How to ship beer successfully and legally

Beer of all kinds are among the most popular and widely consumed alcoholic beverages. In the United States alone, individuals that are over the age of 21 are consuming around 28.2 gallons of beer every year. That’s about a six-pack of beer every week. Not only that, but when someone falls in love with the taste of a specific beer, it becomes the go-to beer they always want to have. This means, as a craft beer brewer or brewery, there is a ton of opportunity that comes with expanding your markets by learning how to ship beer legally.

Before you get started, you should know that the shipping regulations in each state make craft beer shipping a complicated process. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

We’re here to walk you through everything you need to know about how to ship beer successfully and legally so you can enhance your visibility with consumers and take your beer business to the next level.

Let’s dive in.

Is it legal to ship beer?

The simple answer is yes: if you have the license to legally ship beer or alcohol. Depending on which state you reside in, it can be a lengthy process your company will need to go through before you’re successfully shipping beer regularly.

What makes this challenging is that there are state-by-state requirements for shipping beer that you’ll want to keep in mind to ensure you’re doing it legally. Each state requires a different license and even has different requirements on the type of alcohol you can send. We’ll get into more on that later.

Is there a way to ship beer without a license?

Unfortunately, you can’t legally ship beer as a consumer. However, you can purchase beer from a licensed retailer or brewery and have them send it to your friends or family on your behalf. If you’re looking to ship locally or want to surprise someone with their favorite craft beer, we recommend looking into home delivery apps like Instacart or Drizly. All you need to do is make sure they are over the age of 21 and that they are home when the delivery arrives.

The history behind it

From 1921 to 1933, the transportation, production, and importation of beer were made illegal by the 18th Amendment in the United States. In 1933, this was overturned by the 21st Amendment when three-quarters of the states deemed it unconstitutional to ban alcohol. The 21st Amendment gave the states the power to create their own rules and regulations around alcohol. This means: even though the legal drinking age is 21 across all 50 states, the rules are still unique to each state.

In Kansas, prohibition didn’t end until 1948 and in Maine, you aren’t allowed to sell alcohol before 9 a.m. on Sunday. Tennessee still has dry counties and Montana has a very tedious lottery system you have to enter if you’re wanting to obtain a liquor license. With these state-specific alcohol regulations also comes shipping laws that vary state-by-state. If you’re interested in shipping beer across state lines, you’ll need to abide by the state you ship from and the state you’re shipping to, and sometimes that can get a little tricky.

Courier service requirements

Once you figure out the state licenses and shipping requirements, you’ll need to know the unique requirements of the individual shipping providers.

If you want to ship beer through UPS, they only accept shipments with beer from shippers who are legally licensed to do so and have been approved through a contract with UPS. To start the process, you’ll need a valid retailer or brewery license that was administered by one of the 50 states. You may also need to provide proof that you have a license to ship in the other states you plan to ship to as well.

FedEx has similar rules. If you want to ship through them, you must be a FedEx-approved alcohol shipper and have the licenses to legally ship beer. To become an approved alcohol shipper with them, you’ll want to first start with the authorization process.

Every time you send something with your chosen courier service, you’ll need to disclose that the package you’re shipping contains alcohol. Depending on the requirements, you may also need to pay an alcohol shipping fee.

For USPS, alcohol is considered a restricted item that can’t be shipped in the states. Here are a few other courier services you can look into if you don’t want to ship through FedEx or UPS:

The paperwork with the courier service you choose is half the battle. Once you establish a relationship with a courier service, the process will run much smoother.

Craft beer shipping requirements

Each state has unique requirements when it comes to recipients, shippers, and alcohol. After you get set up with a courier service, you’ll want to take a deeper dive into the unique requirements of the states you plan to ship to before you start to expand your markets.

Recipient laws

The recipient of the beer will need to be over the age of 21 and present when the package arrives. If you’re shipping to another company or retailer, they’ll need to have a license to receive the shipment as well.

Shipping beer from state-to-state

If you’re looking to expand your reach and ship to all 50 states, you’ll need to go through a lengthy process to get everything in order. For starters, some states don’t allow alcohol delivery. These include Alabama, Mississippi, Utah, and Kentucky.

