Import Alcohol License:

A Comprehensive Guide for Wine, Beer & Liquor Importing

Alcohol importers, your time is money. Navigating the complexities of compliance, from securing an Importer’s Permit to obtaining a TTB-issued Certificate of Label Approval (COLA), can be a daunting task. Rezzonator Services is your expert ally, handling all the paperwork and legwork, allowing you to focus on growing your business. We’re not just a service provider; we’re your partner in success. Contact us for a FREE 15-minute consultation and discover how we can streamline your operations, ensuring you stay compliant while maximizing profitability. Choose Rezzonator Services, and let’s toast to your success.

While the importing business is highly profitable, there are many requirements when it comes to importing any alcoholic drink into the US. These requirements pertain to the importer as well as the product itself, be it wine, beer or hard liquor. We will go over general concepts and considerations for the importing process in the paragraphs below.

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Import Alcohol License (Permit)

In order to be able to import alcoholic drinks into the US you need an import alcohol license, aka Permit, from the Federal Government. To get your Permit you must file an Application For Basic Permit Under The Federal Alcohol Administration Act. The per-requisites for obtaining such a permit is for you to have a staffed office within the United States from which you will conduct your business.

You must also have a contract with a licensed US importer. If not, pending on your specific situation and needs, you must obtain your own importer’s permit.

If you plan to wholesale alcoholic products, other than the ones you are importing, you may need a Wholesaler Permit from the Federal Government.

Please note that, pending on the area you wish to conduct business in, a Wholesaler Permit (or License) may be required by your State EVEN IF you are only wholesaling the products you’ve imported. Call us with the specifics of your case.

Registration, Taxes and Duties

As an importer, you are responsible for all Federal excise taxes and duties that are applicable. Taxes for wines, beer and distilled spirits are collected by the CBP. You must be registered with both the CBP and TTB and fill out all pertinent forms before you start your business.

We can help you with taxes as well as licensing. Call us with your specific situation.

Requirements for the Certificate Of Label Approval

Once you have the Permit for importing your alcoholic drink, you must obtain a Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) for each product you are brining into the US. For example: if you are brining Wine X, Wine Y and Wine Z, then you must get 3 COLAs. To obtain the COLAs you must file an application with the TTB. This must be done before bringing in the product.

It is important to note that as part of the COLA process, and depending on the product you are importing, you must obtain a pre-COLA product approval.

The Basics of the Import Alcohol License

Entering the alcohol import business requires obtaining an Importer’s Permit. This permit is necessary for those importing distilled spirits, wine, or malt beverages into the United States. To obtain it, an importer must submit an “Application for Basic Permit under the Federal Alcohol Administration Act” with the TTB’s National Revenue Center. This process can be carried out electronically via Permits Online or by submitting a paper form. Notably, the TTB does not charge fees for issuing these permits.

For those planning to sell alcohol beverages at wholesale, in addition to those directly imported with the Importer’s Permit, a Wholesaler’s Basic Permit is required unless those beverages are not subject to the FAA Act. Both permits can be applied for simultaneously through Permits Online.

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Bill L. Sanders

We needed our alcohol import permit and hired Rezzonator Services. Thank goodness we did. We were bringing in wine through a port in Texas. They got us licensed and made the process as painless as possible. But they went above and beyond by guiding us and giving us advice which saved us from making a lot of costly mistakes. This year our business expanded to a few new states. Rezzonator Services helped with this too. They are our go-to company.

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As a business owner your time should be spent running your company not dealing with endless paperwork. The importing process can be complicated and sometimes frustrating. Rezzonator Services lets you focus on what matters most, operating your business, by taking care of your importing needs.

Every importing situation is different so please call us with additional information to find out how we can make the process much easier and headache free.

In order to import into the United States you’ll need different permits and approvals, both on the State and Federal level. In most cases you will need a basic permit for this operation.

The standard way of brining alcohol into the United States is via a container on a cargo ship. Taxes or import duties may also be due upon receiving your product in a U.S. port.

We can also help you with the other licenses that are necessary in order to bring in the alcohol.

As always we can help you choose the best course for your business.

If you operate outside the U.S. you must contract an existing importer in the U.S. that is licensed.

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Taxes, Duties, and Registrations

Importers shoulder the responsibility for all applicable Federal excise taxes and duties, with U.S. Customs and Border Protection collecting the respective amounts. Importers must register as alcohol dealers and complete the “Alcohol Dealer Registration” form before commencing business. This form must also be submitted to TTB upon any changes in registration information and when discontinuing the business.

Label Approval and Certifications

Once the Importer’s Permit is obtained, the importer must secure a TTB-issued Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) for each unique product/label for distilled spirits, wine, or malt beverages as defined in the FAA Act. This process may also be carried out electronically via COLAs Online.

Importers of wine produced after December 31, 2004, must comply with certification requirements to ensure proper cellar treatment of the imported wine. This can be a statement from the producing country’s government or a self-certification from the importer. For certain wines and distilled spirits, a Certificate of Age or Origin is required.

Market Landscape Post-Pandemic

The global alcohol market has been in recovery following the downturn in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Volume sales are forecasted to grow by nearly 3% in 2021, and the global beverage alcohol market is expected to return to pre-Covid levels by 2023.

The pandemic has accelerated key industry drivers such as e-commerce, premiumisation, and the need for convenience in product formats. Within the sector, non-alcoholic ‘spirits’ and ready-to-drink (RTD) products are the fastest-growing categories. Tequila has shown impressive growth, overtaking rum as the third-largest spirits category in the US. Meanwhile, global volume sales of whisky are expected to increase, led by Irish whiskey, Japanese whisky, and US whiskey.

