33 Responses

  1. SFC B at |

    Kind of a zombie post here, but this is an issue I ran across while moving from Europe back to the US.

    There are a couple different factors at play.

    The “1 liter of alcohol” applies to the actual alcohol, not the volume of liquid. So, for ease of math, a 1L bottle that is 50% alcohol is only 500ml of alcohol. That’s why the CBP doesn’t hassle people with two bottles; it’s not over the limit.

    The TSA has different rules because they’re responsible for safety of travel (whether they actually do that is another subject). So high alcohol content and large volumes are restricted because of that.

  2. El Tejon at |

    My understanding, mezcal only since that is my interest, is that it must be sealed in a glass bottle with the cork sealed, heat shrink, and bottle labeled. We came through with a dozen bottles this trip.

    Alan Starkman provided me with that information.

    The limit is for “untaxed” alcohol. You may pay a duty, aka tax, of the overage.

  3. […] First, read Mezcal PhD: […]

  4. […] Read the rest of John’s article… and if you’re ready to make the trek to Oaxaca and the areas like Solo de Vega and Matatlán, to name a few, to experience this wonderful spirit at the source, contact us and we’ll help you work it out. […]

  5. […] Check out his post HERE.  […]

  6. Peter at |

    Thanks John– and your story made me smile.
    In 2003 I spoke at a meeting in Rio de Janeiro, and while there I became crazed with the cachaca selection and prices, and ended up packing 7+ liters into my bags. It was post 911, and I was sporting a dark beard and I guess I was “randomly” selected in Rio to have my bags inspected. They pull you into a room and first look at the x-rays of the bag, and they asked what’s in all those bottles. I said–“cachaca– I really like it!” They were so thrilled about my fondness for the national spirit that they said no further inspection was needed, they apologized, wrapped my bags with yellow “security clearance” tape, and escorted me to the front of the security line. I bought 1.5 liters more at duty free ( to calm me down ) , and then happily walked through customs in the US with my security clearance bags, and tons of artisinal cachaca!

  7. Jack at |

    Interesting old post by Camper English of Alcademics on this exact subject http://www.alcademics.com/2012/03/packing-booze-airline-liquor-regulations.html

  8. Tom vd Bout at |

    Now I’ll consider the five confiscated bottles a public service, as well as a happy Friday night for those five AeroMexico employees!

  9. CocktailMD at |

    I brought back a case and change, declared it (be sure to scribble an alcohol content on there somewhere if it isn’t already there, just make it up), and the customs guy looked at it, said “you really aren’t supposed to bring that much back,” looked at the line behind me, clearly decided he didn’t feel like doing the paperwork to charge me twenty bucks or whatever it would have been, and said “just don’t bring so much next time” and waved me through.

  10. ken at |

    Thanks for the post, John! No idea if this is true or not, but I’ve heard of people getting their mezcals taken from them before boarding the plane from OAX to the US. That said, I don’t know whether or not these folks accurately specified what they were bringing back, or whether the bottles were properly sealed for export.

    I, myself, have had no problem bringing mezcal back to the US in large quantities, however, my Oaxaca flights were always domestic within Mexico; I’ve always flown from Mexico City back to the US.

    One other thing to add with regards to import laws is that things differ depending on the vessel in which you cross the US border. Weirdly, depending on the state through which you enter, airplane travel often allows for a lot more than car travel.

  11. anonymous at |

    Wake up and praise the heavens every morning that you don’t live in Canada. You’re allowed only to bring 1.14 liters of alcohol into this highly overrated northern nation. Bring anything more and they’ll ding you with 170%+ taxes on whatever you purchased, meaning your lovely $100 Tobala becomes a lot more expensive.

    1. scott Thomas at |

      Just keep reminding yourself – your healthcare is “free”.

  12. Ricardo at |

    So, are you sharing the list of Mezcals you brought back?

  13. MezcalReview at |

    Good article! I often bring back between 10-15 750ml bottles from Oaxaca via Houston to Sacramento. I am yet to have a problem. I pack them in wine skins & dirty clothes. When checking the luggage at the airline counter they often ask if I have Mezcal- to which I reply NO. I do this because once bringing wine from California to Oaxaca I confessed to having wine and they made me purchase special boxes and repack the bottles before they would accept my luggage. On the customs form I say I have around 200 dollars of merchandise – I never fill out the part specifying what- its on the back and many people don’t see it anyway. If they ask me in customs what I have a say “some Tequila”- they are yet to ask me how many bottles.

  14. Mike Jones at |

    Thanks, John,

    Heading south on Wednesday. We’re going thru Houston on United, so tell me more about Papasito’s ! We’ll have time to kill there Thursday morning. We’ll be in OAX from the 14th until the 19th, shopping & tasting 🙂

  15. Mario at |

    Very Nice!
    PS: a little butt-kissing in conjunction with absolute accuracy of bottle quantity declaration can go a long way at US Customs. While they did open the plastic wrap of one bag to inspect, the number of bottles/liter quantity in the bag matched my declaration…they didn’t open my other two bags. Be straight my friends!

  16. Craig denton at |

    Just bring some of it to Vail. Rushmore missed out on a good time, yet I’m sure his liver is better for it.

  17. Colleen at |

    Do you recommend putting Mezcal in plastic water bottles in your luggage too?

    1. Hugo at |

      Probably not a good idea as filled, unlabeled bottles in your luggage WILL look suspicious, you may end up in deep trouble. Plus, your mezcal may pick unwanted odors/flavors… As Mario says, just be straight, even if you have to pay $19 in tax, it’s not that much for something you cannot get at all in the US.


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