Tips for Bringing Home Liquid Souvenirs

BY Michele Goncalves TIMEFebruary 16, 2015 PRINT

I had never heard of Kavalan prior to my trip to Taiwan a few weeks ago. Apparently, it is a highly regarded single malt whiskey that has been made in Taiwan since 2006. During our trip, a colleague of mine received an urgent email from someone back home begging for a bottle or two of this libation. Although the request itself was quite straightforward, it turns out that getting a bottle or two home was not.

Based on my suggestion, I thought it would be a good idea for my colleague to wait and purchase the whiskey at the airport in the Duty Free shops, where it may be cheaper. This was a mistake. I completely forgot that we were going to connect in Tokyo, and because of this fact, it would not be possible to bring liquid souvenirs more than 3.4 ounces (100 ml) through security in Tokyo. Instead, we should have purchased the whiskey outside of the airport and packed it in the checked baggage.

If you plan to bring back alcohol from your travels, here are a few more helpful tips and interesting facts to be aware of:

1. Know your alcohol limits: It turns out that the airline industry does not allow passengers to bring alcohol over 140 proof (70 percent alcohol content) on an airplane, neither in checked luggage nor in a carry-on bag. If you have a big trip to the Caribbean planned, take note that some rum may be over this limit and will be prohibited. Generally, passengers are restricted to a threshold of 5 quarts in their checked luggage for beverages with alcohol content between 24 percent to 70 percent. As for liquor below a 24 percent alcohol content, there are no restrictions on how many bottles you may bring back.

2. Know your customs tax-free limits: Just because an airplane may allow you to bring several bottles of wine in your baggage, it does not mean that all of these bottles will be tax free upon entering your home country. Be sure to study up on the customs duty limits before your trip. If you live in the U.S. each state may have different rules, so do your homework. As a rule of thumb, many countries allow only one quart of alcohol to come into the country free of charge. If you plan to bring more, you must declare it at customs upon arrival and pay any related duty charges and taxes.

3. Plan your packing strategies: If you are traveling to France and anticipate bringing home several bottles of your favorite pinot noir, consider packing bubble wrap in your luggage to ensure safe transport on the way back. Also, it is best to place bottles in the middle of your suitcase, between clothing, to lessen the chance of a break when bag handlers throw your bags on and off the airplane.

As always, I wish you all the happiest of travels!

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