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Differences in Importing Wine, Beer, and Hard Liquor

It’s essential to remember that each type of alcohol may be subject to different regulations and market trends, which can affect the importing process.

Obtaining an importing alcohol license involves several steps and considerations. Despite the challenges, the alcohol market’s potential for growth and diversification can make this a lucrative venture. It’s crucial to conduct thorough research and understand the regulations and trends in your desired segment of the market.

For more detailed information and advice tailored to your specific situation, you can call us at:

Remember that the alcohol market is continually evolving, influenced by factors like consumer trends, changes in laws and regulations, and broader economic conditions. Keeping abreast of these changes and being adaptable can help ensure your importing business’s success in the long run.

Should you wish to delve into more specific aspects of alcohol importing, or if you have any other questions, feel free to ask.

Based on research, the global alcohol market is making a comeback following an ‘unprecedented downturn’ in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Volume sales are predicted to increase by 2.9% by the end of 2021, with total beverage alcohol consumption expected to return to pre-Covid levels by 2023. In the long term, volume sales are forecasted to increase by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.5% from 2021 to 2025. The pandemic has accelerated the impact and growth of key industry drivers, such as the development of e-commerce, premiumisation, the rise of the ‘home premise’, moderation, and the need for convenience in product formats.

Regarding specific categories within the alcohol sector, non-alcoholic ‘spirits’ and ready-to-drink (RTD) products are the two fastest-growing categories, set to grow by 30.6% and 10.2%, respectively, from 2021 to 2025. RTDs experienced 26.4% growth in the past year and are predicted to continue this upward trajectory. Tequila also saw impressive growth of 9.6% in 2020, overtaking rum as the third-largest spirits category in the US. On the other hand, global volume sales of whisky suffered a 10.7% drop last year, but are expected to post a 5.5% volume increase in 2021 and a 4.2% CAGR from 2021 to 2025. In terms of white spirits, gin is predicted to increase by 4.5% CAGR 2021-2025, with vodka forecasted to grow by 1.1% from 2021 to 2025 in the US.

As for importing alcohol into the US, there are several requirements to meet. Firstly, one must apply for a Federal Basic Importer’s Permit, which requires maintaining and staffing a business office in the US. If you are unable to conduct business in the US, you can contract with an existing licensed importer in the US. Additionally, if you plan to sell at wholesale alcohol beverages other than those you directly import with your Importer’s Permit, you must also apply for a Wholesaler’s Basic Permit. Importers are responsible for all applicable Federal excise taxes and duties, and they must register as alcohol dealers before engaging in business.

After receiving the Importer’s Permit, the importer must obtain a TTB-issued Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) for each unique product/label for distilled spirits, wine, or malt beverages. Importers of wine made from sound ripe grapes or other sound, ripe fruit produced after December 31, 2004, must comply with certification requirements to ensure that the practices and procedures used to produce the imported wine constitute proper cellar treatment. Finally, a certificate of age or origin is required for certain wines and distilled spirits imported into the United States.

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Top Tips for Obtaining an Import Alcohol License

The global alcohol market is a lucrative one, with the wine sector alone expected to reach $439.2 billion by 2023. However, to tap into this profitability, businesses must navigate the complex process of obtaining an import alcohol license. This article provides top tips for securing an ‘import alcohol license’, ‘wine import license’, and ‘ttb import permit’, highlighting the importance of expert guidance in this process.

Understanding the Complexity of the Licensing Process

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) oversees the issuance of import alcohol licenses in the United States. The process involves several steps, including:

  1. Applying for a Basic Permit
  2. Filing a Power of Attorney if using a third-party to complete the process
  3. Obtaining a bond
  4. Complying with labeling and advertising regulations

The complexity of these steps underscores the need for expert guidance. This is where Rezzonator Services comes in, providing professional assistance to navigate the licensing process.

Top Tips for Obtaining an Import Alcohol License

  • 1. Understand the Requirements – Each type of alcohol (wine, beer, or liquor) has specific requirements for importation. Understanding these requirements is the first step towards obtaining an import alcohol license.
  • 2. Prepare for the Financial Commitment – Obtaining an import alcohol license involves several fees, including application fees and bond premiums. Prepare for these financial commitments to ensure a smooth licensing process.
  • 3. Comply with Labeling and Advertising Regulations – The TTB has strict regulations for labeling and advertising alcohol products. Non-compliance can result in penalties and delays in obtaining your license.
  • 4. Seek Expert Guidance – The process of obtaining an import alcohol license is complex and time-consuming. Expert guidance can streamline this process, saving you time and resources. Rezzonator Services, with its extensive experience in the field, is the ideal partner in this journey.

The Role of Rezzonator Services in Obtaining an Import Alcohol License

Rezzonator Services provides expert guidance throughout the licensing process. Our services include:

  • Assistance with application preparation
  • Guidance on compliance with TTB regulations
  • Support in obtaining a bond
  • Help with labeling and advertising requirements

By partnering with Rezzonator Services, you leverage our expertise to navigate the complexities of obtaining an import alcohol license. This partnership not only simplifies the process but also positions your business to tap into the profitability of the alcohol import market.

In conclusion, obtaining an import alcohol license is a complex but profitable venture. With expert guidance from Rezzonator Services, you can navigate this process with ease and position your business for success in the lucrative alcohol import market. Contact us today to start your journey towards obtaining an import alcohol license.

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