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Extensive Unlawful Purchases Found with Direct to Consumer (DTC) Alcohol Shipping Sales

January 26, 2024

Extensive Unlawful Purchases Found with Direct to Consumer (DTC) Alcohol Shipping Sales

Department of Liquor and Lottery Completes DTC Shipping Pilot Compliance Program


Berlin, VT- The Department of Liquor and Lottery (DLL) has published findings from a Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) Shipping Pilot Compliance Program that revealed unlawful purchases and deliveries into Vermont. Funded by the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association (NABCA), the pilot program found that of the 116 attempted online purchases of beverage alcohol, 40 shipments were delivered and received by DLL. None of those 40 shipments were delivered completely lawfully.


The reasons for the DTC shipment sales not being lawful include not being delivered by licensed entity, shipments not being reported by licensed entities, failure to request identification. Only 50% of the alcohol products received were shipped by a licensed entity. Of those, only 20% reported their shipment to DLL. For two shipments, a minor received the alcohol beverage shipment without the common carrier asking for identification.


The pilot program was designed in response to the increase in illegal DTC shipping activities in recent years. Results of the pilot program will serve as a baseline survey of lawful shipments of beverage alcohol to consumers in Vermont and will inform DLL of the necessary regulatory framework should DTC shipping of spirits be permitted in Vermont.


Based on established techniques used in ascertaining the illegal DTC sales of tobacco products, DLL developed the pilot compliance program to examine both licensed and unlicensed DTC shipping of beverage alcohol activity in Vermont. This pilot program involved detailed online market-place surveillance to identify retailers purporting to ship beverage alcohol products into Vermont, as well a review of DLL’s licensing database to determine malt and vinous retailers that permitted to engage in DTC sales and shipping.


DLL is using the results of the pilot compliance program to educate the public and remind licensees that DTC shipping of beverage alcohol is only lawful when it comports to the following sections of V.S.A. Title 7:

§ 277. Malt, vinous, and ready-to-drink spirits beverage consumer shipping license

§ 279. Consumer and retail shipping licenses; general requirements

§ 280. Common carriers; requirements

§ 281. Prohibitions


Please contact Charles Martin, DLL Director of Communications and Legislative Affairs, at with questions.