WINE 101

Are There Restrictions to Online Alcohol Purchases?

With Internet shopping more popular than ever, it’s no wonder that consumers have questions about purchasing alcohol online and arranging for their purchased to be shipped to their homes. The problem is that not everyone understands there are restrictions to online alcohol purchases and the shipment of those orders to certain destinations. Here are some points to keep in mind.

Local Laws Vary

Local jurisdictions typically have regulations in place that determine who may order different forms of alcohol online and arrange for it to be shipped to a location within that jurisdiction. In some areas, it’s perfectly legal to order wine sets and have them sent to loved ones as holiday and other gifts.

Other jurisdictions allow consumers to order and pay for alcohol online, but they must pick up the product at a location operated by an authorised distributor. For example, a buyer comes across a case of a much-loved sweet wine and places an order. Instead of having it shipped to the home, the buyer will need to travel to a specific destination and pick up the purchase.

How About International Shipping?

When the plan is to buy liquor online and have it delivered to the home, international orders can become complicated. That’s because the regulations in many countries classify wine and other spirits as food products. Unless the products are in compliance with laws related to shipping food items into the country, there could be a great deal of legal trouble for the intended recipient.

Shipping to the Home versus Shipping to an Authorised Distributor

An authorised distributor is legally capable of receiving wine ordered online. That means the owner of a local wine and spirits shop can place an online order with a supplier, pay for the order, and make the delivery arrangements without running afoul with any local laws.

Even if the sale and purchase of wine and spirits is legal in the local jurisdiction, that does not mean it’s fine to place an order for organic wine and have it delivered directly to the home. A better approach is to place the order through a local distributor and pick it up once the wine arrives.

Is There a Difference Between Ordering Wine and Hard Liquor Online?

Don’t assume that laws related to purchasing wine online and having it shipped to a private residence are the same for hard liquor. A local jurisdiction may have provisions for shipping a bottle or two of a wonderful dry white wine to a home, but prohibit the shipment of a bottle of vintage whiskey. The only way to know for sure is to check with local authorities and determine what is and is not legal under the current laws.

Keep in mind that while many online wine and spirits shops do provide information about locations that they cannot ship to, it’s ultimately the responsibility of the buyer to learn what local regulations apply. This is best done by approaching local officials, asking specific questions about the type of wine or spirits that can be legally shipped into the area, and if they can be shipped to the home. Taking the time to become educated about local laws will make it easier to determine the most prudent way to enjoy the wine of choice without getting into trouble.

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