So here you are, drinking amazing wine in Bordeaux, Burgundy, Tuscany, Rioja, or another of the many European wine regions kissed by the terroir gods, and you are thinking how do I get some of this stuff back home? Maybe it's a bottle or two of Armagnac or another French digestif? Or perhaps you are in Belgium and have fallen in love with a selection of Belgian Trappist or Abbey beers? Or you are eyeing some intoxicating Porto from Portugal, whiskey from Scotland, need we go on? Can I take wine or spirits on a plane these days? And if so, isn’t the limit only a bottle of two? What are the duties and taxes on alcohol?
There is a lot of confusion and misperceptions surrounding whether you can take wine and other types of alcohol onto a plane, especially when it comes to international travel. The purpose of this article is to clarify the facts and lay out the rules and regulations for taking wine and alcohol as baggage onto a plane. Please note that these rules do not apply to wine shipping, which in many cases carries a lot more restrictions.
In general when it comes to flying with alcohol you are bound by a few types of regulations:
Wine and hard alcohol in your carry-on or cabin baggage is generally NOT allowed. This is because liquids in quantities larger than 100 ml (3.4 oz.) cannot be placed in your carry-on. An exception to the carry-on rule is made for wine and other spirits purchased in duty-free stores beyond security checkpoints. Under rules that took effect January 31, 2014, passengers traveling internationally into the United States, Canada and Europe with a connecting flight are permitted to carry liquids in excess of 100 ml (3.4 ounces) in their carry-on baggage, provided they were purchased in duty-free shops and placed in secure, tamper-evident bags (STEBs).
Wine and alcohol in checked (hold) baggage is accepted as under the following conditions:
“While beverages with an alcohol content of greater than 70 percent are prohibited and those with an alcohol content between 24 and 70 percent are limited, there is no TSA-regulated quantity limit on beverages with less than 24 percent alcohol, such as wine. Airline-created checked baggage limits still apply, but passengers are free to use the entirety of their quota for wine transport.” USA TODAY Travel Tips: Air Travel With Wine Bottles
"Please note, you can’t take alcoholic beverages with more than 70% alcohol content (140 proof), including 95% grain alcohol and 150 proof rum, in your checked luggage. You may take up to five liters of alcohol with alcohol content between 24% and 70% per person as checked luggage if it’s packaged in a sealable bottle or flask. Alcoholic beverages with less than 24% alcohol content are not subject to hazardous materials regulations." TSA: Carrying Alcohols in Your Checked Baggage
"You can pack bottles of alcohol (including homemade wine and beer, and commercial products) in your checked baggage if: 1. The percentage of alcohol by volume is 70% (140 proof) or less. 2. The quantity does not exceed five litres per person for alcoholic beverages between 24% and 70% alcohol by volume. Alcoholic beverages containing 24% alcohol or less are not subject to limitations on quantities." Government of Canada: Transporting Alcohol
Individual airlines adhere to the regulations outlined by the international security bodies. In addition you must follow the checked-baggage weight limits outlined by each airline. For international travelers this is typically 23kg (50 lb) per checked baggage for economy class, and 32 kg for business class or if an overweight baggage fee is paid. Many US airlines allow multiple bags per person to be checked-in for no additional fee, while others charge typically $50 to $75 for a second piece of baggage.
Not all airlines have an explicit written policy on alcohol checking alcohol in your hold luggage, but the general rule is that it must be packaged to completely prevent breakage, which could damage other customers’ luggage and property. Some airlines require Styrofoam padded packs to be used.
It is advisable to check with your airline if any requirements exist.
Your final set of regulations of how much alcohol you can bring with you, comes by way of import laws set by the country you are entering. Many people confuse duty-free limits with absolute limits on bringing in alcohol into a given country. In general, most countries permit you to bring in alcohol over the duty-free limit, but you may (or may not) have to pay the associated duties and taxes, depending on how strict the country and its customs officers are. Duty-free and absolute limits vary by country and even individual State or Province within countries like Canada and the US.
Each country typically has a duty-free alcohol allowance, where the alcohol is not subject to any duties, tariffs, or taxes, and allows an additional quantity which is subject to duty and taxes. Please note that this duty and taxes may, but often is not actually collected.
