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Bringing French wine back to the U.S.?

I will be traveling to France this spring and was wondering what the rules are in being able to bring back wine to the US on the airplane? Thanks.

Posted by
9110 posts

Checked luggage. Amount is up to your state. Liable to duty the same as other stuff you drag home.

Posted by
4535 posts

While each state has its own laws, for the most part, you are allowed to bring back as much as you want for your own private use. Only 1 liter can be imported duty free and un-declared per US customs law.

So that means you are typically allowed to bring as much as you can fit in your checked baggage (as no liquids can be carried on). You must declare more than a bottle or two, and sometimes might have to pay a duty. But any duty on a few bottles is pretty minimal and sometimes isn't even charged.

If you are planning to bring some wine home, consider buying special wine bottle sleeves that will help to protect the bottles in your luggage and if they do break, will keep the liquid sealed inside.

Posted by
108 posts

I've known folks who have checked a case or two of wine as a checked bag. As long as it's well packed, it should make the trip ok. A vineyard or a wine shop should be able to advise you and/or pack it up for you.

Assuming you're coming back to the U.S., you'll have to declare everything you're bringing back on the CBP Declaration Form 6059B, so even if you bring back a single bottle and won't owe any duty on it, you still have to declare it on the form. As far as CBP's concerned, you can bring back as much as you want for personal use, but if you bring back huge quantities, they may suspect that you're bringing it back for some sort of commercial reason. States may have further restrictions, so you may need to check on the rules of the state where you'll be importing it.

Best to contact CBP if you have any questions, as they'll be the ones making the call when you enter the United States.

Posted by
2081 posts


i fly direct and on my last trip i got some spirits for a friend. you pay for it up front and they put it in a well marks and sealed bag. It goes thru security/TSA with the others stuff and i bring it on board. If i had to tranfer somewhere, then i would need to put it in my checkin, but i dont.
It will depend on HOW you are flying back.

happy trails.

Posted by
1005 posts

If you buy the wine or spirits AFTER security at the duty-free store at the airport, they will seal it in a special plastic bag that you can carry on with your other carry-on items. If you have a direct flight to your final destination in the States, you just declare this at customs. If you are transferring to another flight in the US, when you go through customs with all your luggage, transfer that plastic bag with the wine/spirits into your checked luggage. There has been some discussion on the TSA website about letting passengers transfer to other US flights without packing their carry-on booze as long as it remains in the sealed plastic bag--but I wouldn't risk this.

Posted by
4535 posts


If you buy the wine or spirits AFTER security at the duty-free store
at the airport, they will seal it in a special plastic bag that you
can carry on with your other carry-on items.

If the OP's intention was to buy wine at the airport, I would suggest just waiting to buy it at home at a decent wine/liquor store. You won't find anything you can't get for a good price in the US. The same goes for just about any other wine or liquor no matter where you buy it in Europe. The main reason to buy wine in Europe is to find varieties and vineyards that do not export.

Posted by
74 posts

Actually I will be visiting the Burgundy region of France for several days, and thought of buying some there and bringing it back home. Doesn't sound like that is so easy to do.

Posted by
6990 posts

CC you can bring back a couple of bottles, but you have to pack them well and in a checked bag. You can buy individual cushioned plastic bottle bags here in US (most wine shops have them here). That's worked for me. Also gotten by with using socks and dirty laundry to pack each bottle in. Packing to keep them from knocking into each other and sharp edges.

Posted by
6152 posts


It really is not complicated. I have brought back many bottles of wine and beer over the years with no issues.

I find in a typical carry on size bag, I can pack 4-6 bottles of wine, protect them well, and stay under most weight limits for luggage. You can get special bubble bags, styrofoam forms, sealed inflatable bags, all manner of protection, but I find my dirty clothes work just as well, with maybe a plastic bag. Wine bottles are inherently strong, as well as you buy bottles that are the heavier style with a punt or dimple in the bottom, cheaper bottles may be an issue, but why go to the trouble to bring back cheap wine. I pack the bottles so that each are wrapped and there is padding on all six sides of the bag. Your bag of course will need to be checked, as opposed to carrying on.

As for limits and how to bring in, as mentioned CBP really has no upper limit for personal use, just that you declare what you bring back. In many trips and bring back as many as 4 cases, I have never had to pay duty. Declaration is not hard, you will be given a form on the plane that you have to fill out anyway, you just list the wine on the back.

Your home State also has some influence, with maybe spotty enforcement. Some indicate that Customs is supposed to enforce your state laws, I have not found that to be the case, but I always arrive at a port of entry that is not my home state. I doubt that all customs border points try to impose 50 sets of rules, maybe if your port of entry is your home state and your destination, there may be some enforcement separate from federal customs. For you though, California is pretty generous, if you arrive with the wine, you can bring in any "reasonable" amount, they suggest no more than 60 liters! ( see ) Shipping the wine to yourself though is a whole other issue.

So my suggestion is go ahead and pick up a few special or good bottles, you'll be fine.

Posted by
11983 posts

Generally, you're allowed one liter for each adult without duty.

Because they're liquids, checking is your only option other than having it shipped for you. If you have it shipped, realize you will likely pay more to get it home than you could buy it for at home.

Customs has to support state laws as well as federal. When they ask where you are going, it's to determine which state laws are applicable.

You are never in trouble for declaring everything. Even if it's not legal to import (e.g. Cuban cigars) and they take it from you, you won't be fined as long as you declare it.

If your state doesn't have strict import limits, you probably won't be charged a duty for a few extra bottles of wine. It's really more hassle to figure the duty than it's worth - up to a limit.

If the customs officer decides (up to his or her discretion) you have way too much for individual use, he or she can require you to get an import license (which will be more than the value of the wine) then charge you commercial duties - ultimately most people abandon it rather than pay (it gets destroyed, not taken home by the officers).

Follow the rule of reporting everything honestly, you are much more likely to find an officer who will let you go without duty.