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Melnq8 Feb 13th, 2014 01:38 AM

Bringing alcohol into the US
Does anyone have any experience with bringing more than one liter per adult of alcohol into the US?

I know we're allowed one liter each, and we'll need to declare any overage and pay duty, but what I can't determine is how much the duty might be.

I've read the CBP website and the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, but I'm still confused, as they conflict.

Wondering if anyone has any first hand experience they'd like to share (via an airport and/or via a household shipment).

J62 Feb 13th, 2014 03:44 AM

The duty on wine is pennies on the bottle. I've brought back up to about a case, declared it on my customs form and just been waived through. I believe the duty on liquor is up to several dollars per bottle.

RoamsAround Feb 13th, 2014 04:43 AM

Agree, if you are bringing in a reasonable amount of liquor for your own consumption and you declare it on your customs entry form the likelihood is you probably won't be assessed any additional duty. If there is an assessment it will probably only amount to a few dollars per bottle, at most - no more than "pocket money".

POlson Feb 13th, 2014 05:50 AM

RoamsAround's advice is similar to what I found when researching bringing back wine from New Zealand. We hope to pick up a case during our travels. Apologies if the links don't work but maybe you can cut and paste if you want to read the whole article or blog posts. My next quest is to find a wine carrying case for 12 bottles that I can include as luggage.

The customs website says a "usual amount" will be allowed and that customs officials can determine if it appears the wine is for commercial purpose. You also have to check restrictions on the state you arrive in - for me California. A "reasonable amount" in California is five cases. We do like our wine!

This from a blog post from 2007: Customs and Border Protection limits you to one liter of alcohol free of tax. But beyond the one liter, the useful “Know before you go” Customs pamphlet elaborates that “Federal regulations allow you to bring back more than one liter of alcoholic beverage for personal use, but, as with extra tobacco, you will have to pay duty and Internal Revenue Service tax.” While they don’t mention the IRS tax rate, anyone care to guess what the Customs duty is? Three percent! That’s it!

From another post: Duty is generally 3% of value and the IRS excise tax is generally between 21-31cents per 750ml bottle of wine, 75 cents for Champagne, and $2.75 hard liquor.

AAFrequentFlyer Feb 13th, 2014 07:16 AM

I agree with all the others. As long as it's for personal consumption, customs will waive you through.

I brought back a case of wine, 3-5 bottles of hard liquor and never had an issue.

sludick Feb 13th, 2014 07:58 AM

Just make sure you declare it. Otherwise, if they search and find that you didn't disclose, they tend to get crabby.

We have brought back as much as 6 cases of wine from BC at a time. At that rate, we do have to pay a bit - but it is pennies on the bottle.

Melnq8 Feb 13th, 2014 03:10 PM

Beautiful, music to my ears, thank you all so much!

We'll be flying into California (LAX) but not staying there, but from what I understand the rules of the state you arrive into apply regardless, which almost makes having to deal with LAX worth it:)

We'll also eventually be moving back to the US and want to bring a supply of our favorite Swan Valley fortified with us, but we have some restrictions with household shipments to deal with on that one.

Now to figure out how much I can fit into my luggage without exceeding weight limits.

I'd love to know if/when/where you find a carrying case for 12 bottles POIson.

sludick Feb 14th, 2014 02:44 PM

Well, for regular wine bottles, we get shipping boxes from the wineries - not the regular box, but the ones with forms (cardboard, plastic, etc.) - they use those to ship their product.

Not sure what your bottles look like. And btw, fortified will cost you a bit more, but still reasonable.

Melnq8 Feb 14th, 2014 03:04 PM

Thanks for that sludick - so you just check on an entire case in the shipping boxes? I'll check with a couple of wineries in my area, see if they have something like that.

My local bottle shop sells heavy duty bubble wrap thingies that we've used to pack individual bottles in our suitcases. They work really well, but filling a suitcase with 12 of them will be a challenge.

I've found some interesting options online too, including one from Brookstone which might interest you POison.

POlson Feb 14th, 2014 07:22 PM

I did a little internet searching too and found some for under $100 that look like a bag on wheels that you put the cardboard crate inside (see the WineCheck) and others for $200 plus that look more like fully outfitted suitcases for wine. And some super fancy ones over $300. I am kinda leaning toward the Chill-N-Go. I like the flexibility of a wine carrier that collapses so you can take empty in a suitcase and then fill to bring home. Though no one asked, I will also volunteer that we similarly take an extra packed canvas duffle bag that we fill with dirty clothes and shoes during the trip and check on the way home -- that leaves us with more room to bring back souvenirs etc in the suitcase(s).

