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North Dakota Makes Direct Shipping Easier for Wineries and Retailers

North Dakota legislature has passed, and its Governor has signed into law on April 1, new legislation that will allow wine orders to be shipped from any fulfillment house that obtains a North Dakota “logistics shipper” license, require licensure of common carriers, and make other related changes to the state’s direct shipping law. These new requirements will take effect on August 1, 2013.

North Dakota notified direct shippers that wine shipments could only be shipped from the licensee’s premises back in April of 2010. Fulfillment houses, from which almost half of all direct shipments originate, were not allowed to ship on behalf of the licensee, despite the fact that California considers fulfillment houses with public warehouse licenses (Type 14) to be an extension of the winery’s premises. With the passage of this bill, licensed wineries and retailers will once again be able to use this much valued function of wine shipping.

North Dakota isn’t the only state to restrict the use of third party and shipping services —

  • Virginia imposed restrictions on shipments from fulfillment houses in 2009, but established regulations to allow it last November. Virginia now requires out-of-state fulfillment houses to become approved, submit signed winery-fulfillment house contracts to the state, and remit periodic shipment reports.
  • New Hampshire enacted a bill in 2011 that not only created a common carrier license, but also created a “black list” of unauthorized shippers from which FedEx and UPS cannot deliver without penalty.

New regulations and laws in New Hampshire, Virginia and North Dakota give these states additional resources and tools to track shipments, enforce direct shipping rules and collect tax on all shipments.

In addition to becoming licensed, fulfillment houses and common carriers wishing to ship wine into North Dakota will be required to report shipments on a monthly basis and will be subject to penalties if they fulfill and/or ship orders from unlicensed warehouses or suppliers. Also, licensed direct shippers will be required to report their use of fulfillment houses in preparing direct shipments. The Alcohol Tax Section of the North Dakota Office of the State Tax Commissioner has already begun drafting license application and reporting forms and plans to make these available ahead of the August 1 effective date in order to give potential licensees time to review the new requirements.

Until the new law takes effect, out-of-state direct wine shippers should continue to ship from their licensed premises. As the August 1 date gets closer, we will keep our clients and readers informed of specifics related to the new regulations.

Wine Retailers Can Only Ship to 14 States

Map of the Retailer Direct Shipping States

Since the 2005 Granholm v. Heald Supreme Court decision addressing the interstate direct shipment of wine, the number of states allowing out-of-state wineries to ship directly to consumers has increased from 31 states to 40. The experience for licensed wine retailers (for example: brick and mortar wine shops, California Type 85 or 20 licensees and auction houses) however, has been somewhat different. The number of states previously available to retailers since 2005 has declined from 18 to 14 states and the District of Columbia.

What Retailers Need to Know

To help retailers navigate the market, we’ve created a quick reference guide, including basic information on regulations in the states available for retailer-to-consumer wine shipping. This guide includes links to license applications, statutes, state websites, and volume limits (if applicable). Note that four states on this list are “reciprocal” states. Reciprocity means generally that if state X’s retailers are allowed to ship into state Y, then state Y’s retailers may ship into state X without the need to obtain a direct shipper license or permit in the destination state. These states are: Idaho, Missouri, New Mexico, and California. General requirements that apply to interstate retail shipments also include but are not limited to:


Download the Retailer Wine Shipping Guide

All states available to retailers are also available to wineries, and in many cases the regulations for the two shippers are similar. Indeed, permit-required states like North Dakota and New Hampshire allow for retailers and wineries to use the same application process and abide by the same rules in order to direct ship wine to that state. With this observation in mind, it would stand to reason that there is the potential for retailers to be welcomed to the same direct shipping states as wineries; actual practice, however, gives wineries access to three times the amount of the US market share.

Additional resources:









Updated North Dakota DTC Reporting Requirements

Effective July 1, 2011, North Dakota law will require that direct-to-consumer (DTC) shippers now be subject to the same $100 per day fee for the late filing of reports that is currently required of in-state wineries and other licensees. Additionally, the penalties for failure to pay or late payment of excise taxes by DTC shippers will now be the same as those covering in-state licensees. Similarly, the state tax commissioner will be granted the same authority it has over in-state wineries and other licenses to make an examination of the books and premises of direct shippers in determining full compliance of relevant state laws and rules.

The annual fee for a Direct Shipper’s license is $50 and must be paid within 30 days of making the initial shipment. Wineries with an approved license may ship up to 3 nine liter cases each month to a consumer. All shipments must originate from the address listed on the licensee’s permit. Applications and reporting information are available on Wine Institute’s website under State Shipping Laws.

by Sally Jefferson, Regional Government Affairs Manager, Wine Institute

Excise Taxes Updates, New York Up and North Dakota Down

The wine excise tax rate in New York will increase on May 1, 2009 from $0.1893 per gallon to $0.30 per gallon. Wine Institute was part of a coalition of industry members that actively opposed the NY Governor’s proposal for a wine excise tax and demonstrated the detrimental effects an excise tax increase would have on the economy. These efforts resulted in the original proposal for a $0.32 increase being reduced to only $0.1107 per gallon.

In other news North Dakota will no longer have a separate tax category for sparkling wine. Beginning July 1, 2009 sparkling wine will be taxed at $0.50 per gallon, the same rate as table wine. This is a significant decrease from the current excise tax of $1.00 per gallon of sparkling wine.

