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drdaniel5

Bringing Absinthe back into the US

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Greetings, my brother just purchased a bottle of Berthe De Joux for me in Berlin and I was wondering if there is anything he needs to do to ensure that it does not get stolen from him by customs when he gets back. I've pointed out to him that customs says absinthe that follows all the ttb regulations are fine but I'm not sure if the customs officials will know that. So any further advice to make sure the bottle makes it home?

Edited by drdaniel5

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Technically, the Berthe de Joux probably won't meet TTB standards; not because of what's in the bottle, but because of what's on the label. Alcohol coming into the country has to have certain mandatory information on the label and the class and type of spirit must be identified correctly.

 

That's technically. It's just a crap-shoot whether a given agent will decide to make a big deal out of it.

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In 2007 I had customs agents tell me how cool a large tarantula corpse we were bringing back from Thailand was before they put it back in the bag and let us through. It's almost as if we made their day from the boring ho-hum of what is usually declared.

 

However, the security checkpoints missed the 20 spare Xacto blades that were in an art bag in our carry-on (oops) until the very last of 8 checkpoints, on our way from Dallas to Denver.

 

Concerning airport security and customs... how good are you at rolling dice?

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Remove the absinthe label then put a Vodka label on the bottle. If it's a clear bottle with an obvious green liquid, put a label for a green liqueur or schnaps like Chartreuse.

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I'd say the risk involved in mailing it is higher. Unless you use a recognised courier company and even then you could have a problem.

 

The latest official information (7/30/2013) on bringing back absinthe is here:

 

1. Can I import Absinthe into the U.S.?

The importation of Absinthe and any other liquors or liqueurs that contain an excess of Artemisia Absinthium is prohibited. Please contact the Food and Drug Administration at (301) 594-3150, for further information on what percentage is allowable.

 

However this is not exactly the same as earlier information (first posted in 2009), which states:

 

2. Absinthe (Alcohol)

The importation of absinthe is subject to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations (21 C.F.R. 172.510 and the Department of the Treasury's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau regulations (27 C.F.R. Parts 13.51, 5.42(a), and 5.65. The absinthe content must be "thujone free" (that is, it must contain less than 10 parts per million of thujone); the term "absinthe" cannot be the brand name; the term "absinthe" cannot stand alone on the label; and the artwork and/or graphics cannot project images of hallucinogenic, psychotropic or mind-altering effects. Absinthe imported in violation of these regulations is subject to seizure.

This is what Gwydion refers to, and this is why when I travel to the USA with my absinthes, I ALWAYS have a copy of my USA approvals., since the customs officers aren't always up-to-date in their knowledge on this.

I always recommend honesty. The penalty for dishonesty with customs is a whole lot worse than paying duty or confiscation. The US customs form does not, however, ask you to spell out the type of drink or brand name. Technically you can just say 1 x 70 cl bottle of liquor and the value/cost (if the form asks that). Of course, your brother may have a lot of other things he is bringing back, and then may get assessed on the total value.

 

One other thought: you could ask Emile Pernot to give you a letter stating that the recipe of BDJ complies with US Customs laws (at least the first advice above).

Edited by Alan Moss

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When I carried a few bottles home from Paris last year I did just what Alan mentions -- declared bottles of "liquor" with size and cost. No one asked for further details and my bag was not inspected.

But that doesn't mean yours won't be. It's entirely up to the individual agent's discretion. That said, I haven't had a bag search in years. They seem to be rather cursory these days, as long as there's nothing about your appearance, attitude, and declaration form to make them suspicious.

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Well I'm glad to say they didn't look through his bags and I'm now sipping on a glass of Berthe De Joux. Thanks for the moral support everyone.

 

 

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