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Consumer FAQs about Alcoholic Beverages

What is the minimum age to buy or possess alcoholic beverages?

21 years of age. See Alcoholic Beverages Article, 1-401 and Criminal Law, CL 10-114.

What were the previous legal drinking ages in Maryland and when were they raised?

1972 - Raised to 21 years of age.
1973 - Lowered to 18 years of age in Montgomery and Prince George's County
1974 - Lowered to 18 years of age for the entire state.
1983 - Raised to 21 years of age.

What is the age limit for a person to serve and sell alcohol in a retail alcohol beverage establishment?

In general, a person under the age of 21 may not be employed in the serving or selling of alcoholic beverages. However, counties dictate the age requirement, so this age may vary based on the county where the retail establishment resides. See Alcoholic Beverages Article 3-503 for specifics.

What is the age limit for a person to work in a retail alcohol beverage establishment?

A person must be at least 18 years of age to stock shelves and perform other related duties, as long as they do not serve or sell alcohol. See Alcoholic Beverages Article 3-503 and Criminal Law, CL 10-114.

In what county can I buy alcohol at a grocery store?

Talbot County is the only county where you can purchase beer and wine at a grocery store. Exceptions do exist in the state. See Alcoholic Beverages Article 30-901.

What are the local county laws to include hours of sale, liability laws, age of sale?

See Alcoholic Beverages Article Title 9-33.

What constitutes an alcoholic beverage?

An alcoholic beverage is defined as a product fit for beverage purposes and contains one-half of 1 percent or more of alcohol by volume. This includes beer, distilled spirits and wine.

While I'm traveling on vacation, how much alcohol can I have shipped back to me?

Only wineries holding a direct wine shippers permit can ship their own wine to Maryland consumers. Internationally, no alcohol may be shipped back to you including wine. See Alcoholic Beverages Articles 6-327.

How much alcohol can I bring back with me when I return home from vacation?

Up to one gallon (4 quarts) per trip is legal. One quart per trip is tax exempt. The remaining three quarts is taxed in Maryland. Only two quarts are tax exempt per calendar month.

See Tax-General Article, Section 5-104 and Administrative Release AB-1.

I am active military returning to Maryland. Can I bring alcohol into the state?

Yes. The alcohol is considered a household good. You must obtain a Change of Domicile Permit. There is no limit on the amount of alcohol shipping into the state.

How much alcoholic beverage can be imported into Maryland?

From within the United States: one quart, tax-free.
From Guam, American Samoa, and U.S. Virgin Islands: one gallon, tax-free.
From outside the United States: one gallon; one quart, tax-free (the remaining three quarts are taxed.)

What is the current excise tax for alcohol?

Distilled Spirits: $1.50 per gallon. (Raised in 1955 from $1.25 per gallon.)
Wine: $ .40 per gallon.(Raised in 1972 from $.20 per gallon.)
Beer, Cider, and Mead: $ .09 per gallon. (Raised in 1972 from $.03 per gallon.)
Five 750 ml. bottles equals one gallon.

Can I purchase alcohol (beer, wine or liquor) over the Internet?

Yes, Wine, only from a Direct Wine Shipper that holds a Maryland Permit to do so. 

Can I make alcoholic beverages for home consumption?

Distilled spirits may only be manufactured on licensed premises. Beer and wine may be manufactured on private premises for personal use, not for sale. The Comptroller is authorized to issue a beer and wine facility permit for individuals to make beer and wine at a commercial facility for home consumption.

What is considered an alcoholic beverage?

An alcoholic beverage is defined as having of 1 percent of alcohol by volume or greater. This equals 1 proof.

What is a beer?

Beer is a brewed beverage with a minimum of 1 percent alcohol.

What is a Flavored Malt Beverage (FMB)?

It is a beer-based product with distilled spirits added. It is taxed as a beer.

What is an unfortified wine?

It is a fermented beverage.

What is a fortified wine?

It is a fermented beverage with grain neutral spirits added. It is taxed as a wine.

What is hard cider?

, It is a fermented beverage which is derived primarily from apples, apple concentrate and water, pears, or pear concentrate and water; and contains no other fruit product but contains at least one-half of 1% and less than 8.5% of alcohol by volume. See Alcoholic Beverages Article 1-101.

What is whiskey?

A spirit beverage distilled from malted barley and other grains, and then matured in oak.

What is bourbon whiskey?

An American whiskey distilled from a mash of at least 50 percent corn, with rye, barley and other grains, then matured in a new, charred-oak barrel.

What is Scotch whiskey?

A term applied to whiskey that is distilled and matured in Scotland.

What is single malt Scotch whiskey?

Malt whiskey produced in a single distillery in Scotland.

What is a blended Scotch whiskey?

A mix of malt whiskies and neutral grain whiskies produced from many distilleries.

What is blended whiskey?

It is malted-barley-based whiskeys from many distilleries, combined with a blander whiskeys made from neutral grains.

What is single malt whiskey?

It is whiskeys with distinct characteristics, produced and matured by one distillery.

Links for Alcohol and Tobacco Tax
Taxpayer Assistance
Frequently Asked Questions
Business Tax FAQs
Alcohol and Tobacco Tax
  Alcoholic Beverages FAQs
  Consumer FAQs about Tobacco
  Consumer FAQs about Alcoholic Beverages
  Industry FAQs about Alcohol and Tobacco
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