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bringing alcohol back into the us

Travel Forums North America bringing alcohol back into the us

1. Posted by khiemstra09 (Budding Member 2 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

I am studying abroad this semester in Italy and want to bring my parents some limoncello for Christmas, but I live in the United States and am under 21. If I put the bottle in my checked suitcase, would I be able to get it through customs, or would they confiscate it and/or fine me? I've heard and read mixed answers, so would love some clarification. Thanks!

[ Edit: Edited on 06-Nov-2011, at 08:50 by khiemstra09 ]

2. Posted by CheersT (Travel Guru 2575 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

You're under-age so of course it's illegal for you to import booze into the US.

The chances of you having your checked luggage inspected are slim, but if a CBP official takes a look and finds the undeclared and illegal booze then you'll have a red flag on your file for eternity.

Why risk the hassle for something that is available for purchase in the US?...


3. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 2009 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

CheersT is correct. Last year I came through Seattle customs, and they looked through everything, but this year at JFK, I was just waived through with nothing looked at at all.

4. Posted by seeker7079 (Budding Member 3 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

ship it from a post office where you buy it

be well
enjoy the day
- mic

5. Posted by cruisetravelvip (Budding Member 2 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

Yes, don't risk putting it in your luggage. Ship it from the area that you purchase it.

Best Regards

6. Posted by CheersT (Travel Guru 2575 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

The cost/hassle of shipping it from Italy will be WAY more expensive than simply buying it in the US.


7. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 1999 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

I can speak to this as someone who tried exactly what you are considering (except I was already 21). The first two times I tried "sneaking" some extra bottles of liquor in and not declaring it--since I had more bottles than you were allowed to legally bring without paying any duties (fees). Anyway, I was caught and told I could drink my stuff right there before entering the US or else I could dispose of it (meaning of course the inspectors would enjoy it later) depending upon my preference. One of these times was at the Mexican border, and I noticed that the California Highway Patrol car was sitting about 200 yards away just waiting to ticket (and possibly give a DUI) to anyway who decided to drink liquor and then drive. (I decided to drink some--dispose of some--and have my non-drinking wife do the driving.)

The third time I brought in liquor and legally declared it upon my return from Germany some years later. Rather than have me pay the duty on it--the inspectors decided it wasn't worth the trouble--and waived me through without having me pay the required charges.

Okay--fourth time--this time I brought in gold jewelry and fancy ruby rings (coming back from Thailand and India). They were properly listed on the duty form, and the inspector had me pay about a $90 duty on about $1500 in imported goods. He also asked if he could "borrow" the 22-carat gold stuff to show some of the other (newer) inspectors in order to inform them of exactly what kind of stuff they were looking for when spot-checking suitcases. I asked him about that--and he said anything not declared could be seized--and nowadays it would be sold at a federal government auction.

Translation: Being honest does pay. In the first two cases, when I was dishonest, I lost a lot more in the cost of the liquor than what I would have paid in duties. In the third case I paid nothing when properly declaring liquor, and in the fourth case, even after paying the extra "duty fees", the cost of what I bought overseas was less than half of what it would have been in the US--and I didn't run the risk of having it confiscated and sold.