Can You Return Alcohol in California? Other States? Answered

Whether or not you can return alcohol depends on the store and where you live. Stores are not required to accept alcohol returns, and, in some states, it’s illegal to do so. But in states where it is legal, you may be able to return alcohol to specific stores. It is also worth noting that military bases and Indian reservations can have stricter rules for the sale and return of alcohol. For more details on alcohol return policies and state laws, see below.

Alcohol Return Policies at Major Vendors

We contacted a few major retailers, including ABC liquor stores, AmazonFresh, Costco, Sam’s Club, Target, Total Wine, and Walmart, to ask about their alcohol return policies. We’ve outlined the store policies below.

ABC Liquor Stores

Store policies will depend on state and local laws. The designation “ABC” on a liquor store stands for “Alcoholic Beverage Control” or “Alcoholic Beverage Commission.” In 17 states, known as “control states,” alcoholic beverages are tightly controlled by the state agency. Some control states have a total monopoly on alcohol sales, while others allow some beverages — like beer and wine — to be sold by privately-owned stores.

Note: while Maryland is not a control state, Montgomery County in Maryland is a control county.

AmazonFresh

Grocery items, including alcohol, are not returnable. You may be able to get a refund if the item arrives damaged or is otherwise undrinkable. Refunds are issued up to 30 days after delivery.

Costco

You can return alcohol to stores where it’s legal to do so. Costco does not typically require you to bring a receipt to return an item, but some local laws only allow alcohol returns by the original purchaser, so you may need to bring your receipt. Contact your local Costco for details.

Sam’s Club

You can return alcohol with a receipt to the store where you bought it, where it is legal to do so. Without a receipt, you may be able to get store credit. Contact your local Sam’s Club for details.

Target

If it is legal in your state, you can return alcohol only to stores that sell alcohol and only during hours of alcohol sales, a customer service representative said. For example, if your state prohibits alcohol sales on Sundays, you cannot return alcohol on a Sunday.

Total Wine

You may be able to return alcohol, depending on your location. Total Wine stores in California, Georgia, and Wisconsin will only accept returns if the item was purchased in error or it is unfit for consumption. In other states, you should be able to return alcohol to the store where you bought it, where it is legal to do so. For online orders, contact Total Wine customer service for instructions.

Walmart

Unopened alcohol can only be returned with a receipt to the store where it was purchased, where it is legal to do so. Contact your local Walmart for details. Also see our research on alcohol sales hours at Walmart.

Alcohol Return Laws by State

We’ve outlined alcohol return laws by state below. Keep in mind that state laws can change, and state agencies can change the way they enforce the law.

Note: Even in states where returns are legal, stores are not required to accept alcohol returns.

Alabama

Alcohol sales are regulated by the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control board, which operates ABC liquor stores. Private stores in some areas are allowed to sell beer, wine, and liquor. Alabama laws vary by city and county.

Alaska

Alaska retailers are not allowed to buy alcohol from anyone except a licensed dealer. Some stores may consider this a ban on returns.

Arizona

Arizona retailers may accept alcohol returns at their discretion.

Arkansas

An Arkansas state law banning purchase from an unauthorized seller was repealed in 2011. While this may allow for returns, Arkansas laws vary by city and county.

California

Returns are only allowed in California if the item is spoiled or unfit for consumption.

Colorado

Colorado state regulations permit retailers to make returns to wholesalers and require unused products from charity events to be returned. Customer returns aren’t specified, but they appear to be allowed; Cheers Liquor Mart in Colorado Springs accepts alcohol returns.

Connecticut

The unauthorized sale of alcohol without a permit is illegal in Connecticut. Some stores may consider this a ban on returns.

Delaware

Customers can return alcohol in Delaware if it is spoiled or tainted. Organizers of licensed gatherings where alcohol is sold (i.e., a charity event) may return unopened bottles within 30 days.

Florida

Florida state regulations allow vendors to return unopened alcohol to the distributor. Customer returns aren’t specified, but they appear to be allowed; ABC Fine Wine and Liquor accepts returns within 30 days.

Georgia

Alcohol returns in Georgia are not allowed. Some stores may make an exception if the product is unfit for consumption or was purchased in error.

Hawaii

There are no laws or regulations in Hawaii prohibiting alcohol returns.

Idaho

Idaho is a control state. Private stores can sell beer and wine, but hard liquor is only sold at state-run locations. There are no specific provisions about alcohol returns in Idaho statutes.

Illinois

Retailers are permitted to return alcohol for “ordinary and usual commercial reasons.” Customer returns are allowed in some locations; representatives from ABC Liquor Mart in Carbondale and Family Beer and Liquor in East Dubuque confirmed they accept returns of unopened bottles.

Indiana

Alcohol purchases from anyone without a permit are not allowed in Indiana. Some stores may consider this a ban on returns.

