For a long time I have wondered what was the maximum quantity of liquor I could bring back from holidays. I lived in different countries and it has never been very clear to me. The worst is that there is always one of your friends who strongly believes he knows the answer (and is often wrong).
Therefore I decided to research, and write this article to share with you the limits* depending on the country you are flying back to, with, as often as possible, links to local authorities.You will find below a table with the different limits (let me know in the comments if you need your country to be added).

Overall the main misconception is because there are 3 different limits:

  • Carry-on limit
  • Duty-free limit
  • Checked bag limit

Most of the time people will provide the duty-free limit, and you then do not feel confident about bringing back these 6 amazing bottles of rum you tasted in your caribbean vacation. However the actual laws that define what you can or cannot bring back depends on the import laws.

Examples:
USA
You are allowed to bring back up to 5 liters (1.3 gallons) of alcoholic beverages in between 24% and 70% inside your checked bag. Under 24% there is no limit (yes, you can bring all the wine bottles you want, as long as they fit and do not exceed your bag weight limit). But the duty-free limit is only 1 liter. So you might have to pay an extra 3$ per bottle above the duty-free limit, but when you come back with amazing rums that might be a good trade-off!

European Union
You can bring back up to 10 liters of spirits (in between 22% and 80%) in your checked bag if you are coming back from a country that is also part of the EU. But from any other place you can only bring back 1 liter, which is also the duty-free limit. Many people reported having brought back much more, but it does not mean you can legally do it!

Country (where you fly back to) Duty free limit Tax (above duty free) Maximum limit (checked luggage) Links
USA 1 Liter (34 oz) $2-$3 / bottle 5 Liters TSA Site
Canada 1.14 L (40 oz) Vary by province, can calculate here Apparently none but taxes add up quickly! Travel.gc.ca
Australia 2.25 L 49% of pre-VAT value 5 L Homeaffairs.gov.au
Switzerland 1 liter 15 CHF / liter 5 L Ch.ch
Europe 1 L (10L from EU Countries) tax varies by EU country 1 L (10L from EU Countries) Europa.eu
UK 1 L £28.74 per L of pure alcohol Recommended not to exceed 10L Gov.uk
Alcoholic duty tax

Disclaimer

* Information provided in this page is informative only, and provided to the best of our knowledge at the time of writing. Rum Social Club is not responsible for errors and changes in legislation. You should always check directly with your airline and local government for up-to-date information.

Olivier Raynaut

Author Olivier Raynaut

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