How to Ship Beer | 9 Beer Shipping Tips for Businesses

Bradley Johnson
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    Are you enthralled by the idea of turning your brewing hobby into a full-fledged eCommerce business? eCommerce trends show that you’re reading this post at the best time in history to do so. 

    Online beer sales are growing at a phenomenal pace and are unlikely to slow down. In the United States alone, eCommerce beer sales have been growing by more than 12% year-over-year (YoY) for the last five years. 

    Whether you run your business through an online marketplace or one of the other different types of marketplaces, shipping and handling mastery is essential. Rather than figuring it out yourself and spending a lot of time and money to do so, we compiled tips on how to ship beer for you.

    Like our shipping blog posts? You may also love our warehouse content. Check out our warehouse management eBook here.

    Keep reading for strategies on how to ship any kind of beer, from single bottles and cans to growlers and six-packs.

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    How to Ship Beer Legally

    If you’re growing a business centered on selling alcoholic beverages, you’re already familiar with its legal limitations as a consumer product. Learning how to ship beer legally is just as important, and it’s doable if you know what you’re going into.

    Shipping your beer legally provides immense peace of mind and protects you from all manner of unnecessary legal battles. Here are the four foundational steps when learning how to ship beer legally: 

    1. Apply for your EIN and eCommerce business license. You need an employer identification number (EIN) and an eCommerce business license before any sales activity can take place. The government uses this information to track the origin of sales, income, and employee payments. 
    2. Obtain the right licensure for your business. You need to obtain the proper licensure from your state. Shipping companies only carry alcohol packages if the goods originate from a licensed dealer, manufacturer, or distributor. State laws require each of these types of businesses to be licensed, and you’ll need to show this to shipping services before working with them. Next, you'll need to know how to run a wholesale distribution business and how to find vendors who are willing to sell their products for your distribution business. This can be done by searching online directories, attending trade shows, or reaching out to manufacturers directly. Once you've found a few potential vendors, reach out to them and discuss terms of sale. 
    3. Get a shipping license. Shipping licenses approve businesses to ship across state lines, and many states require them. In most cases, you need a shipping license with each state that you plan to have customers in. These fees can add up quickly if you aren’t budgeting for them, so make sure you approach this part of your business with diligence. 
    4. Follow the rules of all eCommerce shipping companies. Businesses like UPS and FedEx have alcohol shipping rules and regulations for good reason. They want to make sure they aren’t breaking state or federal laws, and you should ensure this too. The good news is that as long as you follow their packaging and content limitations, there’s nothing to fret about. 

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    How to Ship Beer FedEx

    Knowing how to ship beer FedEx is easily mastered, as long as you adhere to their shipping requirements. 

    Ready to learn how to ship beer FedEx? Start with these four steps below: 

    1. Review FedEx’s alcohol shipment criteria. There are restrictions on who can send beer and spirits to whom via FedEx. If you’re a licensed manufacturer or dealer, you can ship beer to retailers. If you’re a state retailer, you cannot ship beer to other commercial entities via FedEx. You also can’t send beer or spirits as a commercial entity direct to consumer. Additional restrictions apply if you conduct business out of Utah or Mississippi. 
    2. Complete FedEx’s pre-approval process. In order to ship certain kinds of alcoholic beverages with FedEx, you must be a pre-approved seller. FedEx requires proof of business licensing, dealer or manufacturer licensing, and shipping licensing. This verification process protects both your company and FedEx from legal troubles throughout the supply chain. 
    3. Double check your packaging materials. Sending alcohol in the mail should never be treated carelessly. Whether you’re using insulated foam, pre-molded polystyrene, or molded fiber inserts, it needs to be strong enough to prevent breakage. 
    4. Choose a shipping service. FedEx ships beer through FedEx Ground, FedEx Express, and FedEx Home Delivery. FedEx Ground is great for shipments that aren’t time-sensitive. Their Express service is useful if time is of the essence, and FedEx Home Delivery is helpful if your recipient has requested delivery at a residential address.

    How to Ship Beer UPS

    Is UPS your eCommerce shipping company of choice? That’s good, because you can absolutely ship beer with them.

    Like FedEx, there are shipment regulations and requests to be aware of. You must be a licensed commercial entity to ship beer with UPS, so you can’t send packages to friends and family. 

    Learn how to ship beer UPS with the three steps below: 

    1. Become an approved UPS beer shipper. In order to send beer via UPS, you must complete the UPS Agreement for Approved Spirits Shippers. This is a straightforward process where UPS asks for your business documentation, the nature of your operations, and how often you plan to ship with them. Once approved, your packages are automatically recognized in the system and shipped out.
    2. Review UPS’ beer packaging requirements. UPS accepts folded corrugated cardboard, molded fiber tray inserts, or expanded polystyrene foam (EPS). These lightweight packing materials are proven to stabilize temperatures and protect package contents without running your costs higher. 
    3. Notify your customers of their adult signature requirement. The recipient listed on your package must be 21 years of age or older by the shipping date. If your recipient isn’t able to have an adult sign for the package, you won’t be able to ship the beer.

