How Does Tequila Import and Export Work?

Read Time: 4 min.

If you’re starting or investing in a new tequila brand, it’s important that you understand just how all the legal requirements for logistics and distribution work. This can be quite a bewildering process for those who have little to no experience in the tequila industry.

In this article we’ll discuss the logistics of importing and exporting tequila, including working with a distributor and importer as well as registering your brand properly. We’ll also include our recommendations based on generations of experience in producing and distributing tequila brands internationally.

International Tequila Distribution

Since tequila officially became the intellectual property of Mexico in 1974, importers across the globe have sought ways to source their agave spirits directly from their original birthplace and distribute in their own countries. Depending on which country the tequila brand is being sold in, there may exist vastly different requirements from the associated regulating agencies.

Before it can ever be distributed and sold, the tequila brand must first pass through a series of registration requirements. The agencies responsible for regulating these include the Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT) and the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI.) These organizations ensure that the product ingredients are correct in order to be labeled tequila, that there is no copyright infringement in the brand name or identity, and that the tequila brand is transparent about its business and operations.

Tequila Distributors and Importers

Once all of this legal and regulatory work is complete, the remainder of the distribution relies on having the right business relationships based on the brand’s goals. Two critical partnerships are with a distributor and with an importer.

Legal Requirements To Start A New Tequila Brand In The US

If you’re looking into how to make your own liquor label, you’ve probably already been considering the legal requirements. If you want to ultimately sell your product in the United States — which is a great idea, as we’ll explore below — there are different legal implications surrounding the import of alcohol.

Having a deal with a distributor that has the license to distribute in multiple states typically gives tequila brands the ability to distribute in those specific states, based on their individual laws and retail requirements. Usually, the distributor is the one who owns the warehouse the product is going to be received. So if a brand of tequila is being imported to the United States from Mexico, the distributor will receive those shipments and then distribute to bars, restaurants, individual consumers, liquor stores and other retailers, or whomever the buyer will be.

Most of the time, an importer is the same company that distributes, but that also holds the importers’ license. The importer is responsible for ensuring that all customs laws are met for the origin and destination countries, and that all paperwork is filled out appropriately for shipments. The importer is a huge asset in the logistics process, but comes with a cost. An importer fee may run roughly parallel to a distributor fee per product unit.

Assistance From a Logistics Supplier

Part of the logistics process is to have the brand registered in the United States corresponding to both the importers’ and distributors’ requests. Because of these details, it can be extremely helpful to have a custom agency to help with them.

We recommend that you consider working with a custom agency, which is usually a logistics company supplier that can help you with registration. We also recommend that the logistics supplier has previous experience within the spirits industry, in order to make the process can be more agile and fluent.

Working With Aceves

It’s important that you partner with a company that has the know-how to execute the logistics process correctly. Don’t waste time or resources on working with many different vendors and trying to navigate the industry yourself.

Aceves Spirits can provide you with the expertise and recommendations you need, from the correct labeling process to all the legal requirements to effectively transport your products. Let us know what step of the process you’re in and we will help you to find the best way to manage the logistics of your project.