How To Import Your Own Tequila Brand to the US
Read Time: 5 min.
There are a lot of factors to consider before jumping into the details of the complex tequila import business. Tequila imported from Mexico must undergo strict industry standards and international regulations before successfully making it into the United States market. At Aceves Spirits, we suggest taking the U.S. import part of your business seriously and partnering up with tequila industry experts who have experience with this.
U.S. Regulating Agencies
There are a series of documents and approvals that must be completed to import food and specifically wine, beer, or liquor into any country, but these regulations are particularly stringent with U.S. imports. Alcoholic beverages fall under three different regulating agencies, each with its own unique requirements.
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) requires its own set of forms and permits. Many of these forms are required by the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act) which, since 1935, has existed to ensure an open and fair marketplace for alcohol import and distribution in the U.S. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has an extensive entry submission process. This governing body works to confirm that food and drink sold in the U.S. are safe for consumption. Alcohol brands face specific requirements around ingredient labeling and transparency.
Legal requirements to star 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.
As an importer, you’ll also need to comply with the FDA requirements of the Bioterrorism Act of 2002 and register with the FDA, providing prior notice of goods to be imported as outlined on the FDA website. Meanwhile, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Labels and Certificate of Origin will be required for import of alcoholic beverages in order to clear U.S. customs. Customs will require the payment of the excise tax and import fees, and submission of the paperwork you received from both the TTB and FDA. In order to assess taxes and duty, you will need an invoice for each individual import shipment along with the entry form completed including entry summary.
Labeling Tequila Imported From Mexico
We suggest having all paperwork completed and in place prior to bringing goods into the United States. The first step for tequila brands is obtaining an importers permit. Once this is received, you can then apply for the approval of your product labels. The labels may need to be pre-approved by the Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to obtain a Certificate of Label Approval (COLA).
You can apply for the COLA online on the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau website. Depending on the alcoholic beverage you may need to submit the formula for review, testing, and approval. Each unique product must have an approved label for distilled spirits, wine, or malt beverages.
Federal labeling regulations will require you to prove your tequila’s authenticity to obtain a certificate of origin for certain wines and distilled spirits that states: 1) the country where the alcohol is produced, and 2) the age of the alcohol as well as the percent of alcohol in the beverage.
If the product is a tequila imported from Mexico, the label must read, “Imported by,” followed by the name of your company and then approved by the TTB for each unique product you plan on importing. Without this label approval, not only will you violate the TTB regulations but U.S. Customs will reject the entry.
Contact Aceves Spirits
As we’ve stated, you shouldn’t trust the U.S. import of your tequila brand to those without the proper level of experience. Reach out to Aceves Spirits and let us know how we can help with your project. Our generations of expertise in tequila development extend to the regulatory processes involved in import and distribution of tequila.