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Can I take sake back to US? 2008/8/27 05:30
Hi. I'll be traveling to Japan in couple of weeks. Will visit many different places. I'm a big fan of Sake so wineries are on my list. But I have a question about bringing back some Sake. Since I'm living in New York, is it at all possible for me bring back some bottles? If so, what is the limit? I'm not planning to resell, just for friends family and personal consumption. I'll also be traveling with my native Japanese companion, can she bring back some Sake as well?

Any help will be greatly appreciated.
by Daniil  

... 2008/8/27 09:30
you can bring in up to a liter of alcohol duty free. You can bring more in but you will have to pay duty on it.

I believe that you friend has the same duty free limits (although I'm not clear on this).

Here's the US Customs publication with the info you're looking for:

by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

... 2008/8/27 11:11
I'm sure you are aware of the carry-on liquid restriction for air travel - so if you buy sake bottles while traveling in Japan, those will need to be checked in in your suitcase, not carried on board. If you buy some at the duty-free shop at the airport (after you check-in) those can be carried onboard no problem.

Are you taking a direct flight from Japan to NY? If not, please note the restrictions on continental US domestic flights as well.
by ... rate this post as useful

Carry on in Japan & checked in the US 2008/8/29 08:38
The Japanese airlines want you to carry breakables in your carry-on bags. The US doesn't allow this. If you have to make any transfers in the US between International and domestic, and you have to reclear security, you have to put the bottles into your checked luggage. The only chance you have to do this is at customs before your checked luggage disappears again.

If you don't have any checked luggage, your bottles will be confiscated (they sometimes jokingly offer to let you drink them first).

If you have checked luggage, be sure you have a protective box around your sake bottles. I've been able to convince ANA and JA to let the bottles stay in the luggage after they took a peak at how they were packed. When they were in good boxes, they let them through. The one time I had two decent home-brewed shochu without boxes, they made me take them out and wanted me to put them in my hand luggage. I just handed them off to a stranger as I'd already contributed to the US security drinking fund.
by Anaguma rate this post as useful

bringing sake back 2008/8/29 10:44
I agree about the Japanese airlines - they don't like breakables in checked bags. But I've not had U.S. carriers (united or american) ask about it, so if you're not on ANA or JAL you should be okay (check though if you're on a code-share, which airline is actually doing the check-in - I thought I was on American once and turns out it was run by JAL.)
The other thing is be sure to drink up the sake and not keep it too long - six months to a year tops.
by Spendthrift rate this post as useful

Thanks 2008/8/29 22:24
Thank you all for your help! I'll be taking All Nippon Airlines (ANA) from Tokyo to NYC directly and disembark for home. So I guess I can bring only 1 liter of Sake (too little for me lol) and it must be a carry on - that's not too bad, this way I don't need to check anything. BTW, how much is the duty if I bring in more?
by Daniil rate this post as useful

. 2008/8/30 07:21
I'm Japanese, but now a NYer and to be honest, you can buy MANY types of sake here at liquor shops in NYC, many quite good
by Kazuyuki78 rate this post as useful

. 2008/8/30 14:04
The catch is you can't carry it on as carryon, if you buy it before security at Narita Airport, security won't let liquids through.

If you buy it after security then you're fine.

As for 1 liter, you can bring 1 liter duty free, you can bring 10000 liters if you wanted to, as long as you pay duty on it. Or not just declare it (though you face tough penalties if you don't declare something)

Duties are calculated by US Customs, not sure the price, depends on the items check the cbp website.
by John rate this post as useful

... 2008/8/30 14:11
The "one liter" of liquid allowed as carry-on are small lotion bottles and things like that (each has to be under 100ml) that as a TOTAL fits into a zip-lock 1-liter plastic bag. So you will not be able to carry on a "one liter" bottle of sake if bought before airline counter check-in/security. If your favorite brand is a well-known national brand, you're likely to find it at the duty-free shop (after check in and security). If not, buy it in town and put it in your suitcase.
by ... rate this post as useful

sake in the check-in luggage 2008/8/30 16:29
Okay I wasn't going to say this because I can't recommend it and I certainly never have DONE it, really, no, I mean it... but travelling on JAL, I may know of instances in which there was a bottle of wine in the check-in luggage, and when the counter people asked if there was anything breakable, somebody may have said 'no', and then the wine may have gotten on the plane and been fine. The wine may have been well-wrapped in bubble-wrap. But I can neither confirm nor deny this story.
by Spendthrift rate this post as useful

My experiences 2008/8/30 20:20
From Europe to Japan, I have travelled with some liquor bottles in my suitcase - carefully wrapped in shirts and other soft materials and buried right in the middle - and it was fine, I mean, the bottles survived the ride.

Japanese airline people tend to ask if you have any breakables in your suitcase, (by now with the liquid carry-on restriction, sometimes I have no choice but to put my cosmetics into the check-in suitcase anyway) I say yes, but also tell them that well they are carefully wrapped, if they break, that cannot be helped. As long as you don't sound like you are trying to hold them "responsible" in case the bottles break, it's OK.

ANA and their alliance partners used to put "fragile" tag on the bag if you asked for it, but recently on some legs of travel they discontinued it - meaning they don't want to be held responsible. But if you want to take some bottles and take your chance on it - which is good I think - wrap them carefully, and check them in :)
by AK rate this post as useful

Limits 2008/11/21 22:29
I work for a duty free company and the companies tell your legal limit but you can take anything above that at your own risk. Some places allow you to take up to 3 bottles of wine in this case sake as it not legally a spirt i.e vodka, whisky is classed as a spirt, if I am right anything below 20% is classed as wine. If you check the percentage on the bottle also when you fly out at the people at the duty free shops as they will be able to tell you your legal limit that can be taken back into the country.
by Steven rate this post as useful

Good Sake 2008/11/22 03:59
Thank you! The trip went superb and I brought about 12 bottles of Sake back from all the wineries in Kyoto and Kobe. Ah, the joy of Sake! They didn't check my bags for it. Checked them in OK, no questions asked. There was no space on customs forms to declare the alcohol. So I got through w/out any issues.
by Daniil rate this post as useful

hey 2008/12/30 03:25
so did you just put all the sake bottles in your suitcase?
by dvang82 rate this post as useful

yep, just put them in suitcase 2008/12/30 03:37
Yep, I just put lots of sake in my suitcase. They didn't do anything. Same suitcase had two knifes in it which I told about so they ran it through x-ray, but said nothing of a suitcase filled w/ bottles of delicious sake. Gotta love ANA!
by daniil rate this post as useful

. 2008/12/30 15:35
Yes, make sure you have it cushioned (eg around sweaters or something) since it gets rocked around a lot down there in the cargo hold.

Remember it can be only checked luggage not carry-on luggage.
by John rate this post as useful

Cheers 2008/12/31 17:11
I think this calls for drinks all round, frankly.
by Patrick rate this post as useful

mail it 2009/1/4 12:14
just mail it home to make it easy on u cuz homeland security will take it due to liquid resritction
by .... rate this post as useful

. 2009/1/4 15:34
just mail it home to make it easy on u cuz homeland security will take it due to liquid resritction

If it is in carryon luggage yes, if it is in checked luggage they won't.
by John rate this post as useful

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