- Written by Mark Hicken Mark Hicken
- Category: Shipping, Border, Import, Export Laws Shipping, Border, Import, Export Laws
- Published: 09 August 2004 09 August 2004
This article provides a summary of the shipping laws regarding wine (and other liquor) within Canada. This article is updated frequently. However, the laws in this area are changing rapidly so please contact me (or your own lawyer) in order to ensure that you have the latest information. If you are interested in wine shipping issues related to bringing wine from a foreign country to Canada, please see this article: Bringing Wine to Canada After a Trip.
The shipping of any alcohol from one province into another province was previously prohibited by a federal law (which stems from the prohibition era) called the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act (Canada). However, on June 28, 2012 that law was amended by Bill C-311. While the general prohibition remains in place, the Bill created a national personal use exemption for wine subject to applicable provincial laws. In June 2014, the federal government also amended the law to extend the personal use exemption to include the interprovincial shipment of beer and spirits. That amendment was effective June 19, 2014. However, the various provinces have not embraced the spirit of these changes and have created various barriers to interprovincial "direct to consumer" shipments.
The following chart summarizes my views on the ability of consumers to receive "direct to consumer" interprovincial shipments of wine under the laws in the various provinces.
NOTE: the Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. Comeau was released in April 2018. Generally, the court upheld provincial legal restrictions on the inter-provincial purchase/import of alcohol as long as they are connected to a legitimate provincial objective other than restricting trade. This decision directly affects the issues discussed on this page. Legal advice may be required on the implications of this decision.
|DTC from Winery?||DTC from Retailer?||Quantity Limits||...||Comments|
|Yes||No||Amount for personal consumption if 100% Cdn wine from winery.
||OK for Canadian wine purchased from a winery. Imported wine has different rules: subject to 9 liter cumulative quantity limit and only for "in-person" importation (no shipment).
|Unclear||Unclear||Amount for personal consumption.
||Alberta law says that adults may "import" liquor from other provinces (and other countries) in amounts determined by regulation. It is my view that the only reasonable interpretation of the word "import" as used in these laws (see s.86 of the Gaming & Liquor Act and s.89 of the Gaming & Liquor Regulation) includes both in person transport and direct shipment. However, Alberta amended the regulation (s.89), to make importation from other provinces "subject to the policies of the Board" which appear to be set out in section 3.27 of this manual and which restrict importation to amounts that are personally transported (i.e. not shipped). It is not clear whether this "policy statement" has a valid basis in Alberta law since it may not be consistent with the language in the Act and Regulation. If it does have a valid basis, then the Comeau decision would likely validate the restrictions. However, the Comeau case dealt with provincial laws, not policies, so the situation is unclear.|
|Yes (from BC only)||No||9 liters.
||Saskatchewan is open for DTC shipments of wine and spirits from BC only (not other provinces). An authorization (for the customer) is required from the SLGA which is valid for one year. Maximum quantity per shipment is 9 litres (one case) but multiple shipments are allowed. The customer is required to submit markup to the SLGA upon receipt of the shipment. The markup for wine is $5.25 per 750 ml bottle. See details here: Direct Shipment to Saskatchewan.
|Yes||Yes||Amount for personal consumption.
|Unclear||Unclear||Amount for personal consumption.
||Ontario's laws are silent on the issue of interprovincial importation of alcohol. However, the LCBO has issued a "policy statement" that disagrees with this and says that only "in person transport" is allowed. It is not clear whether this "policy statement" has a valid basis in Ontario law. If it does, then the Comeau decision would likely validate the restrictions. However, the Comeau case dealt with provincial laws, not policies, so the situation is unclear.
||Provincial law restricts transport of wine not purchased from liquor board within Quebec. Regulations have been issued which allow the importation of alcohol from other provinces but they only permit 9 liters of wine per person and only if it has been personally transported (no direct to consumer shipment).
||It is my view that the only reasonable interpretation of the word "import" in the amended legislation includes both in person transport and direct shipment. The PEI liquor board is stating that it is not open for shipment, only for "in-person transport". In my view, this is not a reasonable interpretation of PEI law.
|No||No||The recent decision in R. v. Comeau upheld New Brunswick's provincial laws that restrict its residents from purchasing and importing wine from outside the province.
|Yes||No||OK for Canadian wine purchased from a winery. Nova Scotia announced it is open for DTC wine shipments on June 25, 2015.
||Unreasonably low quantity limit. Use of word "bringing" may exclude shipment. Note that the NL liquor board charged FedEx with shipping BC wine from a winery to a customer in Newfoundland. The case did not proceed after the defence lawyer made an argument that NL laws could not reach a federally regulated courier such as FedEx.