I'll check Brookstone too to see what they have on offer.

Melnq8 Feb 14th, 2014 09:28 PM

We do the duffel thing too, mostly to bring back stuff from the US that we can't get here.

I read the reviews on the Brookstone carrier, and don't think I want one now.

Diamantina Feb 15th, 2014 12:20 AM

Just saw this thread. My husband and I once entered SFO with 27 bottles of wine we bought in South Australia. Did not have to pay duty. Customs officials were much more concerned about the stuffed chickens that were being brought in by another passenger. Another time, we returned with 13 bottles from South Africa. Did not have to pay duty. Have brought wine into the US a few dozen times and only once paid duty and it was minimal, a few dollars. I think customs is more inclined to charge duty if you are entering with hard liquor/spirits.

I bought styrofoam wine carriers at the post office in Adelaide and they've lasted me about 15 years. They're fantastic, durable (though a "FRAGILE" sticker serves as an added precaution). They look like this:

You might try looking for these at local packing and shipping stores and at wineries. Wine stores in the US also use them. So once you get over to the US, you might buy some for future use.

Diamantina Feb 15th, 2014 12:41 AM

Amazon sells this type. But because the exterior is rounded, you'd have to enclose it in your suitcase or a box.

Melnq8 Feb 15th, 2014 01:25 AM

Excellent. I like how you think Diamantina. I also like your taste in wine - SA has some beauties.

Twenty-seven bottles must have weighed a fair bit.

sludick Feb 15th, 2014 05:25 AM

The shipping boxes we get from the wineries - they are cardboard (with forms to cushion and separate bottles, as mentioned) -- they are what they use to send cases of wine via UPS or FedEx. Sometimes they are free, sometimes we pay a few dollars a box.

Whatever you do get, keep in mind that you will have to check it, and it should be suitable for the typical rough handling, tossing, etc. Nothing softsided, for sure.

Diamantina Feb 15th, 2014 03:09 PM

I wanted to add the styrofoam wine shippers with the rounded walls (as opposed to the thicker, squared off box-like ones) are flimsier. The thinner walls can get crumbly after several uses (they're still useful for wine storage).

We didn't even notice the weight of the 27 bottles, just checked them and hoped they'd make them back. Though the sparkling wines, such as sparkling shiraz, are heavier. We weren't worried about breakage at all, just pilfering by luggage handlers or lost luggage. On trips from West Australia, Tasmania and Victoria, we also returned with many bottles of wine, and always shopped for wine when passing through Sydney. My to-do list was always: museums, then bottle shop. Australia is blessed with great vines! You must have collected quite a few by now.

I wished I loved NZ pinot noir as much as I loved Australian shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, or red blends. I've consumed more NZ pinot noir that I could ever have imagine, and had some great examples, but it's still not my favorite. The NZ whites are lovely. The ciders are good, too.

Melnq8 Feb 15th, 2014 03:09 PM

Understood, thanks sludick.

Diamantina Feb 15th, 2014 03:12 PM

Does Qantas still allow two checked bags if you are traveling economy US-Australia?

Melnq8 Feb 15th, 2014 03:42 PM

No idea about Qantas, Diamantina, we don't fly them.

We usually fly SIA via Singapore, but this time we're flying Premium Economy on Air New Zealand via Auckland, and with our Star Alliance Gold cards we'll get three bags each, up to 23 kg. That's too much luggage to deal with on a trip with multiple stops, so we're having to limit ourselves on the wine.

We do have quite a collection of wine, but unfortunately, the company (the reason we're here) won't allow us to put alcohol into our household shipment, so we're looking at alternative ways to get some wine back to the US. It's either that or a really, really big party before we leave.

We're traveling home for a visit next month, and thought it'd be the perfect opportunity to start taking some back. I wish we'd been doing it all along, but didn't think about it until recently.

We love NZ Pinot Noir, especially from South Otago. Love Otago's dry Rieslings too. Pinot Noir is hard to come by here in Shiraz producing Western Australia - too hot. There are a couple of boutique wineries down south that make a nice Pinot Noir, but not many.

POlson Feb 15th, 2014 06:24 PM

Loving this conversation. We will be flying premium economy on Air New Zealand in a few weeks and really excited for the trip - wine and shopping and family time for me, and some Hobbit stuff for DH and the kids. We will be wine tasting above Wellington and near Napier, and whatever else we find as we travel from the North Island.

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