Under the Federal Alcohol Administration Act, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms ("ATF") issues "basic permits" to importers, producers (except brewers), and wholesalers of alcohol beverages. See 27 U.S.C. § 204. Retailer sellers of alcohol beverages are not required to have a federal permit. The Webb-Kenyon Act, 27 U.S.C. § 122, prohibits the shipment of alcohol beverages into a state in violation of state law. Although the Webb-Kenyon Act has no separate penalty provisions, basic permits are conditioned on compliance with that statute.
As a result, ATF may, depending on the circumstances, take administrative action against a permittee that ships alcohol beverages into a state in violation of that state's law. ATF may also intervene if there is a continuing material adverse impact upon a state by an out-of-state permittee. Many of the entities selling on the Internet are, however, state-licensed retailers that do not hold federal basic permits and, therefore, are not subject to ATF's administrative sanctions against permittees.
Also relevant are the liquor traffic provisions of 18 U.S.C. ch. 59, which require any shipment of alcohol beverages in interstate commerce to have a bill of lading that identifies its contents, and which require deliveries to be restricted to the consignee. Some state laws allow limited quantities of alcohol beverages to be shipped directly to consumers, although in some instances notifications to state alcohol agencies may be required. This means you are going to have to contact the alcohol control board in each state you are seeking to ship to in order to determine that state’s requirements.
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