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Importing Alcohol for Trade Shows

Samples of alcohol beverages imported strictly for use at trade shows and/or for soliciting orders may, under certain conditions, be imported without a certificate of label approval (COLA).  Importers of such samples may apply for a waiver from the COLA requirements from TTB in the form of a letter request.

The letter must include:

  • The specific type and quantity of each alcohol beverage.  "Type" for wine means identification as "red wine", "white wine", "sparkling wine", and/or identification with a varietal if the wine is so labeled; for distilled spirits, the type means, for example, "rum," "brandy," "vodka," etc., as appropriate; for malt beverages, type means "beer," "ale," "porter," etc., as appropriate.
  • The country of origin of each product
  • The brand name of each product
  • The purpose for importing the samples (if for a specific event, include dates and location)
  • The Federal Importer's Basic Permit number
  • The importer's name and address, as shown on the Federal basic permit
  • The physical signature of an individual authorized on the importer's basic permit with signature authority for the importer.  Please note that an electronic signature is not sufficient.

The letter must also include a statement that the following conditions will be met:

  • The products will be imported by the holder of a Federal Importer's Basic Permit
  • All applicable taxes and duties will be paid
  • A sticker will be affixed to every container (bottle or box) which reads, "For Trade Show (or Sample) Purposes Only – Not for Sale"
  • A label will be affixed to every container which bears the Health Warning Statement in accordance with 27 CFR Part 16
  • In the case of wine, an additional label will be affixed which reads, "Contains Sulfites"
  • The products indicated in this letter will be in compliance with the labeling requirements above prior to the product arriving at the U.S. port of entry.

Download a template of this letter (MS Word)

Last updated: January 4, 2020
Maintained by: Office of Communications