in jail, but when they dump your beer it will be your fault for not doing what it takes to make sure they don't discover it.

    There, you said this hasn't really been covered? This is all you ever need to know.
  6. DruRho

    DruRho Initiate (0) Sep 3, 2012 Maryland

    I see people reference the USPS illegality vs. UPS/FedEx policy argument most often in this argument. But leedorham is correct - not even USPS will start any legal trouble. When I first started shipping beer to friends and family across the country via USPS, I had 3 different packages get damaged, causing a bottle to break inside each one. USPS didn't "dispose" of the box. Instead - they wrapped it in plastic and delivered it with an apology note. The only way I learned of the damage was from the recipients - not USPS. That said, I learned how to pack boxes better and I was never put off by USPS.
  7. Hanzo

    Hanzo Initiate (0) Feb 27, 2012 Virginia

    The problem here is tax money, you are brining booze into your state which isn't seeing a dime from the sale of it, that's why most states don't allow it or limit the amount you can bring in.

    My state (VA) for instance lets you bring one gallon in per person.


    Is any of this enforced? Much like jaywalking, I doubt it.
  8. HoldenDurden

    HoldenDurden Disciple (338) Nov 27, 2011 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    I said the specific identification of the laws prohibiting the practice hasn't really been covered. But thanks for your condescension, it really added nothing to the discourse.

    Hanzo, on the other hand, thank you for a helpful response.
  9. tinypyramids

    tinypyramids Initiate (0) Jul 19, 2012 Illinois

    you'd think that the state would just provide an easy way to just pay the damn taxes on it if you wanted to do it all above board.
    Kyrojack likes this.
  10. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,356) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    No condecension intended, the laws in this country are a milieu of conflicting and contradictory statutes, and what I said is true, if you send something the only safe way is to do it so it doesn't break and cannot leak, and this is what you need to know, how to send, and that you won't end up in jail. Sorry, I didn'gt do a google search (or suggested you do one since you aren't satisfied by practical advice) and quote the laws of every state, and the laws governing the USPS, and the exact terms of service, or that I didn't put a smiley at the end. I gave you the best advice in this thread, I hope you can recove well enough to reread it and see that this is so.
    creepinjeeper, Kyrojack and stucat like this.
  11. HoldenDurden

    HoldenDurden Disciple (338) Nov 27, 2011 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Two ships crossing in the night... I'm not asking for shipping advice. Hence the title of the thread, "The Legalities of Beer Shipping - Revisited." I wanted to tap into the collective knowledge of the BA community on the legality of shipping so that I didn't have to research it myself. Hanzo's response included the kind of information that I hoped to elicit.

    Maybe you need the smiley :slight_smile:
  12. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,356) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    I assumed you didn't want this
    beer laws by state
    or this
    shipping regs
    since in ten seconds you could have gotten the info as easily as I just did. And since this is the Trade Forum it is natural that you would want info to safely send boxes. My bad for assuming, and I apologize.
    Brewzer1010 and youbrewidrink like this.
  13. FEUO

    FEUO Disciple (327) Jul 24, 2012 Ontario (Canada)

    From my recent influx of out of state shipments this is what I have observed.
    UPS and Fedex do not generally care, even about their own policy.
    Example: 3 UPS shipments from "LETSPOUR.com" clearly printed on the shipping label. So its either beer or wine. Not one issue.
    Example 2: Fedex shipment arrived with a sticker FROM Fedex about it containing alcohol and requiring adult signature. Wow. So they definitely know.
    Example 3: An online shop based out of California would NOT ship to me after I had paid as the state of Michigan does not allow for beer to be shipped in unless its coming from someone with an MI license. I had them ship it to Chicago instead.

    In summary, UPS and Fedex generally don't care. Shippers may, depending on state rules.

    Or just follow cavedave's links. :stuck_out_tongue:
    cavedave likes this.
  14. jacksback

    jacksback Initiate (0) Jul 20, 2011 Massachusetts

    Didn't answer the question asked, gave common sense advice that everyone who trades beer knows, and patted yourself on the back. Great stuff. As usual.

    OP- from what I understand, it's technically illegal in many states due to the tax laws hanzo noted and due to interstate commerce laws (which likely tie in with said tax laws). But, your chances of legal trouble are slim to none, given the scope of the "crime" of shipping a box of beers.

    The more salient point is that it's against Fedex/UPS/USPS policies. Hence, they will confiscate/dispose of beer shipments at their whim if they so decide.
  15. Archemedies

    Archemedies Initiate (0) Dec 8, 2011 Massachusetts

    Stop making sense.
    HoldenDurden likes this.
  16. weatherdog

    weatherdog Initiate (0) Nov 7, 2007 Illinois

    Just because UPS and FedEx have legal or permitted ways to ship wine/liquor/beer does not mean that just anyone can ship it. You basically have to have a special license and specifically get approved by either FedEx or UPS for them to accept alcohol packages.

    I legally ship out wine packages nearly every day from my shop. We are permitted to do so, but we still have to follow both UPS rules and each state's specific laws. I'm required to include a "Contains Alcohol" sticker on the package and must specify that the package has to be signed by a sober over 21 person. I also can only ship to certain states, some states that I am legally able to ship to want me to buy a state specific permit and then pay taxes to them. Other states don't allow any type of alcohol to be shipped to them. I make sure to follow these rules as closely as I am able to because if I'm found in violation of them UPS can pull my ability to ship with them, which in turn would harm a sizable portion of my business.

    For personal use, just use discrete boxes, pack it twice as well as you think you need, and for the most part you should be fine.
    creepinjeeper and HoldenDurden like this.
  17. FEUO

    FEUO Disciple (327) Jul 24, 2012 Ontario (Canada)

    Doh, I should have eluded to that as well. Dead on.
    Just like shipping into states with certain laws like MI. In order to ship in the shipper must have a license from the state to do so.
    wingnutter likes this.
  18. HoldenDurden

    HoldenDurden Disciple (338) Nov 27, 2011 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    I didn't post my question in the trade forum, one of the Alström brothers moved it here.

    Apology accepted.
    Auror likes this.
  19. aasher

    aasher Poo-Bah (2,644) Jan 27, 2010 Indiana
    Beer Trader

    To add to this, every state treats packages differently. Certain states are on do not ship lists. The do not ship states are very strict in enforcing their policies.
  20. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,356) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    Haha, guess they read your post and also assumed you wanted to find out how to safely ship packages of beer:slight_smile:
    HoldenDurden likes this.
  21. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,231) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Not according to the United States Postal Service website's Can You Ship It page:

    A recent law now allows it, but only for licensed dealers and from/to states that permit it.
    HoldenDurden likes this.
  22. FreshHawk

    FreshHawk Meyvn (1,338) Nov 24, 2009 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    18 U.S.C. § 1716(f) "All spirituous, vinous, malted, fermented, or other intoxicating liquors of any kind are nonmailable and shall not be deposited in or carried through the mails."
    HoldenDurden likes this.
  23. KevinGordon

    KevinGordon Initiate (0) Dec 16, 2012 North Carolina

    All I know is when I shipped someone beer in a wine box, I declared that I had Christmas gifts inside, including 2 beers. There were actually 8, but they didnt need to know that. My trader got his package and I got mine
  24. HoldenDurden

    HoldenDurden Disciple (338) Nov 27, 2011 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Cavedave was probably correct, as I was in my shipping infancy at the time. Oh wise cavedave!