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Any Issues with Taking Vodka Out of Russia?

Any Issues with Taking Vodka Out of Russia?

Old Aug 31st, 2010, 01:32 PM
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Any Issues with Taking Vodka Out of Russia?

We're headed to St. Petersburg in November, and my boyfriend wants to bring back some vodka. Obviously, we can't carry it on the plane(s), which we know, but will there be any customs issues with bringing back a few bottles? We're not trying to distribute it Costco-style or anything...just have a few at home to remember the trip by (or maybe not remember the trip depending on how strong it is). I was going to get some of those wine skins to help protect the bottles as well. If anyone has had any issues with this, please let me know. Thanks!
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 01:43 PM
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Check with customs how much liquor is allowed back in the US - I don't think it's how much you can take out of Russia, but how much can you bring in the US. It may be only 1 liter per adult.
Dayenu is offline  
Old Aug 31st, 2010, 02:03 PM
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Not only do you need to check with US customs it seems but also with the state which you enter first on returning to the US;
From the cbp website:

Alcoholic Beverages
In addition to U.S. laws, the laws of the state in which you first arrive in the United States will govern the amount of alcohol you may bring with you, and whether you need a license. If you plan to bring alcoholic beverages with you, before you depart, you should contact the state’s applicable alcoholic beverage control board to determine what you need to do to comply with that state’s laws and regulations.

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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 02:48 PM
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 02:51 PM
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Wowsers, looks like I can go the Costco route here in California if I want:

* Travel by Steamship or Airplane

Adults traveling into California from a foreign country by steamship or airplane may bring with them a reasonable amount of alcoholic beverages for personal or household use. A reasonable amount is not more than 60 liters (approximately five cases). (ABC agreement with U.S. Customs)

The fact that 60 liters is a reasonable amount is cracking me up!
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 03:03 PM
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This is simple: you get a liter a person, tax free. Anything more and you have to declare it and pay an excise tax. So you could bring in a bunch, but you'll be taxed for anything more than the first liter.

You don't have to worry about your state requirements because the only place any authority inquires about your load of booze is, if anywhere, at US customs. State alcohol inspectors won't be at the airport looking to tax your two bottles of booze. And state regulations apply to commercial resellers, not you and the boytoy carrying your private stash (or what's left of it after the plane ride) back into the US.

And of course you can carry it on the planes -- it's called a duty-free shop. It is inside the secured areas for passengers and after you've checked your bags. You buy the Vodka at a duty free shop and then you carry your allotment on the plane, or the shop sends the purchase to the gate.
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 03:48 PM
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Be sure to purchase the vodka from a shop rather than from a kiosk- very often the quality is not good from the kiosks. Brandy, especially Armenian is also very good in Russia.
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 04:03 PM
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I doubt it's worth the bother, none of the vodkas I had in Russia were as good as the ones we get that are exported from Russia. I looked for common brands as well as premium vodka and just didn't find it, I also asked my guide her comment, the good stuff is all exported. That was that. I gave up, this was a few years ago so maybe thigns have changed. You can buy vodka at duty free but I don't think you're allowed to take it onboard if you are on a flight to the US. Even if you are and have a connecting flight, you won't be able to take it onboardon the connecting flight.
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 07:50 PM
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There is some good information and some real messed up stuff in these replies.

Your information from the ABC is correct, as long as you clear customs in California. I returned my household belongings by ship from Germany to Long Beach. That included about 150 bottles of French wine and a dozen bottles of distilled spirits. No duty and no problem.

I never leave Amsterdam's Schiphol airport without a liter of Genever purchased in the duty free airport shop. That goes with me in the cabin. But I must make a connection in DTW or MPS on the way home. That requires clearing Customs and quickly putting the bottle in my checked luggage for the connecting flight. Otherwise the TSA folks take it home with them.

If you buy the vodka in St. Petersburgh you will have to bring it back in checked luggage. I have brought booze back. I put it in an athletic sock, in a ZipLoc bag, and put it in the middle of my suitcase. I lock the suitcase with a wire tie. No problems, so far.

Vodka was dirt cheap the last time I was in Ukraine years ago. A half liter of Stoly cost me 25 cents. It was as good as the product sold in America. Vodka is distilled grain alcohol. Fancy bottles do not improve the taste, what there is of taste to start with. The best product is triple or quadruple distilled to get the aldehydes and other hangover producers out of it. Virtually all vodka has the same alcohol content, 40%.

BTW, one thing the Russians frown on is exporting any native art or artifacts.
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 09:49 PM
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Wow, BigRuss...thx for the clarification about what a duty-free shop is. In all the time I've been traveling, I thought it was a place in the airport that people went to shirk responsibility.

Thanks Odin and Spaarne for the helpful pieces of advice! We're not looking to cart back bottles and bottles of booze, just have a couple at home as a souvenir. And the brandy tip is helpful too
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 11:31 PM
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You can take bottles on board if they are purchased in the duty free shop past the security check. At least that is what I did in Rome and had no problems upon arrival in the States. But if transiting from the East Coast in the States to another city, the bottles must be placed in the luggage before going through security for the second flight.

As for the amount of liquor: I have arrived in the States with 6 bottles of various alcohols and Customs did not bat an eye. But I have not done that since such carry-ons from non free-duty shops are not allowed, i.e. 9/11.
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Old Sep 1st, 2010, 12:26 AM
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Ararat is a good Armenian brandy (APAPAT in Cyrillic) and it comes in small bottles, good for souvenirs but Russian brandy (which they call cognac) is equally good. We purchased some at the duty free shop in St Petersburg but the vodka we purchased at a shop somewhere else. Generally I ask for advice on which is the best and the shop assistants are usually very helpful, think we bought Standard.
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Old Sep 1st, 2010, 02:06 PM
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Awesome, thanks so much!
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