-Annie Bones, State Relations – Wine Institute

It’s Not Easy Being Green…But Electronic Filing Makes It Easier

Image, “Office Paper, 2007″ by Chris Jordan.

Depicts 30,000 reams of office paper, or 15 million sheets, equal to the amount of office paper used in the US every five minutes.
June 5th was World Environment Day. And in honor of the wonderful planet on which we live, here’s a look at how some states are doing their part to make it easy for direct-to-consumer wine shippers to be eco-friendly.

Generally speaking, businesses are looking to become greener; it can be cost effective, it’s good marketing, and it is better for the environment. There are several practices wineries can utilize when making the decision to become green – recycling, conservation, green farming, renewable energy, and alternative packaging – but one thing that can’t be controlled is paper consumption for licensing and reporting. Direct wine shipping is undoubtedly paper-filled; there are permit applications, licenses, monthly reports, and tax returns – just to name a few – that must be printed and mailed. There’s no doubt that the paper used in the filing of these forms contributes to the enormous rate of paper consumption in the United States. In 2007, 96.7 million tons of paper and paperboard were consumed in the United States and 54.3 million tons were recovered through recycling*. However, despite the fact that over half of the consumed paper was recovered, recovery is not the be all and end all of environmental protection. Prevention is the best and most efficient way to protect the environment from paper waste**. Electronic filing is an effective means of said prevention for wineries who can be required to submit over 500 forms per year, with an average of four pages a form. That’s 2000 sheets of paper just for reporting wine shipments!

Currently, about half the states offer some sort of electronic filing, the bulk of which consists of sales and use tax returns. Excise tax reports and copies of invoices are rarely available for electronic submission. However, North Dakota is on the forefront, offering an electronic filing option for their Direct Shipper’s Liquor Tax Report. Also, Hawaii allows direct shippers to submit copies of invoices via email. States should follow North Dakota and Hawaii’s lead, transitioning from a paper-based system to one that makes additional forms available for e-filing. Ultimately, the goal would be mandatory electronic filing for all forms in all states, if they made it easy. Such a transformation in the process will significantly reduce the amount of paper consumed and help decrease the country’s overall consumption rate, which, coupled with a continuing increase in recovery/recycling rates, will result in a near elimination of all paper waste in the not-so-distant future. Apart from environmental concerns, electronic filing could also increase administrative efficiency, reducing labor and material costs for both the state alcohol commission and for the those submitting the forms. Electronic filing is not only green, but convenient!

World Environment Day may have come and gone, but everyday should be an “Earth Day”.

* Paperrecycles.org
** US EPA Paper and Paperboard Products

It's Not Easy Being Green…But Electronic Filing Makes It Easier

Image, “Office Paper, 2007″ by Chris Jordan.

Depicts 30,000 reams of office paper, or 15 million sheets, equal to the amount of office paper used in the US every five minutes.
June 5th was World Environment Day. And in honor of the wonderful planet on which we live, here’s a look at how some states are doing their part to make it easy for direct-to-consumer wine shippers to be eco-friendly.

Generally speaking, businesses are looking to become greener; it can be cost effective, it’s good marketing, and it is better for the environment. There are several practices wineries can utilize when making the decision to become green – recycling, conservation, green farming, renewable energy, and alternative packaging – but one thing that can’t be controlled is paper consumption for licensing and reporting. Direct wine shipping is undoubtedly paper-filled; there are permit applications, licenses, monthly reports, and tax returns – just to name a few – that must be printed and mailed. There’s no doubt that the paper used in the filing of these forms contributes to the enormous rate of paper consumption in the United States. In 2007, 96.7 million tons of paper and paperboard were consumed in the United States and 54.3 million tons were recovered through recycling*. However, despite the fact that over half of the consumed paper was recovered, recovery is not the be all and end all of environmental protection. Prevention is the best and most efficient way to protect the environment from paper waste**. Electronic filing is an effective means of said prevention for wineries who can be required to submit over 500 forms per year, with an average of four pages a form. That’s 2000 sheets of paper just for reporting wine shipments!

Currently, about half the states offer some sort of electronic filing, the bulk of which consists of sales and use tax returns. Excise tax reports and copies of invoices are rarely available for electronic submission. However, North Dakota is on the forefront, offering an electronic filing option for their Direct Shipper’s Liquor Tax Report. Also, Hawaii allows direct shippers to submit copies of invoices via email. States should follow North Dakota and Hawaii’s lead, transitioning from a paper-based system to one that makes additional forms available for e-filing. Ultimately, the goal would be mandatory electronic filing for all forms in all states, if they made it easy. Such a transformation in the process will significantly reduce the amount of paper consumed and help decrease the country’s overall consumption rate, which, coupled with a continuing increase in recovery/recycling rates, will result in a near elimination of all paper waste in the not-so-distant future. Apart from environmental concerns, electronic filing could also increase administrative efficiency, reducing labor and material costs for both the state alcohol commission and for the those submitting the forms. Electronic filing is not only green, but convenient!

World Environment Day may have come and gone, but everyday should be an “Earth Day”.

* Paperrecycles.org
** US EPA Paper and Paperboard Products