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Your local TABC

Label Approval FAQs

This FAQ is meant to help with TABC’s label approval process. It is based on the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code and TABC Administrative Rules. To learn more about the rules for getting federal Certificates of Label Approval (COLA), visit the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) website.

Have a question not covered here? Email label.approval@tabc.texas.gov.

General Questions

TABC must approve the label featured on the container of an alcoholic beverage before the product can be shipped in or into Texas. This is required by law. 

Businesses licensed to make alcoholic beverages must apply with TABC to get label approval for their products. This includes holders of a:

  • Brewer’s Permit (B) 
  • Nonresident Brewer’s Permit (U) 
  • Manufacturer’s License (BA) 
  • Nonresident Manufacturer’s License (BS) 
  • Brewpub License (BP) 
  • Distiller’s and Rectifier’s Permit (D) 
  • Nonresident Seller’s Permit (S) 
  • Winery Permit (G) 

There are two ways to apply for TABC label approval.

  1. Apply online: The best way to submit your application is through our Label Approval System. You can also pay the $25 application processing fee online using a credit card or bank draft.
  2. Apply by mail: Download the application from the Label Approval page and mail it, along with a check or money order to cover the processing fee, to:

    Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission
    5806 Mesa Drive
    Austin, TX 78731

Yes. There are three exemptions:  

  1. Holders of a Brewer’s Permit (B), Manufacturer’s License (BA) or Brewpub License (BP) who are located in Texas and allowed to sell product for both on- and off-premise consumption don’t need label approval for the product sold to consumers on the premises. Keep in mind: 
    • If a product is sold for on-premise consumption, you must post the product’s alcohol by volume in a clearly visible place on your premises.  
    • If a product is sold for off-premise consumption (to go), you must either write on the container or place a label with the product name and alcohol by volume. 
  2. Holders of an Out-of-State Winery Direct Shipper’s Permit (DS) who have met all federal label approval requirements for a particular brand of wine don’t need to register for TABC label approval
  3. Any beverage containing less than 0.5% ABV is not considered an alcoholic beverage in Texas and does not need label approval.

Filling Out the Label Approval Application

No. You need a valid TABC license or permit before you submit a label approval application to the agency. If you apply for label approval before receiving your license or permit, any fees you pay are nonrefundable.

It depends on the product: 

  • Yes for malt beverages (beer and ale). You need TABC label approval for every size and container type (bottle, can or keg). 
  • Yes for wine less than 7% ABV. You need label approval for every size and container type (bottle, can or keg). 
  • No for wine greater than 7% ABV and distilled spirits. Only one COLA is required for: 
    • Wine in containers ranging from 50 mL – 58 L in size. 
    • Spirits in containers ranging from 25 mL – 1.75 L in size. 

Yes. See the specific application process for each type below:

Malt beverages need TABC label approval for every size and container type (bottle, can or keg). 

  • You can list all sizes and container types on one application.
  • You will pay a $25 processing fee for each container type and size. For example, if your application lists a 12-ounce bottle, 12-ounce can and 16-ounce can, you would have to include a payment of $75.
  • You can list multiple TTB COLAs on one application.

Wine greater than 7% ABV and distilled spirits need to submit a TABC label-approval application:

  • One application per TTB COLA.
  • Products must follow these size limits:
    • Wine 50 mL – 58 L
    • Spirits 25 mL – 1.75 L
  • You will pay a $25 processing fee for each application.
  • Have questions? Visit TABC’s Contact Us page and select the “Label approvals” topic in the form.

Wine under 7% needs TABC label approval for every size and container type (bottle, can or keg). 

  • You can list all sizes and container types on one application.
  • You will pay a $25 processing fee for each application.
  • TTB COLAs are not issued to wine under 7% ABV.

Yes. If you apply through our Label Approval System, you can pay using a credit card or bank draft to cover the total cost for all of the label approval applications. If you apply in person or by mail, you can pay using one check or money order to cover the total cost. 

