North Dakota Moonshine Laws

During prohibition-era, breaking rules and regulations regarding alcohol was considered a “thrilling sport” among the natives of the “Peace Garden State” of North Dakota, USA. The “Whisky-runners” would smuggle moonshine across the border of USA from Canada. The demand was high, and the profit was unimaginable. There were also a number of home-brewers, and organized crime lords involved in the manufacture of moonshine in North Dakota, which was then, supplied to other states as well. The risks were higher, but then so were the stakes. That was the reason why no laws were able to prevent bootleggers to make and sell alcohol in North Dakotan territory.

Moonshine is still illegal in North Dakota despite countless amounts of civil persuasion. The porous rum-leaking border of Canada made the underground businessmen fairly rich, as the process remained unobserved by the authorities for a long time, until someone finally took notice. Moonshining is now trying to make a comeback, now that state government is gradually realizing its economic and cultural significance.


Licensed domestic distilleries are subject to the provisions of Title 5 of the North Dakota Century Code (“N.D.C.C.”); specifically 5-01-19 provides the operations and licensing and the farm products utilization for domestic distilleries authorized to operate in the state.   The North Dakota Office of State Tax Commissioner (‘Tax Commissioner’) is responsible for this and other laws regulating the operation of domestic distilleries.

  1. Is it legal to own a still in North Dakota?

Title 5: Alcoholic Beverages:   5-01 General Provisions: 5-01-04: The manufacture of alcoholic beverages is prohibited in North Dakota.

Title 5-01-03. Penalty. Repealed by S.L. 1975, ch. 106, 673. 5-01-04. The produce of alcoholic beverages is prohibited.
However, a person may manufacture alcoholic beverages for personal or family use without securing a license if the volume manufactured is within quantities allowed by the alcohol and tobacco tax and trade bureau of the U.S. Treasury Department, greater quantities is regarded as a class A misdemeanour.
5-01-02. Exceptions. This title does not apply to these articles, when they are unfit for beverage purposes: 1. Denatured alcohol produced and used in accordance with Acts of Congress, and the relevant regulations; 2. Patent, proprietary, pharmaceutical, antiseptic, medicinal and toilet preparations; 3. Food products, syrups and flavouring extracts. 4. Industrial, chemical, and scientific products; nor to the manufacture or sale of these articles containing alcohol. This title also does not apply to wynes delivered for sacramental use to ministers, rabbis and priests.

  1. What kinds of permits are required for distilling alcohol in North Dakota?

A domestic distillery must apply for an annual manufacturing license from the Tax Commissioner in order to produce distilled spirits and to sell distilled alcoholic beverages.

  5-01-19. Domestic distillery. 1. A domestic distillery license may be issued to the owner or operator of a distillery that is located within this state which uses a majority of North Dakota farm products (51% excluding water) to manufacture and sell spirits produced on the premises, which can be further renewed for an annual fee of one hundred dollars. This fee replaces all other license fees required by this title. However, the tax commissioner may not issue the domestic distillery license until the applicant has established that the applicant has applied for and obtained the necessary federal permits and registrations, as stipulated by the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and the Federal Alcohol Administration Act [27 U.S.C. 203], for the operation of a distilled spirits plant.

Licenses are valid from 1st January until 31 December of any one year. The license fee is $500 p.a.

A valid North Dakota Sales and Use Tax Permit is necessary if the distilled spirits are to be sold.       What is interesting is that proof must be provided of registration with the Food and Drug Administration of the U.S.

A copy of a Federal Registration and Basic Permit must also be submitted.

  1. What are the ATF licenses for fuel ethanol?

Ethanol for use on your own property is not required to be denatured. An application form 5110.74 and additional information are available from Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

  1. May students obtain permits to distil alcohol as part of a school science project?

It is so illegal to conduct experiments to distil alcohol at one’s premises, be it a school, a college or at one’s home, unless one has the AFP (alcoholic fuel plant) permits.  Then one may conduct these experiments with alcohol fuels, but only on condition that the premises qualify with TTB.  A duly authorized school representative must apply on application form 5110.74 to TTB to establish an AFP.   Once the permit has been received, these experiments may take place.

Homemade moonshine still in North Dakota

Homemade moonshine still in North Dakota

For more instructions and guidelines, visit the links below. – Official portal for North Dakota State Government – Alcohol License Application Forms – Contact info, Office of State Tax Commissioner

“Remember, the distillation of ethyl-alcohols is illegal without a permit per federal moonshine laws and is inherently dangerous because of ethanol’s flammability (never operate a homemade still indoors). For more moonshine laws and other moonshine still permit information, visit:”

“Finally, we are not lawyers, this info is for your entertainment only, so be sure to consult a crafty moonshine laws lawyer before spending any monies on your own distillation plant.”