What You Need to Import Alcoholic Beverages

There are many reasons why importing alcohol for your business works. A broader product offering invites a more comprehensive customer range and improving your chances of financial success. But, there are a few legalities surrounding imports. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau mandates most of the requirements for importing and selling these goods. They will require various documents from permits to certifications before you can place your first order. 

As a team of veterans in the adult beverage sector, we're familiar with the rules and regulations. If you're thinking of importing your beer, wine, or spirit, you'll want to follow this guideline.

You Need a Basic Permit Before You Can Start Importing

The U.S. government requires anyone who is importing (and exporting) wine, spirits, or malt beverages to obtain permits. The first you'll need is the Basic Permit from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). Filing and receiving this document must be completed before you can pursue or engage in any type of business. The turn around is roughly six weeks. Additionally, you'll need to obtain a letter of intent from the supplier during the application process. It shows that you are not only committed to importing goods, but you have someone who will work with you.

Have an Office Space and Address Within the U.S.

The Federal Alcohol Administration Act was created after the repeal of Prohibition and is in place "to ensure the integrity of the industry." They set the regulations for requiring the previously mentioned permits, but they also expect businesses who want to import goods to have a physical address and staff members to qualify. If you are unable to provide either an address or team members, you still have options. According to TTB: "If you are unable to conduct business in the United States, you must contract with an existing licensed importer in the United States. Making a commercial arrangement with an existing licensed importer eliminates the need to obtain an importer’s permit."

Each Product You Want to Import Needs a COLA

Even though these products are made overseas, they still need to comply with U.S. regulations involving the marketing and labeling of alcoholic beverages. The COLA ensures all distilleries,  wineries, and breweries have met these standards. In some instances, you will need a pre-COLA. The pre-COLA takes it one step further with a review and analysis of the ingredients and how it's formulated.

There Will Be Taxes and Duty Fees

Importing goods comes with taxes and duty fees. The American government will want to collect their taxes on your product, but the duty fee is in place as a contribution to help protect the other country's economy. How much you will have to pay depends on what you import and how much you import. There is a guide on the TTB website that will give you an idea of what you can expect when you're planning your adult beverage business strategy.

Wines and Spirits Need Additional Certificates

Many wines and spirits will require a Certificate of Age and Origin. This certificate is needed "when it has been mandated by the appropriate foreign government." Each product is a little different, but you can view what is required by visiting the website to read more about the requirements for the age and origin of imported alcoholic beverages. In some instances when the ingredients used to produce the product are grown in more than one country, you will be required to participate in supplementary reviews.

Let the FDA Know You are Importing Goods

Before you can order your first shipment, you'll need to let the FDA know you are going to become an importer of alcoholic beverages. It's crucial to let them know before you've placed the order. The FDA will help prepare resources for inspection and reduce the chances of contaminated products entering the country which is beneficial to you and your importing business.

You'll Need to Work with Customs

The TTB will require documentation and invoices for each of your imported shipment. The invoices must contain the following information:

  • Importer
  • Exporter
  • Port of Entry
  • Weight
  • Number
  • Price 

Failure to present this information might result in customs withholding your delivering. As an importer, you're required to pay the taxes in advance of receiving your shipment.

Comply with State Regulations

States set forth their own rules and regulations for the importing of alcoholic beverages. You'll want to comply with the requirement your state has about the importing and selling of your product. The biggest concern will be the state where you warehouse is located and the state or states you will be selling your beverage.

Brindiamo Group and the Adult Beverage Industry

It may seem daunting trying to import alcoholic products into the U.S., but with the right planning, you can avoid delays and charges. Brindiamo Group has been assisting businesses with creating and develop strategies to grow a successful adult beverage company. Brindiamo Group is comprised of a team of experts with decades of experience in all aspects of the sector. We've walked in your shoes and can help you find the solution you need. For more information, please visit our website. 

Horton Admin