What are the Direct-to-Consumer (DtC) Cider Shipping Laws by State?

Lizzy Connolly | September 3, 2021

DtC cider shipping can be complicated in that whether a state permits it often depends on how a state defines “cider.” Ciders are a general category of beverage alcohol products, made from fermented apples or pears, with a low to moderate alcohol content and often sold as an alternative to malt beverages. 

In terms of legal definitions, though, ciders typically fall under the definition of “wine,” as generally wine is broadly defined to include the fermented products of all fruits, fruit juices, and other (non-malt) agricultural goods. However, some states do specifically exclude ciders from their definitions of wine, limiting wines to only grape-based products. 

Currently, no state has a DtC law that specifically mentions ciders. As such, cider may only be shipped DtC if it is included among the types of beverage alcohol that are listed in a DtC statute. For the states that permit DtC shipping of all alcohol, it’s pretty easy to see that cider may also be shipped. For a state that limits DtC shipping to only wine, though, if that state treats cider and wine the same, only then may it be shipped under that state’s DtC wine shipping rules

Similarly, if cider is defined to be regulated as a beer, then cider shipping would be permitted if that state allows for DtC beer shipping. Furthermore, some cider definitions depend on the alcoholic content of the cider, with higher ABV ciders falling under wine regulations and lower ABV ones being treated as beer, or even its own product type entirely. 

Where can you ship hard cider?

Currently, 40 states and the District of Columbia permit DtC cider shipping under their wine shipping laws, as they define wines to be the product of fermenting any and all fruits and fruit juices, not just grapes. The other states, however, have specific restrictions on the shipping of cider.

Several states define ciders as a separate class of beverage alcohol depending on its ABV content. For example, New York defines “cider” as any apple or pear-based fermented beverage alcohol product with an ABV of 8.5% or less, and that is marketed as “cider.” Such products are distinguished from grape-based “wines,” and therefore are unable to be shipped DtC into New York as the state’s current DtC law is restricted only to “wine.” However, if a cidery does produce a cider with an ABV exceeding 8.5%, or they market their product as an “apple wine,” then it could be shipped DtC into New York. 

Other states with similar restrictions on shipping ciders unless they exceed a certain ABV threshold include Georgia (6% ABV), Iowa (6.25% ABV), Maryland (8.5% ABV), South Dakota (10% ABV) and Tennessee (8.5% ABV). 

It is also important to note that many of the states that permit DtC cider shipping require it be done by licensed manufacturers only under the state’s wine shipping rules. 

General DtC cider shipping rules

As with other DtC alcohol shipping requirements, shippers should know that the following general list of rules will apply: 

When looking to expand your DtC cider shipping reach, ensure that you properly interpret how each state’s rules apply to your individual circumstances. Complying with hard cider delivery requirements likely entails working with your legal counsel, compliance software provider or team, or even hearing about a state’s process firsthand from another cider producer.

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