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Packaging Requirements for Shipping Alcoholic Beverages

Shipping alcohol is legal in the EU but the packaging requirements are different for large loads and small amounts.

While small quantities can be mailed in a package, larger loads require van or pallet delivery.


Shipping Alcoholic Beverages

Small Amounts

For small shipments or to send as gifts, each bottle must be placed in a plastic bag and then into a bottle box. Adding foam or bubble wrap to the bottle box helps protect shipments against damage. Bubble wrap is used for extra cushioning when fragile items are transported. When sending bottles together with other items, adding bubble wrap to fill the empty spaces helps protect against damage. Before shipping, close the box and use adhesive tape to seal the edges and flaps.

Note that it is legal to receive alcoholic beverages sent by courier or mail when ordered from online retailers but this is not the case when it comes to shipping. Most freight forwarders include alcohol, whether beer or wine, on the list of restricted items.

Larger Loads

When shipping large loads, the two options are van and pallet delivery. Pallet delivery is a good choice for bulky or big loads, with liner paper placed on the pallet to ship packs or boxes of alcoholic beverages. Liner paper is used to spread load and decrease friction. Bubble wrap and stretch foil help secure pallets while straps are used to fix loads to pallets.

With no stop-overs and short transit times, van delivery is another option to move loads quickly. In this case, the vehicle is dedicated to a single shipment.  Depending on dimensions and weight, forwarders can use curtain-side or box vans. Curtain-side vans have 1,100 kg capacity while box vans are with 800 kg capacity. No labelling or packaging is required but it is best to package fragile items to avoid damage.

Rules for Shipping Alcoholic Beverages

Directive 92/83/EEC regarding excise duties sets out categories to which excise duties apply and the structure of excise tax. Certain regions and products and small distilleries and breweries benefit from reduced rates.

Excise duty rates vary within the EU and for different products, including ethyl alcohol, intermediate products, wine, beer, and other fermented beverages.

From 1 January 2021 new rules apply to importing alcoholic beverages from the EU to the UK. Shippers will be required to fill in customs declaration and provide details such as unique consignment reference, commodity code, and customs procedure code. Additional details include:

  • Licenses and certificates
  • Valuation methods and currencies
  • Transport costs and methods
  • Packaging, amount, and type of items
  • Consignor and consignee
  • Destination and departure point
  • Declaration Unique Consignment Reference

Shippers are also asked to specify type of representation, i.e. whether it is direct, indirect, or self-representation (shipper submitting own declaration). Finally, traders must specify type of transport, which can be own propulsion, inland waterway, fixed transport installations, postal consignment, or road, rail, sea, or air transport. Different types of arrangements apply, including normal tariff, special fiscal territories, and other tariff preferences.