    How to Ship Beer Cans

    Shipping beer cans may seem a little risky, but it’s quite easy when you know how to approach it. Sending beer cans in the mail is easier than bottles or growlers, because the size and weight is standardized.

    Here are five tips on how to ship beer cans safely: 

    1. Standardize your shipping costs by weight. If there’s one thing that unnecessarily hampers businesses, it’s varying the shipping prices you offer to consumers. Whether you offer free shipping or include the cost in product prices, the important thing is that you aren’t looking up shipping costs last minute. Make a shipping expense chart based on product type and give copies to your warehousing employees.
    2. Find a shipping carrier that works for you. UPS and FedEx are the two major US-based shipping carriers that ship alcohol. Both are great companies that offer competitive rates and distinct advantages. If you’re shipping locally or short distance, UPS tends to have more appealing ground shipping rates. If you need overnight shipping, expedited shipping, or long-distance shipping, FedEx air freight is a strong option. 
    3. Select a shipping service. Once you’ve chosen a carrier, look for the service that suits your needs best. UPS offers Ground, Ground Freight, Next Day Air, and Second Day Air shipping. FedEx has Ground, Express, Home Delivery, and Air Freight options. 
    4. Box the beer cans up. The next step is to get your beer cans firmly situated in a shipping box. This is easily done with quality packaging material, like molded fiber, polystyrene box inserts, and sometimes bubble wrap. Make sure the box folds easily without too much extra space left.
    5. Place the label on top. Shipping labels normally go on top of boxes, but with alcoholic beverages, it’s even more important. This signals to truck drivers and 3PL companies how they should load packages. Learn more about the 3PL meaning here.

    How to Pack Beer Cans for Shipping

    Whether you’re sending a single can of specialty brew or a six-pack of your flagship product, knowing how to pack beer cans for shipping is a must. You can simplify beer can packing into an effortless science with the right approaches and strategies.

     To pack beer cans for shipping, follow these four steps::

    1. Get the right box size. If you haven’t standardized your box sizes yet, first learn how to measure a box for shipping. It will save you the money and frustration that you’d otherwise spend on incompatible shipping materials. 
    2. Use appropriate packaging. In most instances, beer cans already come connected by six-pack rings or cardboard cases, which simplifies the packing process. You can then wrap the beer cans in layers of foam sheets, polystyrene foam, or molded fiber inserts. What works for your particular products will depend on the can size, weight, and how many are in a package.
    3. Include relevant stickers and labels. Beer is an age-restricted, perishable, and commercially limited substance. As such, every beverage package you send out should be clearly labeled. Place directional stickers indicating which side should point up, include a sticker that shows a beer bottle, or affix a sticker that says, “package contains alcohol content.” Directional stickers may not always be honored by delivery drivers, but it’s better to have them than not.
    4. Test different eCommerce packaging materials. Though eCommerce food and drink sales are through the roof, they are also known for having smaller profit margins per unit. This means it’s important to reduce costs wherever possible so you can maximize profits. If you’re using a type of foam insulator that’s a little bulky, see if some molded fiber inserts work just as well. If you’ve tried molded fiber but it’s not holding up during transit, test double-walled cardboard. Research suppliers, read reviews, and see what works best for your business.

    How Can I Ship Beer to Another State?

    If you're planning on shipping beer to another state, the first thing you need to do is check the alcohol laws of the receiving state. Some states allow out-of-state retailers to ship beer directly to consumers, while others do not.

    You will also need to check with your chosen shipping company to see if they have any restrictions on shipping alcohol. Generally speaking, it is legal to ship beer to another state as long as the state allows it and the shipping company approves.

    However, there are three things you should keep in mind when shipping beer across state lines:

    1. Ensure that the beer is properly packaged and labeled.
    2. Declare the shipment with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).
    3. Pay any taxes or fees that may be required by the state of destination.

    With a little bit of research and planning, shipping beer to another state can be a relatively simple process. Just be sure to check state to state laws about selling alcoholic beverages as well as the policies of your chosen shipping company before proceeding. 

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    How to Ship a Growler of Beer

    Growlers are 32- or 64-ounce glass, ceramic, or steel mugs that are popular among dedicated beer drinkers. You can find growlers at breweries, bar and restaurants, gift shops, and on the best eCommerce websites

    Adding growlers to your digital catalog can help increase eCommerce sales and improve overall brand loyalty. Since they’re larger and heavier than your average beer can or glass, you’ll need a shipping strategy suited for it. 

