New Direct Wine Shipper License Applications Now Available for Massachusetts


As we discussed in a previous post, Massachusetts opening to direct shipping is probably the biggest change that we have seen in direct wine shipping since the Granholm Supreme Court decision of 2005. Over the weekend, the Massachusetts ABCC updated their website with a brief advisory on the new direct shipping law that summarizes the law and provides instructions on how to complete the permit process, and how to comply with the reporting requirements.

Click here to download the Massachusetts direct shipping application (if you are having trouble downloading the application from the Massachusetts website, click here).

Here’s a quick summary of the new law:

  • Only wineries that hold a TTB license and a license to produce in and export out of their state can qualify for the Direct Wine Shipper License
  • Each licensed direct shippers can ship up to 12 9-liter cases of wine to any one individual per calendar year
  • Direct shipping reports will be due on an annual basis
  • Sales tax is not due for wine products, but is due for any non-wine items such as merchandise
  • Excise taxes will be due on all shipments

The 7-page application is fairly straightforward, but in addition to some of the usual information (like business and business owner information), you’ll need to answer a couple out-of-the ordinary questions. Note: We’re working to clarify how to answer a few of the questions with the ABCC, and will update this post once we have more information.

  • First, register with Mass Tax Connect to pay excise taxes. You’ll need to include the date you registered on the application.
  • List all businesses (carriers) that will deliver wine on your behalf; carriers must hold a Winery Shipment Transportation Permit

    An early concern over the new Massachusetts wine shipping law was that it did not address the issue of common carriers having to license each and every truck that delivers wine. However, a bill to allow common carriers to obtain a fleet license for the delivery of alcohol is pending in the Massachusetts legislature. It seems somewhat unlikely that the fleet license bill will move this session. But, we believe that at least one of the common carriers will begin to license each of their trucks and therefore will be able to deliver wine to Massachusetts addresses as early as the beginning of February.

  • List your winery’s methods for proof of age for sale and delivery to consumers.

    See our informative post on 7 tips for better age verification, listing the different age verification methods for online wine purchases

  • Include with the application a copy of 1) the license(s) you hold which authorize manufacture and exportation of wine; 2) your TTB Permit; and 3) your FDA Registration
  • Finally, include a check for $300. Make the check out to the “Massachusetts ABCC” and denote the name of the licensee

We expect Massachusetts will represent an extremely important opportunity for wineries. If is approved, a process that may take as long as four weeks, you can start taking orders as soon as January 1, 2015!

UPDATE: For a step-by-step guide on filling out the application form, see our following blog post, “Massachusetts DTC Applications – How to Get Started“. Please note: Applicants do NOT have to register to pay sales tax; contradictory towtheyted on the application form, however, applicants MUST apply to pay excise tax at Mass Tax Connect.

2 Comments

  1. Charlotte Cloutier

    I am a private citizen visiting Oregon four times a year. The wineries producing wine I really like are not licensed to ship to Massachusetts. How can I obtain my own license to ship to my home address from Portland Oregon? I would buy the wine or my son would buy it and take it to either UPS or FedEx with prepaid labels to include tracing information for the excise tax.

    Reply
    • Alex Koral - Product Compliance Manager

      Hi Charlotte,

      Thanks for the question. Unfortunately there does not appear to be a license that would permit you to ship wine yourself through a common carrier. The Direct to Consumer license that a winery would use to ship to Massachusetts is only available to businesses who actual produce wine, and are licensed by the federal government (and their home state) for wine production. Massachusetts does have what it calls a “Special Permit to Import Household Effects/Gifts Into Massachusetts.” But this appears to only permit new residents of Massachusetts to bring in their established stocks of alcohol, and only permits bringing in alcohol that was not purchased (i.e. was homemade or gifted). Massachusetts does permit the personal importation/transportation of up to 3 gallons of wine at a time without a license or tax consideration, so you can import wine from Portland in your luggage; there are bags you can buy specially designed to safely transport wine on planes. Sorry for the insufficient answer, but unfortunately Massachusetts beverage alcohol rules are not set up to permit what you’re looking for. You can search here for wineries with a Direct Wine Shipper license in Massachusetts, and narrow it down to Oregon wineries; maybe until you convince your favorite wineries to get a Direct Wine Shipper license (it’s $300 for an initial license, then $150 annually thereafter), you can find a substitute.

      Reply

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