Bringing your alcohol stock over the border when you move

You are moving to the US and you are certain you have thought of everything. You have your moving truck, furniture, clothes, and all your travel documents. Many think about all the essentials and even understand the required claim form (Customs Form 6059B “Customs Declaration” for goods traveling with you and Customs Form 3299 “Declaration for Free Entry of Unaccompanied Articles” for goods being brought over by friends, family, mail or delivery company) necessary to bring in your personal belongings when you legally move to the US.

But there are a lot of things that many don’t consider. Recently, I was asked about what one would do when bringing their alcohol collection (yes, collection) to the US. It isn’t something to which many of us give much thought. But when you really think about it, you realize what a practical question it is. After all, we all see the limitations on the amount of alcohol we can bring in when we travel outside the US and visit the Duty Free Shop (if you haven’t been outside the US, take a trip over the border to Niagara Falls, if nothing other than to experience the Duty Free Shop – where everything is cheaper and – you guessed it – TAX FREE!!).

US Residents travelling back to the US after a trip longer than 48 hours are permitted to bring a 1-liter bottle of alcohol duty free for each person 21 years or older. The US Customs and Border Protection enforces this law on behalf of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. They also decide whether or not amounts of  alcohol over the permitted limit is being brought into the US for commercial purposes. And so comes into play how to transfer your treasured liquor stock to the U.S.

Luckily, there is an answer to this question. While each state has its own specific rules for how much alcohol can be brought to the US for personal use without a license, permit, or payment of taxes on the alcohol, the federal government does not limit the amount of alcohol you bring in.

The best thing to do to make sure your alcohol can travel with you to your new home in the US and not incur a fine or tax is to check with the ABC law of the state you are ENTERING (not your final destination) to determine the permitted amount.

Currently, New York State Department of Taxation and Finance allows a person to import up to 360 liters of liquor in a one year period without applying tax on the alcohol. It is important to note that if the amount of alcohol being imported is more than 90 liters at a time, you must complete Form MT-39 no more than 30 days before the date of travel.

So remember, if you are planning to move to the US, you need to contact the State ABC and Tax Department of the state you are entering the US. Yet another aspect of immigration law that ties into everyday life!