What Are the Laws for Purchasing Liquor Online?


Quick Answer

Alcohol and liquor sales on the Internet are regulated by both state and federal laws. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, most states allow direct shipping of alcoholic beverages, but it is advisable to check for any applicable regional laws before selling or purchasing alcohol online. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau notes that the U.S. Federal Government requires sellers to hold a permit and to follow all state laws.

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Full Answer

Internet liquor sales are covered any law that concerns the direct selling of alcoholic beverages. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau states that the bureau's first goal is to ensure that all online liquor, wine and beer sales follow the laws of both the seller's state and the buyer's state. In addition, the federal government requires producers and distributors of alcoholic beverages to obtain a permit for each activity, in addition to any state or local permits required. It is a federal crime to violate state law regarding the sale of alcoholic beverages across state lines.

The National Council of State Legislatures outlines the various state laws regulating the sale of alcoholic beverages. Most states do allow inter-state direct shipping of wine, but most prohibit beer and liquor direct shipping across state lines. The states of Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Utah do not allow alcoholic beverages to be sold online or via direct shipping. Delaware and South Dakota require that Internet sales are processed through a licensed wholesaler in the respective state. Arizona, Georgia and Kentucky require that consumers purchase the beverage in person at the winery before it can be shipped.

Both organizations remind Americans that the laws regulating the sale of alcoholic beverages change over time, and strongly recommend checking with state and federal agencies before engaging in Internet transactions.

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