Tobacco Products: Passengers/travelers may import previously
exported tobacco products only in quantities not exceeding the
amounts specified in exemptions for which the traveler qualifies.
Any quantities of restricted tobacco products not permitted by an
exemption will be seized and destroyed. These items are typically
purchased in Duty Free Stores, on carriers operating
internationally, or in foreign stores. These items are usually
marked "Tax Exempt. For Use Outside the U.S.," or "U.S. Tax Exempt
For Use Outside the U.S."
For example, a returning resident is eligible for the $400
exemption, which includes 200 cigarettes. If the resident declares
400 previously exported cigarettes, the resident would be permitted
200 cigarettes, tax-free under the exemption and the remaining 200
restricted cigarettes would be confiscated. If the resident declares
400 cigarettes, of which 200 are restricted and 200 non-restricted,
the resident would be permitted to import the 200 restricted
cigarettes tax free under the exemption and the resident would be
charged duty and tax on the remaining 200 unrestricted cigarettes.
Alcoholic Beverages: One liter (33.8 fl. oz.) of alcoholic
beverages may be included in your exemption if
- You are 21 years old.
- It is for your own use or as a gift.
- It does not violate the laws of the state in which you arrive.
Federal regulations allow you to bring back more than one liter
of alcoholic beverage for personal use, but, as with extra tobacco,
you will have to pay duty and Internal Revenue Service tax.
While Federal regulations do not specify a limit on the amount of
alcohol you may bring back for personal use, unusual quantities are
liable to raise suspicions that you are importing the alcohol for
other purposes, such as for resale. Customs officers are authorized
by Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) make on the spot
determinations that an importation is for commercial purposes, and
may require you to obtain a permit to import the alcohol before
releasing it to you. If you intend to bring back a substantial
quantity of alcohol for your personal use, you should contact the
Customs port you will be re-entering the country through, and make
prior arrangements for entering the alcohol into the U.S. Having
said that, you should be aware that……
State laws may limit the amount of alcohol you can bring in
without a license. If you arrive in a state that has limitations on
the amount of alcohol you may bring in without a license, that state
law will be enforced by Customs, even though it may be more
restrictive then Federal regulations. We recommend that you check
with the state government before you go abroad about their
limitations on quantities allowed for personal importation and
additional state taxes that might apply.
In brief, for both alcohol and tobacco, the quantities discussed
in this booklet as being eligible for duty-free treatment may be
included in your $400 (or $600 or $1,200) exemption, just as any
other purchase would be. But unlike other kinds of merchandise,
amounts of alcohol and unrestricted cigarettes, beyond those
discussed here as being duty-free are taxed, even if you have not
exceeded, or even met, your personal exemption. For example, if your
exemption is $400 and you bring back three liters of wine and
nothing else, two of those liters will be dutiable. Federal law
prohibits shipping alcoholic beverages by mail within the United
$600 ExemptionIf you are returning directly from any one of the following 24
Caribbean Basin countries, your customs exemption is $600:
||Saint Kitts and
||Saint Vincent and the
You may include two liters of alcoholic beverages with this $600
exemption, as long as one of the liters was produced in one of the
countries listed above (see section on unaccompanied purchases from
insular possessions and Caribbean Basin Countries).
Travel to More Than One Country
If you travel to a U.S. possession and to one or more of the
Caribbean countries listed above (for example, on a Caribbean
cruise), you may bring back $1,200 worth of items without paying
duty. But only $600 worth of these items may come from the Caribbean
country(ies); any amount beyond $600 will be dutiable unless you
acquired it in one of the insular possessions.
For example, if you were to travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands and
Jamaica, you would be allowed to bring back $1,200 worth of
merchandise duty-free, as long as only $600 worth was acquired in
Jamaica. (Keeping track of where your purchases occurred and having
the receipts ready to show the Customs inspectors will help speed
your clearing Customs.)
If you travel to any of the Caribbean countries listed above and
to countries where the standard personal exemption of $400
applies—for example, a South American or European country—up to $400
worth of merchandise may come from the non-Caribbean country. For
instance, if you travel to Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago, your
exemption is $600, only $400 of which may have been acquired in
$1,200 ExemptionIf you return directly or indirectly from a U.S. insular
possession (U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, or Guam), you are
allowed a $1,200 duty-free exemption. You may include 1,000
cigarettes as part of this exemption, but at least 800 of them must
have been acquired in an insular possession. Only 200 cigarettes may
have been acquired elsewhere. For example, if you were touring the
South Pacific and you stopped in Tahiti, American Samoa, and other
ports of call, you could bring back five cartons of cigarettes, but
four of them would have to have been bought in American Samoa.
Similarly, you may include five liters of alcoholic beverages in
your duty-free exemption, but one of them must be a product of an
insular possession. Four may be products of other countries (see
section on unaccompanied purchases from insular possessions and
Caribbean Basin Countries).