Buying Alcohol Online

Though your local liquor store probably stocks most of your favorite beverages, on occasion you may have difficulty finding a specific wine or craft beer. Some states allow consumers to buy liquor online from specialty retailers or warehouse websites with wide selections. Restrictions on buying alcohol online and shipping it to your address can apply, and they vary by state.

Why Shop Online for Alcohol?

Craft breweries and local wineries are increasing in number in the United States. Unfortunately, not all of these small companies can achieve widespread representation on liquor store shelves. Buying alcohol online from internet based liquor stores gives you a better selection of less common products. Purchasing beer, wine and spirits from these manufacturers also helps support the success of local and small businesses.

Why Restrict Alcohol Shipments?

If your local liquor store doesn’t have the wine, beer or alcohol you want, purchasing it through an online retailer and having it shipped to your home may seem like a logical alternative. However, ordering beer online isn’t as easy as ordering other products.

A number of restrictions apply when shipping alcohol directly to consumers’ homes. For all alcohol orders and deliveries, positive identification is required when the product is delivered. The package must be labeled as alcohol. If no one over 21 years old is available to sign for the shipment, the package may be returned to the sender.

The primary reason for these restrictions is the risk of minors under the age of 21 purchasing and consuming alcohol illegally. However, these rules aren’t always easy to enforce. Thus, some states place stringent restrictions on the shipment of alcohol, or they ban it entirely.

Variations in Shipment Laws

Significant variation exists among states’ laws on alcohol ordering and shipment, and the laws are constantly changing. To buy wine online or order it from a vineyard, for example, several types of restrictions may apply:

  • Limited: Shipping is allowed as long as the seller registers with the state or holds a permit to ship to that state. This may be prohibitive for some sellers.
  • Reciprocal: Consumers can have direct shipments from wineries to their homes if their home state allows shipments as well.
  • Prohibited: A number of states ban out-of-state producers from shipping directly to consumers. Some of these states allow in-state shipment.

Certain states place limits on how many cases or bottles of alcohol can be shipped per month or per year to a person or to an address. Others restrict shipments based on the method of ordering. For example, some states don’t allow you to order beer or buy wine online, although you can have alcohol shipped by placing an order in person or over the phone.