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Feb 19, 2010 07:44 PM

wine from USA to France in checked luggage

My husband is going back to France to see family next week, we realized that we have quite a few people for whom we want to bring a bottle of wine, and will definitely exceed the limit (no matter how high it is).

So what is the limit (legally)?

What happens if you exceed it (do you pay taxes on the surplus/ do they just not let you bring it at all?)

How tight are they in inspecting/ enforcing the limit?

I know that you can bring 1L to the US duty-free and are supposed to pay tax for more, but no one has ever stopped me to make me pay.

p.s. just ranting: isn't it ridiculous that Air France's international economy travelers can only bring 1 checked luggage?!!! 50LB that's it!!!

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    1. re: magiesmom

      Erm, hardly. Wines vary based on terroir and if one is interested in wines tasting a variety is always enjoyable. There are a range of wines available in Europe, but I find that the Californians can be harder to source, or more expensive when one finds them. Ultimately, taxes and snobbery combine to exclude wines from the available selection.
      Yes, there are a good many lovely French wines. Same goes for the New World. People in the old world are sometimes keen to taste something new and harder to find. Not coals to Newcastle unless your idea of wine is that it is an interchangeable source of fuel.

      1. re: Lizard

        exactly... There may not be as high a concentration of great wines per sq. ft. of land in California when compared to France, but lots of great wines do exist and people do appreciate great wines from far away that's different from what they have.

    2. Here's the import info:

      Here's the Air France baggage allowancee info

      Like almost every other airline on the planet now, you can bring (almost) as many bags as you please, but you have to pay. The more an airplane weighs, the more fuel it burns and therefore the more it costs to fly it. That's the rationale. And considering how poorly all the airlines are doing, I think it's a small price to pay. And I could live for months with 50# of "stuff."

      3 Replies
      1. re: c oliver

        aha! so their limit is 2L instead of the 1L here. Thank you c oliver! It still doesn't say what happens when you have more...if he's lucky, we'll never find out.

          1. re: kerosundae

            I have taken wine through customs on numerous occasions. I usually take a case (12 bottles) and pack it very well with bubble wrap then check it in (I only ever lost one bottle). I declare it it as I go through customs and usually get waved through. At CDG in Paris the customs procedures seem less onerous than many other countries, but my logic is that honesty tends to be well received and you are let through without extra chages, but if you get caught abusing the regs you may face a hard time.

            My guess is you won't be charged extra duty, after all wine is generally cheaper in France than the US, and I don't believe French wine is heavily taxed (compared to other countries). If you are charged duty it won't be a lot. But if you don't declare it they can fine you and confiscate it. But I suspect the customs agents may be concerned about your sanity importing wine to France but as Lizard says the Terroir is different and I used to bring in Australian wine to Paris.

            French bureaucracy is a nightmare, they love it, so if caught doing something wrong it isn't a good place to be.

        1. There are three potential "limits" that you should be aware of: (1) duty free limit (1L per person), (2) personal use/gift limit - subjective, but unusual quantities may get stopped and customs may require a permit to bring in commercial quantities, and (3) state limit - some states have limits about how much alcohol you can bring into the state without a dealer license (this will depend on the state in which you arrive into the US with the alcohol).

          When you have more than the limit, you must declare it, and pay the duty and tax. My understanding is that if you don't declare it, it's subject to seizure and you can have civil and criminal penalties.

          Check out the customs website and call them if you have any more questions. Don't try to sneak them in without declaring - it just taxes the border resources and could get your hubby into a bunch of trouble.

          1 Reply
          1. re: akq

            Re-read the OP and totally had it backwards....sorry. Didn't realize you were taking US wine to France.

          2. Assuming it works like it does coming home to Canada, don't be confused between duty or import fee free limits, which are very low and actual limits. To Canada the limit for bringing in wine is very high (over a dozen bottles for sure); we brought back over a dozen last trip to France...mind you we started with 19....a few broke along the way. We paid a modest duty and tax over the limit. Still a real deal. I would think the rules are comparable, but I don't know that. The link above appears only to limit duty free. Declare EVERYTHING. We do and have never paid more than $100 on thousands of dollars of imports. My last trip from London I brought in meat I bought at Heathrow and declared it. The sniffer dog came through and found problem as I declared it. The border guard actually seemed surprised I had declared it and gave me a lecture anyways about what would happen if I had not declared I guess I spoiled her fun.

            1. I regularly take 4-6 bottles of wine to/from UK and US. My husband and I split them between our two large suitcase. Plus, I sometimes pick up another 1-2 bottles duty free after security. It means I can bring enough CA wines to give as gifts to family and friends and conversely, we can bring back several European wines which are more affordable bought in Europe or impossible to find in the US.

              1 Reply
              1. re: SeoulQueen

                Be careful about picking up wine in duty free if if you aren't on a non-stop flight to your final destination. IF for example you fly Paris to Chicago you're fine, however if you're going Paris to Chicago then on to Boise, you'll clear customs in Chicago and have to go back through security to continue on to Boise. If you can't repack the wine into your checked bags you'll be leaving it at the checkpoint (unless they're only 3 oz bottles).