Carrier Guidelines for Shipping Alcohol and Tobacco

570x300 EW Can I Ship Alcohol and Tobacco_FinalSeveral shipping carriers, including the USPS impose restrictions on items such as alcoholic beverages and tobacco.  That being said, there are certain exceptions and online retailers can utilize a few different methods to ship these restricted items to their customers legally.  Read on to learn more.

Shipping Alcohol and Tobacco with the USPS

Due to federal trade regulations that prohibit shipping alcohol and tobacco, the USPS will not carry your shipment if it contains alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine, liquor or cigarettes.

The rules for shipping alcohol are so strict that shippers are required to black out any logos or labels when reusing a box that was previously used to ship alcohol.  Due to their alcoholic composition, seemingly innocuous items like perfumes and colognes are also subject to shipping restrictions by the USPS.  Learn more about the proper guidelines to ship fragrances in order to avoid running into trouble with the USPS.

The USPS guidelines for shipping tobacco are a little more lenient.  While it isn’t generally allowed, there are some exceptions when shipping products containing tobacco.  Cigars, for instance, are always allowed to be shipped.

There are other exceptions that may qualify your tobacco shipment; these include:

  • Shipments that take place within Alaska or Hawaii.
  • Infrequent shipments by age-verified adults.
  • Shipments made for consumer or public health testing.
  • Shipments for business purposes to and from authorized businesses.
  • Shipments to certain APO/FPO ZIP codes.

As an online merchant of products that contain alcohol or tobacco, do not assume that you are eligible for an exception from the USPS.  These regulations are very strict and all exceptions must be made in person.

Shipping Alcohol and Tobacco with Other Carriers – FedEx and UPS

Shipping alcohol, such as beer and wine is permissible through FedEx and UPS.  However, there are regulations and restrictions with these carriers too.  Only certain states will allow packages containing alcohol to be shipped and they typically require that shippers apply for a special permit.  For instance, UPS requires you to enter into an agreement with an approved and licensed wine shipper and follow an individual state’s laws regarding shipping beer and wine.  Some smaller locations may not have the proper clearances for shipping alcohol and you may need to go to a larger shipping location for assistance.  You can ship products containing tobacco with these carriers, but make sure to check on regulations with your carrier before preparing your shipment.

In Summary

Regardless of the carrier you choose to send your shipment containing alcohol or tobacco, remember that these are highly regulated substances and not complying with the guidelines could cause serious problems for you or your recipient.  Make sure to do your homework on all the guidelines and exceptions – Don’t take any chances with your packages!