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Nov 7, 2008 06:29 AM

Getting through customs (from Italy)

I'm heading to Tuscany in 2 weeks for the first time and I'm very excited. A couple years ago, someone had a thread of what was allowed to bring through customs from various countries (they worked for the department.) Unfortunately, I can no longer find this thread. Furthermore, in this day and age of increasing restrictions on the airline, what can I bring back into the country? I'm not intending on meats or cheeses. But what about limits for alcohol (I'm willing to pay duties on it, but I'd like to know how much they charge). Are there any for olive oil or other fluids? Honey?

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  1. I haven't gone to the customs site but I'm pretty sure the $ limit is still $400 duty free and probably two liters of wine. You can check that out. But the problem is that you're still limited to 3 oz. containers of liquids in your carryon. I read that this is going to be relaxed some next year. But that will rule out carrying on wine or olive oil. We've successfully (meaning without breaking) put wine in our checked bags by wrapping the dickens out of it. It used to be easier before the more stringent weight limits. We had a large, hard-sided suitcase which gave more protection. With soft-sided luggage, no matter securely packed, a well landed blow could break just about anything. I suppose you could repack olive oil into a less breakable container. I've never looked into shipping. I imagine that's extremely expensive but don't know that for sure. I don't know if honey counts as a liquid or not but those are easy enough to put in large zipping bags and pack in checked bags. Good luck. I'm sure your memories will make up for anything you can't actually bring back with you.

    1. Actually, many cheeses are fine. Just not fresh, soft ones. I brought back a small pecorino and some truffled hard cheeese with no problems and more recently a good hunk of superb Parmesan.

      1. Whenever I come back from Austria (To Canada), I load up on Pumpkin Seed oil, jams and honey.
        Have had no problems here.

        Besides packing issues, I would not worry too much about customs, as their primary goal is ( and should be) to catch real bad people. Not foodies.

        1 Reply
        1. re: worldwidestuff

          I agree. Just bring back what you like. I've brought in a huge chunk of aged gouda (wrapped in wax paper, not shrink wrapped), a bag of loose, shredded dried beef (from Vietnam), loads of grappa and wine (far more than the "allowed" limit). I usually just say I've got a bottle of something and some canned mushrooms, truffles, etc.... No one's ever asked to look. Sure, I might have been lucky, but I doubt it. Just make sure to pack your bottle well; it can be done. I'd say putting something hard-ish (slipper sole, carboard, etc) between bottles is more important than having a hard case. The chance of a "well-landed blow" is probably less than two bottles in your bag banging up against each other.

        2. I agree with previous posters. Your problem is not the customs, its the airlines handling your luggage. You have to check your liquids in, you cant take them on board. Get a hard shell suitcase. I also wrap my wine bottles in bubble foil and / or towels. Some wineries will sell you polystyrene packs for the bottles, which are very usefull.
          You did not ask but since you are going to Tuscany, I must recommend one winery and one olive oil to you - we go back for more every year: wine "Il Colombaio di Cencio"
          and olive oil from Castello di Cacchiano (very much nearby, no web page). Have a nice trip!

          1. I went with an extra suitcase for food. Brought back parmesean, grappa, wine, plenty of olive oil, pannetone, arborio rice, porcini mushrooms, chocolate, gray salt... No problems bringing it in, but because I just wrote "food" on my declarations, I had to wait in the long line instead of breezing through.

            1 Reply
            1. re: thinks too much

              Congratulation. You did it.
              Hope you enjoyed the trip.