This article summarizes the laws that apply when wine is shipped between Canadian provinces for personal consumption. Please note that other articles apply for the following situations:
This article provides a summary of the shipping laws regarding wine (and other liquor) within Canada. This article is updated frequently and was current as of October 2019. 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.
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 However, in June 2019, the federal government repealed this prohibition entirely in respect of the interprovincial transport or shipment of alcohol. Nevertheless, the various provinces have not embraced the spirit of this reform and have created various provincial laws and barriers to interprovincial "direct to consumer" shipments.
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.
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.
|DTC from Winery?||DTC from Retailer?||Quantity Limits||...||Comments|
|Yes||No||Amount for personal consumption if 100% Cdn wine from winery.
||DTC sales and shipment is permitted only for 100% Canadian wine purchased directly from a winery. BC has also eliminated the limits on alcohol importations from other provinces but only in respect of "in-person" importations (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. The regulation (s.89) makes importation from other provinces "subject to the policies of the Board". The Board's policies are 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.|
|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.
||Section 71 of Manitoba's new law governing both alcohol and cannabis refers to the fact that it is permissible to possess and consume liquor that has been "lawfully imported" into Manitoba. Manitoba's liquor web site indicates that DTC is permissible.|
|No||No||Ontario has recently amended its laws to prohibit the possession of alcohol that has been imported from other provinces unless the alcohol was imported by or under the authority of the LCBO.|
||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 beyond a "single bottle".
|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.
Differences of opinion now exist as to the effect of the various provincial laws in question. Please contact me for more info, questions, comments or a formal legal opinion. I have advised a number of BC wineries on these issues so I can likely provide answers to your questions quickly.