Please note that in almost all cases you must be of legal drinking age in the country you are bringing alcohol into.
Although the language on the U.S Customs and Border Protection website doesn't at first glance make this 100% clear (See: U.S Customs and Border Protection - Bringing alcohol, including homemade wine to the U.S. for personal use), the United States has a very friendly laws towards bringing in wine for personal use if it's accompanied by the owner (this includes very low per bottle duties and taxes, which customs agents often don't bother to even collect).
"Declare the alcohol you are transporting on your customs form and pay the appropriate duty to the customs officer, typically around $1 to $2 for wine and beer, while the amount for spirits varies by type, as of publication." USA TODAY Travel Tips: Packing Alcohol in Luggage & Customs
"The duties range on Liquor depending on the country of origin and alcohol content. However, even after paying the duty your savings are still substantial.
Here are a few Examples of how inexpensive the duties are at US Customs:
Wine $0.35 a 750ml Bottle
Beer $1.25 a case of 24
Liquor (1Litre) $2-$3 (on average)" Peace Bridge Duty Free Guide:How Much is duty on extra Liquor and beer at US Customs?
Canadian duties and taxes are assed based on the province one is landing into from abroad and can range significantly from province to province. Please note that this does not mean the province of final destination. For example if one lands in Ontario and has a connecting flight to the final destination of Alberta, duties and taxes will be assessed using Ontario regulations. Currently, Alberta has the lowest alcohol duties and taxes, while British Columbia has the highest. See the table below for the duties, and taxes for a given province or check out Canada Border Service Agency: Calculating the Provincial Sales Tax, Harmonized Sales Tax, Provincial Tobacco Tax, and Alcohol Markup
When bringing over 2.25L of alcohol, those entering Australia are subject to duty, Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Wine Equalisation Tax (WET), which is equivalent to approximately 49% of the pre-VAT value of the goods. See: Australian Customs and Border Protection Service Customs Tariff, Schedule 3, Chapter 22 - Beverages, spirits and vinegar
Mexico allows up to 6 litres of wine, sparkling, and beer duty-free. It allows up to 3 litres of liquor duty-free. Duties are 90% of the pre-VAT value of the alcohol past the duty-free limit. See: Declarations Entering Mexico
On entering New Zealand you are entitled to bring in the following quantities of alcohol products free of Customs duty, provided that you are aged 17 years* or older and that the goods:
If the above is applicable the following amounts are allowed duty free:
Any amounts over the above will be liable for Customs duty and goods and services tax (GST). This includes bottles which are of greater volumes than the one described.
If the value of your alcohol is over NZ$700 then they may attract goods and services tax (GST) of 14% of the alcohol pre-VAT value.
Norway duty-free limits are as follows: Up to 3 litres for wine and sparkling, 5 litres for beer, and 1 litre for spirits. A simplified customs declaration program is offered past these duty-free limits, where you can bring up to 27 litres of wine and sparkling subject to a duty of NOK 45 / bottle, up to 27 litres of beer subject to a duty of NOK 20 / litre, and up to 4 litres of spirits subject to a duty of NOK 115-325 / litre. See: Norwegian Customs: Simplified customs declaration of alcohol and tobacco
Singapore allows one of the following duty-free concessions for liquor products if:You have spent 48 hours or more outside Singapore immediately before arrival, and you have not arrived from Malaysia:
Option A: 1 litre of spirits + 1 litre of wine or sparkling + 1 litre of beer
Option B: 2 litres of wine or sparkling + 1 litre of beer
Option C: 1 litre of wine or sparkling + 2 litres of beer
South Africa allows consumable goods in accompanied baggage including wine and alcohol. Duty free allowances are 2 litres of wine and 1 litre of spirits. Once the these limits are exceeded, the goods are subject to the payment of customs duty and value-added tax (VAT) – including goods bought duty-free on aircraft or ships or in duty-free shops.
