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Bringing liquor home from Bahamas


KJ1231
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Cruising this weekend on Enchantment to Nassau and Freeport (replaced CocoCay). My son-in-law's father asked me to get him some liquor that he can't get in the states. I've not had a drink in years and have never purchased liquor and brought it home. That said:

  1. He's asked for 4 1-litre bottles of a Ricardo Coconut Rum. I know I will have to "turn it in" when we reboard the ship. They will return it on the last day and we have to carry it off? Or the evening before so we can pack it? 
  2. I am clueless when it comes to declaring alcohol for customs. I believe I can bring back up to 5 litres duty-free? Does that mean I don't have to document it? Or document it and don't have to pay?
  3. I'm assuming there are no issues (other than weight) of packing the bottles in our luggage for the flight back from Florida to PA?

Any help or suggestions (including a store near the port in Nassau) would be greatly appreciated! Ken

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2 minutes ago, KJ1231 said:

They will return it on the last day and we have to carry it off? Or the evening before so we can pack it? 

Yes, last day so you can pack it.

2 minutes ago, KJ1231 said:

I am clueless when it comes to declaring alcohol for customs. I believe I can bring back up to 5 litres duty-free? Does that mean I don't have to document it? Or document it and don't have to pay?

Here's US Customs and Border Protection info:

As a general rule, travelers to Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) countries are allowed a $800 duty-free exemption on their return to the U.S. You may include two liters of alcoholic beverages with this $800 exemption, as long as one of the liters was produced in one of the CBI countries.

The duty exemption for travelers returning from the U.S. Virgin Islands is $1,600. You may include 1,000 cigarettes as part of this exemption, but at least 800 of them must have been acquired in the U.S. Virgin Islands (keep your receipt). You may include five liters of alcoholic beverages in your duty-free exemption, but one of them must be a product of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, or American Samoa.

4 minutes ago, KJ1231 said:

I'm assuming there are no issues (other than weight) of packing the bottles in our luggage for the flight back from Florida to PA?

Yes, in checked luggage.

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8 minutes ago, Matt said:

As a general rule, travelers to Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) countries are allowed a $800 duty-free exemption on their return to the U.S. You may include two liters of alcoholic beverages with this $800 exemption, as long as one of the liters was produced in one of the CBI countries.

Thanks, Matt!

How much of a hassle, then, is it to bring back 4 liters? Believe it or not, he offered me $500 to bring back 4 bottles (I would never take that much!) so he is willing to pay costs and I guess for my time. I'm assuming there is some form I'll have to fill out an declare them? Do I have to produce them? i.e. open the luggage and show them? If it's too much of a hassle I may just give him the 2.

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55 minutes ago, KJ1231 said:

Thanks, Matt!

How much of a hassle, then, is it to bring back 4 liters? Believe it or not, he offered me $500 to bring back 4 bottles (I would never take that much!) so he is willing to pay costs and I guess for my time. I'm assuming there is some form I'll have to fill out an declare them? Do I have to produce them? i.e. open the luggage and show them? If it's too much of a hassle I may just give him the 2.

think that rule is per person, but I could be wrong.

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1 hour ago, Orange Crush said:

Pack it carefully!  I've had leakage from otherwise sealed bottles that has gotten on my clothes before.

Take a look on amazon for something similar to WineHero.  They are bubble wrap type leak proof bags.  Just check that the size works for the bottles you want to buy.

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19 hours ago, monctonguy said:

I bring back alcohol all the time as its crazy expensive in Canada..I just throw it in my suitcase..never broken in over 30 trips to the Caribbean and cruises....

I've never had a break, just some leakage out of the cap--it was a screw-top so I figure it either got loosened a bit or had a faulty seal.  Tasted just fine. :10_wink:

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  • 2 years later...
7 minutes ago, stevendom57 said:

If they bring the bottles to your cabin on the last night, can you open those suckers up and do a "taste test"?

Yep, you could finish her off, even! They just don't want you buying liquor in port and then not buying drinks on board throughout the cruise. On the last night they'll take their losses I guess. 

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On 3/6/2019 at 1:24 PM, melski94 said:

Take a look on amazon for something similar to WineHero.  They are bubble wrap type leak proof bags.  Just check that the size works for the bottles you want to buy.

+1 Wine hero.  I’ve used them and they’re awesome-leak proof and reusable.  Going to use them to carry on my 2 bottles of wine onto the cruise and then use it for carry off my duty free, if I find any good bourbon. 

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We have purchased alcohol lots of times and exceeded our customs limit.  We always declare it to customs but have only been charged duty one time…It was still was cheaper then buying in the US.   All the other times the customs agent just looked at our paperwork and let us proceed.  We were told one time by as Customs Agent that as long as we declare it and not try to hide it…It was up to the agent on if they wanted to charge a duty.

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On 10/30/2021 at 11:14 AM, Psycho and Barb said:

We have purchased alcohol lots of times and exceeded our customs limit.  We always declare it to customs but have only been charged duty one time…It was still was cheaper then buying in the US.   All the other times the customs agent just looked at our paperwork and let us proceed.  We were told one time by as Customs Agent that as long as we declare it and not try to hide it…It was up to the agent on if they wanted to charge a duty.

About how much should I expect to be charged if I do get charged?

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I have brought lots of alcohol through customs, never paid a duty. As previously stated, it is up to the customs agent. I once brought back 8 bottles of Tortuga rum from Nassau, the agent said as long as it was less than 10 bottles he wouldnt charge a duty. Others really havent cared, so YMMV. Import duties are $2-$3/bottle of liquor.

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If you declare your alcohol, they generally don't want to deal with the paperwork to collect a few dollars.  But if you declared a LOT of alcohol, they still might or might not do it.

If you don't declare your alcohol and nobody notices, you're probably not even the first that day.  But if they do notice, they will be much more interested in filling out that paperwork for duties AND fines.

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Texas must be different. I came back with 4 bottles. There was a sign pointing to the right, where you go if you have booze to declare. Just about everyone, even those openly carrying the cardboard bottle holders, turned left and didn't pay. Being to scared of the long arm of the law I went right. Doing that cost me about $17, if I remember. There was no "oh, it's just a few bottles, have a good day".

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1 hour ago, stevendom57 said:

Texas must be different. I came back with 4 bottles. There was a sign pointing to the right, where you go if you have booze to declare. Just about everyone, even those openly carrying the cardboard bottle holders, turned left and didn't pay. Being to scared of the long arm of the law I went right. Doing that cost me about $17, if I remember. There was no "oh, it's just a few bottles, have a good day".

Thanks, Texas Legislature/TABC... Texas liquor excise taxes are ridiculous. $2.40 per gallon of spirits. 

In other words, most people do not declare any of it when coming back into Galveston. 

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I've always declared everything with USCBP because if you don't and get caught once you are red flagged and will be in secondary screening on all future border crossings.

However with facial recognition used at many cruise ports now you are never asked if you have anything to declare.  

TABC is another matter.  I don't buy alcohol on cruise from Galveston because of it.  Even if transiting through Texes you are supposed to declare it and screw that.  I always have cruises booking from Florida so it's just easier not buying booze on Texas cruises.

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