Requirements for Alcohol Importers
TTB has approved your application for an Alcohol Importer. You must keep all approval documents readily available for examination by TTB officials.
The following information explains the requirements you must meet to maintain your business.
For information on duties, visit the Duty Rates page at the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website. For more information on excise taxes, please see our tax and fee rates page.
Federal regulations require every importer to keep daily records of both physical receipt and disposition of distilled spirits, beer, and wine. These records are to be kept at your place of business and are to show all information required by 27 CFR 27.133.You are not required to submit reports relating to such transactions unless we specifically request that you do so.
You must report to us any change in the name, address, ownership, management, or control of the business without delay. If you filed your original application on paper, and haven't requested that your data be migrated to our Permits Online system, you should file these amendments on the TTB forms described in the applicable regulations. If you filed your original application through Permits Online, you should also electronically file your amendments in Permits Online. For more information about changes to your permit see the regulations at 27 CFR 1.40-44.
- Change in Location Select this amendment if you will be moving your business operations to another location within the same state. If moving to another state you will need to file an original application.
- Change in Mailing Address
Select this amendment if there has been a change to where you will receive mail.
- Change in Permit Address – USPS
Select this amendment if your address was changed by the United States Postal Service but no physical move has taken place.
- Add/Remove Signing Authority
Select this amendment if you will be making any changes to the existing signing authority on file. You will be required to attach the appropriate documentation showing where the authorization is granted.
- Add/Remove Power of Attorney
Select this amendment if adding or removing individuals from outside your company with the power to sign and/or act on behalf of the company. When adding a Power of Attorney you can scan and upload your form into Permits Online. Download TTB F 5000.8 [PDF].
- Change in Operations
Change in Operations Amendments are no longer necessary. All existing wholesaler and importer permits are now inclusive of wine, beer and distilled spirits commodities and will not require an amendment to either add or remove commodity types. New permits issued in our Permits Online system will automatically reflect all three commodities.
- Change in Business Name
Select this amendment if there has been a change to your legal business entity's name. You will need to submit a copy of your amended Articles showing the name change.
- Change in Control
A change in actual or legal control occurs when there are changes in stock ownership, LLC membership ownership, or possibly major changes in the corporate officers or directors of a corporation. In such situations, the legal business entity which operated the business in the past continues to operate the subject business. In other words, the same legal entity remains in existence which continues to operate the business in question.
If adding a new person an Owner Officer Information Application must be completed through Permits Online if originally approved through Permits Online.
- Change in Officer, Director, Member, or Stockholder/Interest
Select this amendment when there is a change in the officers, directors, members and managers, as well as any stockholders/interest holders who hold 10 percent or more. An Owner Officer Information Application must be completed for each new person through Permits Online (if originally approved through Permits Online).
- Termination of Business
Select this amendment if you are discontinuing business.
The regulations for importers can be found at Title 27 Part 1 for the basic permit requirements and Part 27 for the regulations to import distilled spirits, wine, and beer.
27 CFR Part 1, Basic Permit Requirements under the Federal Alcohol Administration Act, Non-Industrial Use of Distilled Spirits and Wine, Bulk Sales and Bottling of Distilled Spirits
27 CFR Part 12, Foreign Non-Generic Names of Geographic Significance Used in the Designation of Wines
27 CFR Part 27, Importation of Distilled Spirits, Wines, and Beer
The importer must also obtain a TTB-issued Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) for each unique product/label.
- COLAs Online – Electronic Filing
To obtain a COLA, importers must file an Application for and Certification/Exemption of Label/Bottle Approval with TTB’s Alcohol Labeling and Formulation Division (ALFD). The process may be done electronically through COLAs Online (recommended) or by submitting a paper copy of the form (see address below). Download Application for Certificate/Exemption of Label/Bottle Approval, form TTB F 5100.31 [PDF].
- Where to File using a Paper Form:
Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
Alcohol Labeling and Formulation Division
1310 G Street, NW, Box 12
Washington, DC 20005
For specific questions having to do with labeling, please contact the Alcohol Labeling and Formulation Division at 866-927-2533, or see our Labeling page for more information.
We sometimes require you to submit your formula as part of the COLA process, depending on the product to be imported. Formula approval, which you can do using Formulas Online, includes a review of your product's ingredients and your production process. We may also require a product sample for lab analysis. Learn which products require formula approval.
For more information on formula approval and laboratory analysis of samples, see Industry Circular 2007-4.
If you are an importer of natural wine produced after December 31, 2004, you must comply with certification requirements under the Miscellaneous Trade and Technical Corrections Act of 2004 to ensure that the practices and procedures you use to produce the imported wine constitute proper cellar treatment.
- Certification Requirements
Certification may consist of:
- A statement from the producing country’s government or government-approved entity having oversight or control of enological practices. This form of certification includes the results of a laboratory analysis of the wine performed by either a government laboratory or a laboratory certified by the government of the producing country.
- A statement from the importer, that is, a "self-certification." See Q&A #12 of our Certification Requirements Q&As for more information on this certification method and who may self-certify.
For some grape wines imported from countries with which the Unites States has an enological practices agreement, no certification is required. Please refer to our list of excepted countries for a description of the excepted wines.
Importers must ensure that the producer of the alcohol beverage is registered with the FDA and provide FDA with advance notification of an importation. FDA administers these requirements which are part of the Bioterrorism Act of 2002. You may also visit the FDA’s Bioterrorism Act website for more information.
There are additional responsibilities and requirements that you may have to meet including state laws.
- TTB personnel have the right of entry into your premises.
- Please ensure you are in compliance with your State and local authorities before commencing operations (including building/use permits and zoning requirements).
- If you intend to sell your products in any other state (other than the state in which you are applying), you must contact each state individually because they all have different shipping laws. See our direct shipping Web page for more information.