For goods of up to R20 000 in value (approximately 1800€), you have the option of paying customs duty at a flat rate of 20%. Flat-rated goods are also exempt from payment of VAT. This is valid only once per person per 30-day period and is most likely your better option. See: South Africa: traveller's customs guide
Switzerland allows allows up to 5 litres of wine, sparkling, and beer (beverages where alcohol content is below 18%), and 1 litre of spirits (where alcohol is above 18%) duty-free. Quantities above these limits may be subject to duties of 1.50 CHF per bottle on alcohol below 18% and 11.25 per bottle on alcohol above 18%. See: Meat, spirits, wine, tobacco, milk – new duty-free allowances and fees
There are no limits on what private persons can buy and take with them when they travel between EU countries, as long as the products purchased are for personal use and not for resale. Duties and taxes are only charged if the alcohol exceeds the following: Wine & Sparkling - 90L, Beer - 110L, Spirits - 10L. See: Buying goods in another (EU) Member State
|Country||Alcohol Type||Duty-Free Limit||Duty & Tax Above Duty-Free Limit||Total Limit|
|USA||Wine||1 Liter (34 o.z)||$0.35-$2 / bottle||none as long as for personal use|
|Sparkling||1 Liter (34 o.z)||$1-$3 / bottle||none as long as for personal use|
|Beer||1 Liter (34 o.z)||$0.35-$1 / bottle||none as long as for personal use|
|Spirits||1 Liter (34 o.z)||$2-$3 / bottle||5 Liters|
|Alberta||Wine||1.5 Litres||$2.50 / bottle||45.45 Litres (60x750ml bottles)|
|Sparkling||1.5 Litres||$3.75 / bottle||
45.45 Litres (60x750ml bottles)
|Beer||8.5 Litres||$0.34 / Litre||45.45 Litres|
|Spirits||1.14 Litres||$5.00 / Litre||5 Litres|
|BC||Wine||1.5 Litres||85% min $1.83/bottle max $12.75/bottle||45 Litres (60x750ml bottles)|
|Sparkling||1.5 Litres||85% min $1.83/bottle max $12.75/bottle||45 Litre (60x750ml bottles)|
|Beer||8.5 Litres||55% min $1.13 / Litre||45 Litres (any type)|
|Spirits||1.14 Litres||150% min $13.19/Litre max $40/Litre||5 Litres|
|Ontario||Wine||1.5 Litres||39.6% of pre-VAT value||45 Litres (60x750ml bottles)|
|Sparkling||1.5 Litres||39.6% of pre-VAT value||45 Litres (60x750ml bottles)|
|Beer||8.5 Litres||$0.676 / Litre||45 Litres (any type)|
|Spirits||1.14 Litres||59.9% of pre-VAT value||5 Litres|
|Quebec||Wine||1.5 Litres||66% of pre-VAT value||10.5 Litres (12x750ml bottles) without going through SAQ|
|Sparkling||1.5 Litres||72% of pre-VAT value||10.5 Litres (12x750ml bottles) without going through SAQ|
|Beer||8.5 Litres||$0.40 / Litre||17.5 Litres without going through SAQ|
|Spirits||1.14 Litres||124% of pre-VAT value||5 Litres without going through SAQ|
|Australia||Wine||2.25 Litres||49% of pre-VAT value||none as long as for personal use|
|Sparkling||2.25 Litres||49% of pre-VAT value||none as long as for personal use|
|Beer||2.25 Litres||49% of pre-VAT value||none as long as for personal use|
|Spirits||2.25 Litres||49% of pre-VAT value||5 Litres|
|Brazil||Wine||12 Litres (16x750ml bottles), & up to $500USD pre-VAT value||50% of excess value above $500USD||none as long as for personal use|
|Sparkling||12 Litres (16x750ml bottles), & up to $500USD pre-VAT value||50% of excess value above $500USD||none as long as for personal use|
|Beer||12 Litres (& up to $500USD pre-VAT value)||50% of excess value above $500USD||none as long as for personal use|
|Spirits||5 Litres (& up to $500USD pre-VAT value)||50% of excess value above $500USD||5 Litres|
|China||Wine||1.5 Litres (2x750ml bottles), if above 12% alcohol||50% of pre-VAT value after duty-free limit||none as long as for personal use|
|Sparkling||1.5 Litres (2x750ml bottles), if above 12% alcohol||50% of pre-VAT value||none as long as for personal use|