    Here’s how to ship a growler of beer with ease: 

    • Find an appropriate box size. The typical growler is about 11 to 12 inches tall and about five to six inches wide. Using the appropriate box size will lower your shipping costs and keep your warehouse organization much simpler. 
    • Place it in a plastic or Tyvek bag. Once boxes are ready, place the growler in some type of plastic shipping bag. This acts as a barrier against scratches and dents but also makes it easier to fit into other packaging materials. 
    • Wrap it in bubble wrap or a padded mailer. After the growler is bagged up, seal the bag and tape bubble wrap around it. You can alternatively put it in a padded mailing envelope. No matter which material you use, it should be sufficient to keep the growler from breaking, while still fitting inside the box. 
    • Ensure a firm fit in the box. Since you’re likely shipping out individual growlers, it’s important that there isn’t excess space. Too much space and the bottle will rattle around; too little space and the box may come undone.

    How to Ship Beer In the Mail

    If you're looking to ship beer cans in the mail, there are a few things you'll need to do to make sure your package arrives safely and intact. Here are five easy steps on how to ship beer cans by mail:

    1. Choose a box that's slightly larger than the cans you're planning on shipping. This will give the cans room to move around and prevent them from being damaged in transit.
    2. Line the bottom of the box with packing peanuts or other cushioning material. This will help absorb any impact if the package is dropped or jostled during shipping.
    3. Place the cans into the box, ensuring they're snugly packed, so they don't shift around too much.
    4. Fill empty spaces in the box with more packing peanuts or other cushioning material. This will help prevent the cans from moving around and getting damaged.
    5. Close up the box and seal it with tape. Make sure to label it clearly as "Fragile" or "Handle With Care" to ensure that it's handled properly during shipping.

    Following these simple steps will help ensure that your beer cans arrive safe and sound. Cheers!

    How Much Does It Cost to Ship Beer?

    Shipping a four- or six-pack of beer runs about $15 to $16 in most cases. Package shipping fees are often calculated volumetrically, which takes into account the package’s total dimensional size as well as weight.

    Like our shipping blog posts? You may also love our warehouse content. Check out our warehouse management eBook here.

    This is particularly important to know if you’re learning how to ship large items. It also explains why small packages that weigh more occasionally cost more than dimensionally large packages. 

    Frequently Asked Questions About How to Ship Beer

    When you’re serious about starting an eCommerce business and selling alcohol online, there are dozens of questions running through your mind. After all, you can’t just ship beer to anyone. Even if you can, there are federal, state, and sometimes local laws to adhere to. 

    We compiled some of the most commonly asked questions about how to ship beer to make it easier. Check out our answers below:

    Can You Send Beer In the Mail?

    Yes, you can send beer in the mail, as long as you’re adhering to current laws. You need a business license, a federal tax ID (FTID) or employer identification number (EIN), and a shipping license for every state you’re sending products to. 

    How Can I Legally Ship Beer?

    In order to legally ship beer, you need four things:

    1. A valid business license
    2. A manufacturer or dealer’s license
    3. A shipping license
    4. Approval from a shipping company

    Your business license demonstrates that you have an EIN and are lawfully conducting business in your home state. A dealer or manufacturer’s license proves you’re sourcing alcoholic beverages legally, not on a black market. 

    Shipping licenses are used to track which businesses are sending alcoholic products across state lines. They’re required by most states and are necessary if your business grows beyond your home state. 

    Shipping companies require pre-approval for all commercial entities who want to send alcoholic beverages via their resources. Not only does this streamline the label printing and distribution process, it protects all business parties from federal or state penalties. 

    Can I Ship Beer Via UPS?

    You can ship beer via UPS as long as you're a pre-approved seller, a licensed business, and have as many shipping licenses as are relevant to your business. 

    First, book a free, 15-minute consultation with a UPS staff member to tell them more about your business and goals. They’ll ask you some basic questions to vet your readiness and ensure a smooth start.

    Second, complete their paperwork to become an approved spirits shipper. When done, all you need to do is check specific boxes for future shipments and let them handle the rest. 

    Do Breweries Ship Beer Directly to Customers?

    Yes, some breweries offer D2C shipments of their beers. Most commonly, these are companies from the craft beer market. They also offer craft beer subscription boxes and gift options for beer lovers. Breweries choose to either work with craft beer distributors or organize the logistics process themselves. Working with beer wholesalers is a preferred option for small and nano breweries. 

    How Beer Shiping Can Increase Profits for Breweries?

    Shipping directly to customers can be part of the brewery marketing efforts. In a world where online trades are increasing, having eCommerce solutions is very important. Loyal customers might want to order different types of craft beers directly from breweries instead of using intermediaries. If you’re planning to start a brewery, you should strongly consider giving people the chance to buy directly from your brewery’s website. Make sure to follow up with the trends in craft beer menus and the craft beer industry in general.

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    A Strong Shipping Strategy Is Ale You Need

    Shipping beer to customers is much easier when you have your ducks in a row. It takes some time and money to complete licensing and paperwork, but when it’s done, you’ll be ready to conquer the world.

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