Have the Grapes Really Been Freed? Part 2

Published in Orchard and Vine Magazine on: June 10, 2014

As the tourist season picks up, a review of the provincial laws regarding inter-provincial wine importation seems appropriate.  I have previously written on the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act (“IILA”) which dates back to 1928 and the 2012 personal consumption amendment. I questioned whether the grapes had really been freed.

You may recall that until the summer of 2012, the IILA made it illegal for you to bring wine from one province into another, whether for your own personal consumption or otherwise. The 2012 amendment created an exemption for the importation of wine into a province “in quantities and as permitted by the laws” of that destination province.  To be clear the IILA remains good law, except a personal consumption exemption has now been created.

The exemption only applies if the person bringing wine into a province complies with that province’s laws.  So, it becomes important to know what the laws of a province permit you to do, so when you are travelling home or on vacation with wine, you know if you fall within the exemption.

British Columbia

BC’s Liquor Possession Regulation permits you to bring wine from another province into BC for your own personal consumption as long as you are carrying it with you and the amount does not exceed 9L.  However, wine entirely grown and produced in another province and purchased from producing winery for your own consumption can be brought into BC without limit, whether you carry it with you or you have it directly shipped from the winery.  

Alberta

The Gaming and Liquor Regulation specifically allows for wine to be brought into Alberta from other provinces for personal use or consumption without limitation on quantity subject to Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission policy. The Commission has set policy that wine must accompany the individual. The requirement to have wine “brought back to Alberta with you” does not permit direct shipping.

Saskatchewan

The Alcohol Control Regulations 2013 state that a person may personally bring up to 9L of wine into Saskatchewan. Again, direct shipping is not permitted.

Manitoba

The Liquor and Gaming Control Act does not prohibit a person from possessing wine that was lawfully imported into Manitoba. Neither limitations on quantity nor personal accompaniment are specified. The provincial government has stated there are no restrictions on the amount of wine you can bring into the province for personal consumption, whether on your person or through direct shipping.

Ontario

Like Manitoba, the Liquor Licence Act states it is legal to possess wine that is “legally imported” into Ontario without specifics on quantity or personal accompaniment. The Liquor Commission Board has created policy that wine imported from other provinces must be by personal possession and up to 9L.

Quebec

There is no provincial law that regulates the inter-provincial shipment of wine at this time.  An Act Respecting Offences Relating to Alcoholic Beverages makes it an offence to transport wine not purchased from the government or an authorized vendor within Quebec.  Importing wine personally or by direct shipping appears contrary to Quebec law.

Nova Scotia

The Liquor Control Act allows the transport of wine that has been “brought” into Nova Scotia from other provinces in an amount limited by regulation.  Currently, there is no regulation setting permissible quantities.  Importing wine personally appears permissible but direct shipping would likely not be permissible.

New Brunswick

The Liquor Control Act allows a person to possess one bottle of wine that has been purchased outside of NB from a liquor board or similar agency.  The legislation does not specifically mention purchases from wineries or vendors authorized by an appropriate government agency so it is questionable whether wine purchased from a winery and brought into NB would fall within the exemption.

Newfoundland

The Liquor Limitation Order does permit a person to bring wine from other provinces into Newfoundland to a maximum of 1.14L on one occasion. In the writer’s opinion, Newfoundland’s law likely does not extend to direct shipments.

Prince Edward Island

The Liquor Control Act permits a person to “import” wine from other provinces into PEI to a maximum of 9 L for personal consumption. The use of the word “imported” in the legislation can be interpreted to include both personal accompaniment and direct shipping.  However, the PEI Liquor Control Commission has released a policy statement advising that the wine must be carried in your personal or checked luggage.

The above is a brief overview of the certain provincial requirements for the IILA personal consumption exemption and are provided for informational purposes alone.  Please speak with your lawyer to confirm the law in these jurisdictions and seek advice of the application of the law to your personal circumstances.

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