confused by duty free laws

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Oct 28th, 2017, 02:05 PM
  #1
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confused by duty free laws

I'm not a frequent travler so please be nice to me. I am going to France in March and would like to bring back three or so bottles of Amer Picon, a French apéritif. I've read the regs but I'm baffled. How much would such a thing cost me?

Thanks so much for your help

gspain
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Oct 28th, 2017, 02:51 PM
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Nothing if you don't declare it. The customs officials are looking for major fraudsters, not the small fry.

I have been intercepted a number of times over the last 40 years, rarely had things taken from me and was never asked to pay anything, even when I was visibly over the limit.

My father on the other hand once declared about 10 bottles of mirabelle brandy which was 100 proof. (My parents were moving at the time with a number of liquid "treasures" from my grandparents' house). I think he paid something like $1 a bottle. Picon is not even a high alcohol item, so the rate would probably be much lower.
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Oct 28th, 2017, 03:04 PM
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If you're going for the taste and not the brand name, you should know that Picon is far more expensive than the "no name" brands sold in eastern France. Then again, a liter of Picon only costs about 15 euros in a normal supermarket.

If you bother to look at the duty rates on the official US government website (https://hts.usitc.gov/current), you will see that the rate for "vermouth strength" items (which is the strength of Picon) - section IV, chapter 22 - is 4.2 cents a liter as specified in heading 2205.10.60.
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Oct 28th, 2017, 04:30 PM
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Many thank to you kind folks for your speedy input. I am looking for the brand because it's not available in the U.S.

Thanks again for your input.

gspain
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Oct 28th, 2017, 04:44 PM
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I think you would be better off declaring your purchase. Customs agents generally do not like to look up the taxes for a few extra bottles of booze, they do like confiscating undeclared items. We once brought back 11 bottles of wine, declared it, the agent tried very hard to get me to ‘correct ‘ the number to 1, but I was too tired to get it. He finally just waved us through.
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Oct 28th, 2017, 05:00 PM
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>>Nothing if you don't declare it<<

Bad idea. Declare it. But you get one liter duty free and the duty (if they assess it which is unlikely) the duty on the rest will only be 3% so a pretty negligible $ amount. Probably 80% or 90% of the time they won't assess any duty - but you'd better declare it. Penalties for not doing so are worse.
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Oct 28th, 2017, 05:11 PM
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I suspect kerouac is used to walking through the "nothing to declare" doors in Europe. Not possible when entering the US, you have to talk to a customs agent (unless you have Global Entry). Safer to declare it.
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Oct 28th, 2017, 05:25 PM
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>>I suspect kerouac is used to walking through the "nothing to declare" doors in Europe. <<

good point -- I intended to mention kerouac is based in Paris, so Customs is operated differently but forgot to include it.
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Oct 28th, 2017, 11:24 PM
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It is quite easy to enter the US and simply not declare the goods ON the form. Usually that "talking to an agent" is as much for Immigration as anything and then you simply hand the form to someone as you exit.

Is it a good idea to lie, not IMO, but it's just as easy as walking through the "Nothing to Declare" lane.
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Oct 29th, 2017, 02:49 AM
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I always declare everything, and I've never had to pay anything at US customs. There's a generous limit on most goods.

Entering Italy, I've almost never had to pay anything either, even though there's no duty-free limit. The real bite that you get entering Europe is the VAT, not customs duty, which is modest.
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Oct 29th, 2017, 03:43 AM
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This reminds me of a time before the customs rules were relaxed when we were coming back to the UK on a ferry with a car packed full of wine, so duty would have been payable.

There was a customs strike, so the queues were huge and it was already midnight when we drove off the ferry. Being law abiding folk, we headed for the "something to declare" row where there was no queue so that was a result in itself, but we were astonished when the customs official had a quick look at what we'd got and said "have it on the Queen".

Honesty is the best policy.
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Oct 29th, 2017, 02:36 PM
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YOu don't actually talk to the customs agents in the US, either, but you can't just walk through. There is a manned gate area at my airport. You only do if they question you and want to look in your bags. The customs agents just take your filled out form and you walk through their gate area at the airport I come back to,. You don't talk to anyone unless they stop you. I have never seen them talk to anyone except someone who had plant material and was busted for not declaring it, I think the dogs picked it up. It wouldn't have been allowed in, anyway.

Again, people are confusing the passport control people with "customs" for some reason, they ask you a few questions sometimes about your trip, but they are not customs.
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Oct 29th, 2017, 02:48 PM
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No, I am not confusing them, I am very clear on the difference. And I have actually had a customs agent in the US speak to me.
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Oct 29th, 2017, 03:07 PM
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Christina - you are 100% wrong. Yes you DO speak to a customs agent. Even if it is only to hand in the form or GE receipt and say thank you. They look at the receipt/form and decide whether there is a problem or not. I have spoken to a customs agent almost every single time I've entered the US.

And no, we are NOT confusing the two.

But you likely will not see our replies since I've never seen you return to a thread after one of your assertations has been debunked.

(BTW Immigration and customs are handled by the same organization in the states)
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Oct 29th, 2017, 03:25 PM
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We brought back a suitcase full of our favorite liqueur verdelho when moving from Australia to the US - we declared, prepared ourselves for duty... and were just waved through. I think it was more trouble than it was worth for Customs.
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Oct 29th, 2017, 03:43 PM
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What is the country you are returning to from France? Spain. Assuming that feom your name.
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Oct 29th, 2017, 04:14 PM
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It seems different airports have different procedures. I fly into Dulles outside Washington DC and for the past couple of years returning US citizens did not need to fill out the blue customs form and often we weren't even asked if we had anything to declare. About 6 months ago the "customs" line where you used to turn in your form disappeared. Now the passport person handles everything. Now the only delay in arriving is waiting for luggage which usually takes well under half an hour.


In the old days the customs lines were endless and when you got to the front you did just simply hand in your form without speaking to the agent. Only rarely would they talk you. Maybe in California you exchange pleasantries but here in Washington we tend to be less chatty after a long wait in line.

All of this is separate from the global entry kiosks which seems to also take no time at all.
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