It depends on the product. Yes, for malt beverages and wine less than 7% ABV.: 

  • New malt beverage or wine under 7% ABV labels: You need to provide a product sample to TABC or a product analysis conducted by an independent or TTB-certified lab. A certified lab must be equipped to perform all analysis required by the TTB. 
  • Changes to malt beverage or wine under 7% ABV labels : You need to provide a product sample or independent lab analysis only if the product analysis on file with TABC is more than five years old or if the product formulation/analysis has changed.
  • Distilled spirits and wines 7% ABV or more: No samples required.

Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission
Attn: Laboratory Chemist
5806 Mesa Drive
Austin, TX 78731

It’s illegal to send alcoholic beverages through the U.S. Postal Service. Most large carriers, such as FedEx and UPS, have the permits to transport alcohol in Texas. You need to confirm this before shipping.

Label Approval Processing and Certificates

Please email label.approval@tabc.texas.gov to receive an automatic reply with the application submission dates TABC is currently processing.

No. We process label approval applications in the order they’re received.  

When labels are approved, TABC sends a notice to the email address listed on the application. You can also search for your product through the TABC Label Key Search to see if we’ve approved your labels.

Label approvals do not expire except under the following circumstances:

  • If a TTB COLA is provided with the label approval application that has an expiration date. 
  • If TABC issues an expiration date for administrative reasons.

Label Changes and Brand Transfers

It depends on the product type: 

  • Malt beverages and wine less than 7% ABV: you’ll need new TABC label approval for any label change. 
  • Wines greater than 7% ABV and distilled spirits:  
    • If a label change requires you to get a new TTB COLA, you must also get a new TABC label approval. 
    • If there’s a change in the primary American source of a wine or distilled spirit product, the new primary American source must get their own TABC label approval before shipping into Texas. The primary American source must have a Nonresident Sellers Permit (S) with TABC before submitting for label approval.  

No. All products must be registered to the producer, owner or exclusive agent of the product, so you must apply for new TABC label approval. For further questions about your brand transfer, contact TABC Label Approval at label.approval@tabc.texas.gov or 512-206-3410. 

No. If you are the same business that previously held the certificates, and there are no changes to the labels or TTB COLAs, the TABC label approvals issued under the expired permit/license number are still current. 

Contract Brewing and Alternating Brewery Proprietorship

The Alcoholic Beverage Code authorizes two types of agreements to produce  malt beverages (beer, ale, etc.). Holders of a Brewer’s Permit (B), Nonresident Brewer’s Permit (U), Manufacturer’s License (BA) and Nonresident Manufacturer’s License (BS) can enter into “alternating brewery proprietorships” and/or “contract brewing arrangements.” 

These production agreements have separate, distinct definitions and requirements under Texas law: 

  • Under an alternating brewery proprietorship, a brewer or manufacturer operates at and produces their own product at someone else’s facility.  
  • In a contract brewing arrangement, a brewer or manufacturer has their product produced by another manufacturer on their behalf at the other manufacturer’s facility. 

For both agreements, TABC label approval is given to the permit/license holder who is the legal owner of the product with control over its production. If you use a contract brewing or alternating proprietorship arrangement, you’ll need to get additional permits with TABC. For further questions, contact TABC Label Approval at label.approval@tabc.texas.gov or 512-206-3410.

Other

No. You need label approval before sampling alcohol.

Cider is classified as a wine.

Classification of hard seltzer is dependent upon the product’s TTB formulation. The seltzer’s TTB formulation should be submitted with your label approval application.

Visit the TTB page defining beer and malt beverages to learn more. 

No. TABC does not provide approval for malt beverage secondary packaging.  Any products and sizes contained within the package must all receive label approval from TABC before the variety pack can enter the stream of distribution.

 

See TABC Administrative Rules §45.82 and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, Sec. 1.04(12)(15).