What's the best way to bring them? Do you guys bring an extra suitcase and pack them in that? Do you carry them with you in carry-on luggage? Any thoughts? I'm not trying to avoid customs, just trying to make the carrying of the spirits easiest and safest.
Make sure you pack one bag less than your baggage allowance gives you...get a box at one of the retailers (or better yet, a plastic cooler that you can seal with duct tape), pack your bottles securely in that and check it with the rest of your bags. That way, you can use your carry-on allowance for anything you buy at duty-free...
Have all your receipts in hand, know where all your stuff is, and be forthright on your customs declaration form. Theoretically, anything over a litre will be charged duty at 3%, but I've never been charged. (Watch your dollar limits, too.) They ask a few questions to satisfy themselves that it's for your personal consumption (as opposed to resale), and wave me through. The one thing that won't fly is if they think you're trying to put one over on them. Then they'll likely look for bottles in the most unlikely places.
jeffk wrote:What's the best way to bring them? Do you guys bring an extra suitcase and pack them in that? Do you carry them with you in carry-on luggage? Any thoughts? I'm not trying to avoid customs, just trying to make the carrying of the spirits easiest and safest.
Hi Jeff - not that I've ever travelled with Whisky on the plane in my hundreds of trips back and forth from Alberta - but I have heard tales about people who do so all the time...
"They" find that carry-on works very well... allowing for a bottle weight of 3 lbs. each - and a lightweight gym bag - 6 ~ 7 bottles seems to fit the carry-on restrictions. Tubes or strong boxes do their job - and sometimes the odd piece of foam or cardboard or clothing helps too... (or so I'm told).
As for customs - Mr. T's advice is spot on - and he seems to have a wealth of experience in that department.
I've had some "friends" who have simply shown their receipts and been very straightforward in their details of having bought a few more than the standard limit... and for everyone's benefit that have been waved through by customs...
Another friend did a fair amount of pre-scouting for those harder-to-find-in-North America bottles... and pre-ordered a number of gems to save the hassle of running around. Here were the few recommended shops in London:
- In Soho: "Vintage House" in Old Compton Street.
Covent Garden has a "Cadenheads" (Springbank's independent bottling company's shop).
Near the British Museum: "Royal Mile Whiskies".
I've also heard great praise and recommendations for Loch Fyne Whiskies - as you can order ahead and Richard will make arrangements to have it waiting for you at your hotel... rumour has it...
I've never had a problem with breakage on checked bottles. Just take plenty of tape and bubble wrap with you, and you can also roll some bottles up in clothing.
On my next trip I'll likely drive to Newark and get the direct flight to Glasgow on Continental. That way I can bring in all the bottles that I care to (in the past I've lugged home 30 bottles or so on each trip). It's about a 7 hour drive from my home.
Some off license shops will ship to the USA (Loch Fyne, Royal Mile) so take advantage of that if you can. I've had quite a few parcels come in from them and have never lost a bottle (except one to breakage which was promptly replaced).
Have fun and good luck with your malt logistics!
ALWAYS declare your whisky. If you don't they can confiscate it.
Also, if you bring back a huge number of bottles, they might want you to produce a BATFE import license. 30 bottles once a year can be explained away for personal consumption.
It works like this. When you make your purchases, be sure to ask the merchant for the VAT refund forms. They'll fill it in with info about your purchase and their shop. Collect all your refund forms and be prepared present them at the airport. There's a station by the security check-in point where some official will review and stamp your documents, and after you go thru security, there's a central kiosk by the boarding area where the refunds are given. That's it.
If it's a large refund, they may not have enough money at the kiosk, but I've had retailers call ahead and verify that funds were available. Especially helpful if you're making large purchases on the day of your departure...
My only other suggestion is to leave A LOT of time for this. I underestimated the time it would take to get thru security, so I had to skip getting a refund last time. I was on line to get the refund when the boarding people basically told me I had a choice: Either get a refund or get on the plane but not both.
Good luck with your haul!
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