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Can I Bring Alcohol into Illinois?


You cannot bring more than minimal amounts of alcohol into the State of Illinois. Illinois has placed many restrictions on the importation of alcohol. These restrictions do not only apply to businesses, but also apply to individual Illinois residents. The Federal law gives Illinois full authority to regulate the flow of alcohol into the State.

Most people think of the 21st Amendment to the Constitution simply as the amendment that repealed prohibition in 1933. While this is true, the 21st amendment also granted the states the right to regulate the transportation of alcohol. Section 2 of the 21st amendment states as follows:

“The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.”

Another way of saying this is that no one can bring alcohol into a state unless doing so complies with the laws of that state.

Illinois Law

In 2005, the US Supreme Court ruled, in the case of Granholm v. Heald, that if wineries within a state could sell directly to consumers than out-of-state wineries should also be allowed to sell to those same consumers. Further, the Court held that any state laws which did not allow this were unconstitutional restrictions on the free flow of interstate commerce.

In order to comply with Granholm v. Heald, Illinois created a license that allows wineries to ship directly to Illinois customers. Under Illinois law, and out-of-state winery with this license “may ship, for personal use and not for resale, not more than 12 cases of wine per year to any resident of this State who is 21 years of age or older.” 235 ILCS 5/6-29. This license is available only for the shipment of out-of-state wine and does not apply to beer or spirits. Further, there is no similar license that allows any out-of-state shipments of beer or spirits.

Personal Importation of Alcohol

The restrictions on shipping alcohol into Illinois not only apply to manufacturers and wholesalers, but to individuals as well. Illinois regulations allow an individual to bring in only 1 gallon of alcoholic beverages per year. For any alcohol beyond that amount, the individual must obtain express permission from the Illinois Liquor Control Commission. However, the Commission will not grant a license to import more than 12 bottles of wine into Illinois.


Illinois law governing the shipment and distribution of alcohol is extremely complex. If you have any questions regarding the transportation of liquor or any related licensing issues, it is important that you contact a qualified Chicago liquor license attorney to discuss your situation. The experienced liquor license attorneys at Hays Firm LLC are available to assist you. Please feel free to contact us anytime with your questions.

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