Iowa

Iowa retailers are allowed to make returns to wholesalers. Customer returns aren’t specified in Iowa’s regulations.

Kansas

The official handbook for Kansas retailers states that alcohol can be returned by customers within 24 hours if it is “damaged or deteriorated in quality.”

Kentucky

There are no Kentucky state laws on alcohol returns, but Kentucky has “wet” and “dry” cities and counties, so laws vary by location.

Louisiana

Unused alcohol may be returned after special events in Louisiana with a temporary liquor permit. Wholesalers may also accept alcohol returns for ordinary and usual commercial reasons like spoilage, breakage, leaks, etc. Customer returns aren’t specified in Louisiana laws.

Maine

Alcohol can only be returned within 10 days with a receipt.

Maryland

Montgomery County in Maryland is a control county. In Montgomery County, you can return unopened alcohol with a receipt to a state-run store. Other Maryland laws may vary.

Massachusetts

Alcohol returns are allowed in Massachusetts for “ordinary and usual commercial reason.”

Michigan

Alcohol returns are only allowed if the product is damaged, spoiled, or contaminated — or if the container is damaged.

Minnesota

Retailers may offer a money-back satisfaction guarantee on alcohol purchases.

Mississippi

Stores may accept alcohol returns for refund or exchange with the original receipt.

Missouri

Retailers may offer a money-back guarantee on alcohol purchases.

Montana

State law prohibits retailers from purchasing alcohol from any source except a licensed distributor. Some stores — like Montana Spirits and Wine — consider this a ban on returns.

Nebraska

Retailers may not advertise any guarantee of refund or exchange on alcohol purchases.

Nevada

The State of Nevada does not regulate retail alcohol sales; retail laws are set at the city and county level, so rules will vary by your location.

New Hampshire

Customer returns aren’t specified in state alcohol laws. However, the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet allows alcohol returns within 30 days of purchase with a receipt.

New Jersey

Customer returns aren’t specified in state rules for retailers. However, Joe Canal’s Discount Liquor Outlet in Lawrenceville, N.J., accepts unopened alcohol returns within 30 days with a receipt.

New Mexico

State law allows returns to a wholesaler for “ordinary and usual commercial reasons.” Customer returns aren’t specified.

New York

Stores may accept returns at their discretion. For more information, visit the New York State Liquor Authority’s website.

North Carolina

State-run stores abide by North Carolina county and city regulations on alcohol returns. Some allow returns and others don’t.

North Dakota

Customer alcohol returns aren’t specified in state regulations. North Dakota allows city and county governments to make laws that may be more strict, so rules may vary by location.

Ohio

Distributors can accept alcohol returns from retailers if the product is damaged or has become “unpalatable.”

Oklahoma

Retailers can’t return any merchandise unless it was delivered in error. Customer alcohol returns aren’t specified in Oklahoma regulations.

Oregon

Customer alcohol returns aren’t specified in state laws or liquor control rules, but retailers may only return expired or damaged products to wholesalers.

Pennsylvania

Alcohol purchased from a state-run store in Pennsylvania may be returned within 30 days with a receipt. Online purchases may be returned to a physical store.

Rhode Island

Customer alcohol returns are not specified in state laws or regulations. However, City Liquors in Providence, R.I. accepts returns on defective wine within 30 days with the original receipt.

South Carolina

Customer alcohol returns are not specified in South Carolina state laws.

South Dakota

Retailers can only purchase or receive alcohol from licensed wholesalers. Some stores may consider this a ban on returns.

Tennessee

Retailers may return damaged or unsalable products to the wholesaler. Customer alcohol returns are not specified. Cities and counties are also allowed to make laws restricting retail practices, so rules may vary by location.

Texas

Liquor stores in Texas accept alcohol returns in the original packaging with a receipt within 30 days of purchase.

Utah

In Utah, you can return alcohol that’s spoiled, leaking, or contaminated. Unopened containers of in-stock items may be returned at the store manager’s discretion.

Vermont

Customer alcohol returns aren’t specified in Vermont laws and regulations.

Virginia

Purchases from state ABC liquor stores in Virginia can be returned within 45 days for a refund with your receipt. Returns without a receipt will be made as store credit.

Washington

Washington state liquor stores accept returns of unopened, saleable merchandise with a receipt, according to state police.

West Virginia

West Virginia legislative rules governing alcohol sales state that customers may return the unused portion of defective or spoiled products and that retailers may offer a satisfaction guarantee with a promise of a refund.

Wisconsin

Customer alcohol returns aren’t specified in Wisconsin laws and regulations, but towns are allowed to make their own laws on alcohol control, so laws may vary by location.

Wyoming

Customer alcohol returns aren’t specified in Wyoming laws and regulations. However, The Liquor Store in Jackon, Wyo. accepts returns within seven days of purchase with a receipt.