|Beer||unlimited, if below 12% alcohol||none; part of your overall duty-free import limit||none as long as for personal use|
|Spirits||1.5 Litres (if above 12% alcohol)||50% of pre-VAT value||5 Litres|
|Hong Kong||Wine||unlimited||unlimited||none as long as for personal use|
|Sparkling||unlimited||unlimited||none as long as for personal use|
|Beer||unlimited||unlimited||none as long as for personal use|
|Spirits||1 Litre (if above 30% alcohol)||23 HKD / litre||5 Litres|
|Japan||Wine||2.25L (3x750ml bottles)||150yen per bottle (750ml)||none as long as for personal use|
|Sparkling||2.25L (3x750ml bottles)||150yen per bottle (750ml)||none as long as for personal use|
|Beer||2.25L||150yen per bottle (750ml)||none as long as for personal use|
|Spirits||2.25L||225-450yen per bottle (750ml)||5 Litres|
|New Zealand||Wine||4.5L||$2.13 NZD per bottle (750ml)||none as long as for personal use|
|Sparkling||4.5L||$2.13 NZD per bottle (750ml)||none as long as for personal use|
|Beer||4.5L||$1.4 NZD per litre||none as long as for personal use|
|Spirits||3 bottles, each up to 1.125 Litres||$51.8 NZD per litre of % alcohol||5 Litres|
|Norway||Wine||up to 3 Litres (4x750ml bottles), if not combined with other excise goods||NOK 45 / bottle||27 Litres (36x750ml bottles), for simplified customs declaration|
|Sparkling||up to 3 Litres (4x750ml bottles), if not combined with other excise goods||NOK 45 / bottle||27 Litres (36x750ml bottles), for simplified customs declaration|
|Beer||up to 5 Litres (if not combined with other excise goods)||NOK 20 / litre||27 Litres (for simplified customs declaration)|
|Spirits||1 Litre||NOK 115-325 / litre||4 Litres (for simplified customs declaration)|
|Mexico||Wine||6 Litres (8x750ml bottles)||90% of pre-VAT value||none as long as for personal use|
|Sparkling||6 Litres (8x750ml bottles)||90% of pre-VAT value||none as long as for personal use|
|Beer||6 Litres||90% of pre-VAT value||none as long as for personal use|
|Spirits||3 Litres||90% of pre-VAT value||5 Litres|
|Singapore||Wine||2 Litres (3x750ml bottles)||S$88 per litre of % alcohol||none as long as for personal use|
|Sparkling||2 Litres (3x750ml bottles)||S$88 per litre of % alcohol||none as long as for personal use|
|Beer||2 Litres||S$76 per litre of % alcohol||none as long as for personal use|
|Spirits||1 Litre||S$88 per litre of % alcohol||5 Litres|
|South Africa||Wine||2 Litres (3x750ml bottles)||20% of pre-VAT value||20000 ZAR (1800€)|
|Sparkling||2 Litres (3x750ml bottles)||20% of pre-VAT value||20000 ZAR (1800€)|
|Beer||2 Litres||20% of pre-VAT value||20000 ZAR (1800€)|
|Spirits||1 Litre||20% of pre-VAT value||5 Litres / 20000 ZAR (1800€)|
|Switzerland||Wine||5 Litres (7x750ml bottles)||1.50 CHF / bottle||none as long as for personal use|
|Sparkling||5 Litres (7x750ml bottles)||1.50 CHF / bottle||none as long as for personal use|
|Beer||5 Litres||1.50 CHF / bottle||none as long as for personal use|
|Spirits||1 Litre||15 CHF / Litre||5 Litres|
|Within EU||Wine||90 Litres||tax varies by EU country||none as long as for personal use|
|Sparkling||90 Litres||tax varies by EU country||none as long as for personal use|
|Beer||110 Litres||tax varies by EU country||none as long as for personal use|
|Spirits||10 Litres||tax varies by EU country||10 Litres|
All the info provided above is to the best of our knowledge. We do not take any responsibility for the accuracy and topicality of the info and rates. Please take it as guidance only. It is best to check with your airline and government's customs office for the latest regulations.
We'd love to hear about your personal experience with traveling with wine internationally. Also, please feel free to email us if you spot any factual mistakes in the above guide.
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