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Know Before You Go -- Interstate Shipping Laws


Posted: March 27, 2000

Know Before You Go -- Interstate Shipping Laws

It's tough to keep up with all the intricacies of interstate shipping legislation, but we've broken the states down into simple categories to help you figure out whether you can order wine from out-of-state sources or bring back wine from a trip, and if so, how much you're allowed to import at any one time. These are intended as general guidelines, not legal recommendations. For specific details on individual states, check with your state Alcohol Beverage Control agency, or take a look at the Wine Institute's, the Free The Grapes! or the American Vintners Association's Web sites.

Click here for an alphabetical listing by state.

YOU CAN SHIP ME YOURS, IF I CAN SHIP YOU MINE
Twelve states have "reciprocal" shipping legislation in place, meaning that wineries can ship to consumers who live in those states as long as the wineries' home state also allows out-of-state companies to ship to its residents. (Most of these states also permit shipments from abroad.) For example, a California winery can ship to an Illinois resident because both states are reciprocal, but a New York winery can't ship to a California resident because New York isn't reciprocal.


  • California
  • Colorado
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • New Mexico
  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

MAYBE, KINDA, SORTA
Many states allow limited importation of wine for personal use. "Limited" means many things -- restricting the amount of wine that a resident can bring in during a given time period, requiring the winery or consumer to acquire a special permit or ensuring that state taxes are paid on the purchase. Some states place such substantial restrictions on the consumers, wineries, retailers, or shipping companies that it's impractical to ship there. However, in some of those cases, it may be legal to personally bring in small quantities of wine. The laws are often unclear, so for specific details on individual states, check with your state Alcohol Beverage Control agency, or take a look at the
Wine Institute's, the Free The Grapes! or the American Vintners Association's Web sites.


  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Hawaii
  • Louisiana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Vermont
  • Wyoming

OUT OF LUCK
Some states simply prohibit any direct shipments from out of state. (However, some of these allow you to personally carry in small quantities, so you can stick a bottle or two in your suitcase or car.)

DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT BREAKING THE LAW
Seven states are felony states. If a winery is caught shipping to a consumer in violation of state law, they can face felony penalties, and if convicted, lose their federal permit to make wine. In addition, North Dakota and Oklahoma have made it a felony to ship to minors.


  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • North Carolina
  • Tennessee

Having trouble finding your state? Click here for an alphabetical listing.

To learn which states allow local wineries and retailers to ship within the state to consumers' homes, check out Intrastate Shipping Laws.

Confused about why there are so many different state laws? To learn more about the issue of interstate direct shipping, read our feature package Wine Wars.

Don't like your state laws? Let your state legislators and members of Congress know! Contact your U.S. representatives and U.S. senators or send a form e-mail message provided by Free the Grapes!


Back to Wine Wars | Back to Special Features | Intrastate Shipping

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