Amendment to the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act

June 2012

The purpose of this notice is to provide information and clarification on the impact of the recent amendment to the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act contained in Bill C-311, An Act to Amend the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act (interprovincial importation of wine for personal use). The Bill received Royal Assent on June 28, 2012, and became effective on that date.

The taxation and regulation of wine are the responsibility of both the federal and provincial governments. As such it is important to note that the amendment to the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act without appropriate provincial legislative or regulatory authorization will not automatically permit individuals to move wine interprovincially or to place orders with wineries by telephone or Internet.

What is the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act?

The Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act (IILA) is a federal statute governing the interprovincial transportation and international importation and release of intoxicating liquors. The IILA was enacted in 1928 at the request of the provinces after the repeal of their liquor prohibition laws. This legislation controls and restricts the movement of liquor from one province to another, as well as its importation into Canada. By requiring that importations be made by provincial liquor authorities, the IILA provides provinces with the umbrella of federal authority to control imports into their jurisdictions.

Importations of alcohol into the territories are governed by the federal enabling statute for each territory.

The amendment

Subsection 3(2) of the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act is amended by adding the following exception to the restrictions contained in subsection 3(1):

(h) the importation of wine from a province by an individual, if the individual brings the wine or causes it to be brought into another province, in quantities and as permitted by the laws of the latter province, for his or her personal consumption, and not for resale or other commercial use.

Overview of the amendment

The amendment removes the federal barrier prohibiting individuals from moving wine from one province to another when it is for their personal use. While the federal impediment has been removed, the amendment also provides the authority to provinces to set limits on personal importations of wine.

The provincial authorities will include the ability to set limits relating to:

The amendment does not affect the federal or provincial authority to tax wine. This means that it does not create an exemption from federal or provincial duties, fees, taxes or mark-ups, etc.

The IILA and the amendment thereto cover all wine, including wine made from grapes, apples, berries, honey and even dandelions.

Impact on federal regulations for wineries

There are no changes to either the federal taxation or regulation of wine. There will be no change to the reporting of wine transactions by licensees under the federal Excise Act, 2001.

Impact on provincial regulations for wineries

The amendment does not affect the provincial regulation of wine, but respects a province’s jurisdiction over the possession, movement and sale of wine. It also provides the provinces with the authority to introduce and regulate the personal importation of wine into their jurisdictions.

Impact on territorial regulations for wineries

The amendment does not affect the territorial regulation of wine, as the IILA does not govern the importation or movement of wine into the territories.

Impact on foreign wine

There is no change for the importation of foreign wine into Canada. Other countries continue to have access to the Canadian market for non-commercial shipments of wine in accordance with the Customs Act, the IILA and agreements between provinces and the Canada Border Services Agency.

Once legally imported into Canada, foreign wine will be provided the same interprovincial treatment as domestic wine, in accordance with provincial requirements.

Further information

For more information on this subject, contact your nearest regional excise duty office. A list of regional excise duty offices is available in Excise Duty Memorandum EDM1.1.2, Regional Excise Duty Offices.

The Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act is available at http://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/I-3/index.html. The legislative amendment can be found in An Act to Amend the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act (interprovincial importation of wine for personal use) at http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Docid=5151840&file=4.

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