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carrying alcohol back to the U.S.

Can we buy some whisky...note Scottish spelling! ;-)... in Scotland (and maybe wine in France) and carry it back to the U.S. in our luggage? Any chance we can put it in carry-on luggage, or do European airport security people also demand that for carry-on luggage, we can only take what can fit in one qt. bag? We don't want to wait to buy only what's available in duty-free shops at airports.

Posted by
492 posts

If you try to put the alcohol in your carry-ons, expect it to be confiscated. Definitely put it in your checked luggage. We usually take a little bubble wrap and zip locks bags for such things and have never had any breakage.

Posted by
47 posts

I brought a bottle of wine back from France without any problems. I did check my backpack for the flight home.

Someone I know bought a bottle of duty-free alcohol before his flight home from Europe, carried it on board his first flight, and took it through customs in the USA. However, he wasn't allowed to bring it onto his connecting flight back to Portland and ended up having to throw it away.

Note that you can only bring one liter of alcohol back duty-free (e.g. only one bottle of wine, etc). I'm not sure what the regulations are like if you ship alcohol to your home address.

Posted by
9363 posts

Both previous posters are right. You can only carryon something that you have purchased at the after-security duty free shop. And even then, you would have to put it in your checked luggage if you have an ongoing flight after reaching the US. But to answer the other part of your question, Europe has its own equivalent of the 3-1-1 rule. Flying back home, everything liquid/gel/paste must be in a single 1-liter bag, with no individual container being larger than 100 ml.

Your best bet is to package it securely and put it in your checked luggage.

Posted by
10914 posts

As stated earlier, you are only allowed 1 liter of alcohol without paying a penalty. More than that and you pay a 3% duty on the rest. Quite often, CPB doesn't bother.

You also have to make sure that Indiana state laws allow you to bring alcohol in from outside the state.

Posted by
7 posts

I have packed a bottle of wine inside my dirty socks as padding and packed in my checked luggage. I have done this a number of times and have had no breakage.

If you purchase or beer in duty free, you can transfer to your checked bag after you get to the U.S. before going through security. There should be no need to throw it away.

Posted by
12040 posts

"I have packed a bottle of wine inside my dirty socks". How did the wine taste?

Posted by
9110 posts

First litre is duty free, but there's no limit on how much you can bring in for personal use. I've frequently come back with four or five bottles, which I fully declare, and have never had to pay duty. Even if you do, the fee is paltry.

Posted by
425 posts

I brought several bottles of whisky back from Scotland in 2008. They usually come in boxes when you purchase them. Just wrap some clothes around them and you should be fine. The tasting glasses that are sold in most distillary gift shops are great too!

Posted by
875 posts

We had the unfortunate experience of having an expensive bottle of cognac stolen from our checked bag on a connecting flight from Paris - Chicago - Dallas. The TSA locks on both checked bags were broken -- luckily they weren't interested in my French perfume.
We don't check bags anymore and always try to take direct flights home so we can bring duty-free liquor if we want.

Posted by
21641 posts

Till now Eli I thought you were smarter than that !! You are asking someone to use judgment. You should know better than that. With the TSA, rules trump judgment. Shortly after the beginning of the 3oz liquid ban, an article in Scientific American discussed just how difficult if not impossible it would be to built a liquid bomb big enough to cause damage -- need several quarts. The limit could just as effectively been placed or 10 oz or 750ml.

There is a drawback to checked luggage. On several trips we have successfully carried back several bottles with no problems. We had four bottles this time as usual and packed, in my opinion, very well.

When I pulled the carryon size bag from the luggage return it was sticky, smelled of wine, and the whole back side of the bag was damp. We had lost one bottle and, unfortunately, it was a liqueur. The other bottles were undamaged. From the flow of the liquid I think my bag was laying on its back and a sharp edge of a very heavy bag must have landed just right to shatter the bottle because it was broken in many, many small pieces. I had lined the back of the bag with a thick layer of dirty clothes - underwear, socks, etc. and that is where most of the liquid stay except for what ran out of the bag. The good clothes and gifts on top of the bottles were fine so I guess we were lucky that we had no damages other than very sticky underwear and socks. So carrying bottle in luggage is not completely risk free.

Posted by
448 posts

I've been a spoiled baby for years and always did the direct Paris - Boston flight so had no problem with the duty free carry on. This year it's Paris Dublin Boston so do i understand that if i want to take some whisky i should get it in the Dublin duty free??...or just wait until taxfree NH...

Posted by
495 posts

If you buy liquids at a duty free shop in the EU they will seal the bottle in a special bag. As long as the seal is intact (and you keep the receipt) you can take the bag through air side security at any EU airport.

So you could buy in Paris as long as you don't have to leave the secure area in Dublin.

Posted by
11 posts

Hi, we were in Ireland last year, and my husband waited until we were in the Dublin airport and were able to shop in the duty-free shop before our flight back to the U.S. He was especially looking for Scotch single-malt whisky, and there was none. The rest of the selection of alcohol wasn't great and was a big disappointment.Maybe that shop has improved its inventory since Sept. 2008.

Posted by
93 posts

We brought back two bottles of wine, a large bottle of olive oil, two bottles of lemoncello and about 10 little bottles of olive oil last time in Italy. Put it all in our checked bags (backpacks with wheels so it has like a metal frame)...Didn't have any problems and no customs issues. Wrote everything down on our declaration card, US customs at Dulles looked at the card and passed us through without comment.

Posted by
3428 posts

Purchases in the airport are not a bad option. There are multiple shops with a big selection. The problem will be if you have a second flight after landing in the US. Then you will have to put them in checked bags.

Posted by
1 posts

Not to change the subject, but how about going the other way? We have a bottle of wine we bought in France on an earlier trip, which we now want to take with us back to France in April when we celebrate our 20th anniversary. Any requirement other than proper packaging and putting it in checked baggage?

Posted by
495 posts

Same deal, although you are obviously subject to French duty laws not US. AFAIK France allows 2l of wine or 1l spirits duty free.

Posted by
1078 posts

This is how I bring back 2-3 bottles of Grappa, Calvados, Scotch,ect.; most duty free is available once you get through security, so I buy it, and when I recheck my bags at EWR, Atl, and so on, I put them in my bags when I recheck them in the US. Never have had a problem.

Posted by
5 posts

ok, it's April. Not that the month matters, but I know things change quickly in the travel world.

If I bring back more than one litre (say 4 bottles) of whisky in my checked luggage from Europe (say Istanbul and/or Amsterdam), what is the US duty on it? Can it be confiscated?

Also, can I get the bottles in duty free in Istanbul, carry them with me through Amsterdam, and then pack them when I enter the US in Seattle?