Wine, Food & Drink Q&A

Submit Your Question View More Questions

Licenses Required For Importing And Selling

Good day everybody, I am trying to start a business of importation of spirits from South America. I have found as much information online as I could about the licensing process and requirements, secured the rights with the producer, who is already registered with the FDA, but now I'm facing a dilemma. I know I need an Importer License from the Federal Government. Do I need one from the State Government too? (my business will be based in Florida) I've read conflicting comments on different websites about that, ranging from yes to no to only needing the Federal import license and a Wholesaler license at the State level. Could you help me clear that one please? Thank you
Answer From Expert Roger Bohmrich MW

Alcoholic beverages are controlled at both the federal and state levels. You have learned that you need a basic federal permit permitting your company to import wines and/or spirits. If you have not already done so, you can find out more about this on the website of the relevant agency ( If you only intend to sell your products to wholesalers in Florida or elsewhere, that permit should be sufficient, but you should still verify that some other type of permit is not required in a given state. If you also intend to act as a wholesaler, selling to on- and off-premise accounts (stores, restaurants, etc.), Florida like other states requires a license for the intended purpose. You may first want to consult their website ( where you can view the types of licenses. I would recommend that, before moving forward,you consult a Florida attorney specializing in such matters. As you have discovered, the rules and regulations governing alcoholic beverages can be very confusing!

About Our Expert

Roger has enjoyed a lengthy career in the wine trade as an importer and retailer, and at present he is an educator, speaker and consultant. He set up and managed Millesima USA, a New York merchant affiliated with a leading European company. Previously, he served as senior executive of importers Frederick Wildman & Sons. In recent years, Roger has judged wine competitions in Argentina, Turkey, Portugal, China and the U.S. Roger is one of America's first Masters of Wine.

Visit Roger Bohmrich MW's web site