If you’re still looking to only ship to the neighboring states around you, you can start by researching the unique requirements and seeing what types of licenses you’ll need to get started. In the best-case scenario, it’s all similar paperwork you just need to file with each state.

The next obstacle you’ll need to keep in mind is that some states only allow craft beer shipping to local retailers and not consumers. As a brewery, you may not be able to set up an e-commerce store where anyone can buy from you, no matter where they reside.

Don’t get discouraged that every state has different rules. Some states allow direct shipment of all types of alcohol and may have easier workarounds than others. To get started, you can download our Alcohol Shipping Laws Infographic as a resource to help you better understand the state-by-state requirements.

Another great resource is taking a look at the NCSL direct shipment of alcohol states guidelines.

Keep in mind: shipping to licensed retailers can sometimes be easier than directly to consumers. If you’re looking to ship your craft beer to a particular state, you might want to see if you can strike a deal with a licensed retailer if you can’t legally ship beer in that state.

Staying local

If you’re wanting to start local and expand, there are apps designed to get your craft beer in the hands of consumers. Drizly and Instacart are two well-known apps that are easy to use for liquor retailers to enhance their visibility. We recommend taking a closer look at the retailer’s requirements to see if this might be a good option for you.

What you’ll need to get started shipping beer

Once you have the proper licenses and documents to ship beer, you’ll want to consider the packing materials you’re utilizing. Since beer bottles and cans are considered fragile, you’re going to need proper packaging that will prevent any unwanted breaks or damage.

Shipping Beer Cans

When it comes to shipping beer cans, you’ll need to make sure the cans are properly packed in a shipping box to guarantee they don’t get too shaken up during transportation. Luckily, shipping cans can be an easier option than glass. If you’re shipping beer cans, you can try our 4/6 Pack Beer Can Shipper. These are uniquely designed to safely fit 4 to 6 cans and get them to their destination without breaking. Our Hexabox is one of the most reliable and safest methods available to safely guard and ship your product, so you never have to worry when your beer cans are en route.

Shipping Beer Bottles

When it comes to shipping bottles, you’ll want to be extra careful that the glass doesn’t break during transportation. To do this, you’ll need a shipper box that you can trust to protect your bottles and keep everything in mint condition. Our Small Bottle Hexabox Shipper Kit is one of the best beer shipping boxes on the market. The construction is engineered to keep up to twelve 12 ounce beer bottles safe.

What you’ll need to successfully do this is:

  • Bubble wrap
  • Tape
  • A corrugated cardboard box
  • Large plastic bags or garbage pages

To ensure your beer arrives safely, we do recommend finding a trusted supplier that can provide you with professional quality beer shipping boxes. This is the best way to ensure none of your bottles will break during transportation.

At Gorilla Shipper, we use state-of-the-art technology to ensure your beer bottles and cans are safely shipped to their destinations. From shock testing to compression testing, all of our beer and wine shipping boxes are held to the highest standard and were made for professionals across the beverage industry to ship their products with peace of mind.

Plus, our Hexabox wine shippers are UPS Approved, FedEx Approved, and ISTA Certified, so you never have to worry, no matter which shipping service you use.

Wrapping up: How to ship beer legally

When it comes to learning how to ship beer, never be discouraged by the rules or regulations. Even though you might not be able to expand your markets to every state, you have several options that can help you ship from state to state or locally. We recommend taking things slow, starting locally and branching out to other neighboring cities in the state you reside in.

Once you feel comfortable, you can start to ship anywhere in your state or look into getting a license to ship to the nearby states. Before you start to send out your beer to consumers, always make sure you have the proper shipping materials to ensure the safety of your beer bottles or cans.

At Gorilla Shipper, we’re held to a higher standard. As a leader in the beer shipping industry, you can rest assured knowing our products can help you reach your delivery goals. If you’re ready to get started on the process or simply want to learn more, you can download our printable Alcohol Shipping Laws Infographic or read our comprehensive blog article ‘Alcohol Shipping Laws by State’ which breaks down everything you need to know about the state-by-state alcohol shipping requirements to help get you started.