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Shipping Wine to the US

Charlotte, North...
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Shipping Wine to the US

Hey, can anyone clarify the customs / expenses associated with shipping wine (or other liquors) to the US from NZ? I'm taking a three week trip to the South Island in November and hoped to visit a winery or two [or ten :-) ] while there.

First, how much are you allowed to bring back with you in your luggage? I recently traveled to Mexico and found the limit to be two bottles per person. Is this the same in NZ?

Second, can I circumvent this limitation by shipping wine back to my home? I'm considering shipping a case back as gifts for friends (and for my personal repeated enjoyment!). Is this possible? What kind of expenses are there? Taxes for shipping out of the country? How much might the freight cost?

Thanks for any input!

Wellington, New...
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1. Re: Shipping Wine to the US


You will need to check the US customs website for what you are allowed to bring back into the USA without paying duty (it is the country you are entering that dictates the rules, rather than the country you are leaving).

You will find that most wineries have mailing lists and will ship wine internationally. The cost of freight will vary, most also have websites that you should be able to order from. They should also be able to advise you of where you can buy their wine in the USA.

New Zealand
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2. Re: Shipping Wine to the US

I think it will be pretty much a "dry" return home! You are only allowed 1 litre of any alcoholic beverage, obviously this includes wine.

One of our clients who used to visit NZ frequently had problems sending wine directly back to the States (in his case CA for a friend & Hawaii for himself) due to US FDA regulations, you need to have a license number for wine imports. He overcame this by getting his local wine merchant (who he had a close relationship with :) to except his 2 or 3 cartons. He then collected them from him once arrived- no doubt with a small handling fee!

USA Mail prohibits alcohol being sent by mail (we have had this problem also when trying to arrange a delivery of 6 bottles for another client in Miami).

Not sure if anything has changed, this was approx 3 years ago.

Bainbridge Island...
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3. Re: Shipping Wine to the US

ok, I hope US Customs doesn't come track me down, but here's what we did in Dec 05:

You are allowed 2 bottles per adult (technically it's 1 litre each). We brought 9 home (all carried on the plane -- although my husband carried them -- they were heavy!!). We declared them to US Customs, and they let us go through the green line -- no duty paid at all! Having done this, we told our friends, and in Feb 06 they also carried 9 bottles back, declared them, and were greenlighted. We both came home via LAX. (The 9 bottles is coincidental, but's it's really about all a guy can easily haul in a carryon.)

Here's the thing people rarely do: calculate the duties! They are in fact very cheap, so even if Customs wants to charge you, it's only 3%, so not much (depending on your tastes in wine!). In our case this would have been only about $7!!, total Our feeling is that US Customs has better things to do than stop people in line and have them pay a little bit, so they just let you go.

If you do want to ship a case, all of the larger wineries offer this service, but the costs for shipping/customs alone on this route is $250 - 350 per case!! (Again, not including the wine!!) Plus, this way you must buy wine from one winery, and if you carry your own back you can have wine from several.

Go for it!

Rochester Hills...
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4. Re: Shipping Wine to the US

We found that the several wineries we visited all sold their wine in the USA through local distributors. Some distributors were even as convenient as the local Trader Joe's and Cost Plus World Market. All of the wineries we visited gave us a list of their US distributors. This proved to be much more practical.