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Old 30-06-2015, 07:28   #1
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alchool on board and customs

hi everybody!

i don't know where to ask this but..it's food related so here we are

you know that every state has import limit for every person for alcholics beverage like wine, beer, ecc...

but if i go outside my country (italy) to a country outside european union, and i have more than the allowed alchool on board but it will remain on board:

1 it's ok because of ship's flag law, the alchool is still in another country, i don't get it out of board...so it's legally not imported.

2 it's against the law and i can say hello to my 4-5 bottle of wine

anyone had problem with this? stories to share?

Thanks everybody
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Old 30-06-2015, 07:49   #2
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Re: alchool on board and customs

The last time I entered Canada from the US, I was told that I only had to declare unopened bottles/cans. The Customs folks were concerned about alcohol that would be left in Canada avoiding the high taxes Canada levies on alcohol.

Alternatively, the alcohol could be bonded, that is locked up and sealed on board while the boat was in Canadian waters. This is really only an option for commercial vessels.

Recently I returned to the US from Italy (by plane). If you bring in more alcohol than allowed (about 1 liter per adult) you would have to pay duty on the remaining alcohol, depending on the alcohol may be a few dollars a bottle.

For the US, there is lots of information on the Customs and Border Patrols website.
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Old 30-06-2015, 07:56   #3
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Re: alchool on board and customs

thanks for the answer...

i was wondering...on a boat is like another country's land...so "in theory" i could keep all the wine that i want, for personal use, obviously, not reselling...it's even not an import for personal use...i use the wine on my boat..different country, not imported on lands...it's ok, i'm in territorial water...so..wich is the right law?

and when you go out from the canadian water do they checked if the number of unopened bottle is the same of when you went in?
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Old 30-06-2015, 08:15   #4
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Re: alchool on board and customs

Quote:
Originally Posted by stefano_ita View Post
thanks for the answer...

i was wondering...on a boat is like another country's land...so "in theory" i could keep all the wine that i want, for personal use, obviously, not reselling...it's even not an import for personal use...i use the wine on my boat..different country, not imported on lands...it's ok, i'm in territorial water...so..wich is the right law?

and when you go out from the canadian water do they checked if the number of unopened bottle is the same of when you went in?
No one checks when I enter or leave.

When I cleared customs at the airport recently, all I did was complete a form and declared that I was not bringing anything into the country. No one checked. However, they did have a food sniffing dog running around. There are many foods that can not be imported into the US and those will be confiscated.
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Old 30-06-2015, 08:20   #5
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Re: alchool on board and customs

yes but this is because you are personally bringing with you alchool or food...but if i left them on boat ? it's like left them in another country.
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Old 30-06-2015, 08:31   #6
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Re: alchool on board and customs

It really depends on the country you enter.
  • Some countries will allow you to seal all your alcohol in a locker, they then check the seal when you leave (you have to have a suitable locker for this)
  • Some places will charge you duty/taxes and send you on your way
  • Some places won't care or ask
  • Some places will confiscate your booze
I've had all of the above happen, sometimes is comes down to your attitude, sometimes to theirs, and sometimes everything is by the book (their book!). Like many laws, you'll have to look at each country as you approach and find out what is (and isn't) permissible.

[Edit] - and yes, your boat is in some senses its flag country, but the locals can require that you only consume local stores while in their country. That's where the sealed locker comes in, they allow you to transit with your "ship's stores", but they want you to spend and consume locally while you are in their waters. [/Edit]
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Old 30-06-2015, 08:41   #7
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Re: alchool on board and customs

thanks disanduril...

p.s. could you please tell me all the country where it happens in your case? thanks a lot

pratically you just have to get information regarding the country you want to visit...

i was about to taste australian wine in alaska and sangsom (thai rum) in iceland and for sure italian wine all around the world
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Old 30-06-2015, 11:55   #8
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Re: alchool on board and customs

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Originally Posted by stefano_ita View Post
it's like left them in another country.
No, it's really not. Your boat is not the "sovereign territory" of your nation in the way that an embassy is. It's just a boat. The country you are visiting can make any laws that they want, and set any rules for importing stuff that they want. When you show up in their country, you are subject to their laws.

Believe me, if you tell them that their laws don't apply because your boat is "another country," they will disagree quite thoroughly, and you may very well get to know a whole lot more about their legal system than you ever wanted to!
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Old 30-06-2015, 12:16   #9
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Re: alchool on board and customs

lol

i'll give them a bottle of italian wine ( 2€ buahah ) and we get friend and i keep all my bottle of good wine

joking apart, i know, well...let's drink everything until 12n\m from destination and go to the custom completely drunk could be an option

ok seriously have a compartement for the wine, that can be sealed by custom and keep everything inside there...and drink only in international water...
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Old 30-06-2015, 12:32   #10
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Re: alchool on board and customs

Go to Countries — Noonsite and look at the country you will visit and see what is posted. I think the Custom section for each country covers alcohol. Might want to check the actual country's website as well.

Later,
Dan
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Old 30-06-2015, 13:55   #11
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Re: alchool on board and customs

Quote:
Originally Posted by stefano_ita View Post
thanks for the answer...

i was wondering...on a boat is like another country's land...so "in theory" i could keep all the wine that i want, for personal use, obviously, not reselling...it's even not an import for personal use...i use the wine on my boat..different country, not imported on lands...it's ok, i'm in territorial water...so..wich is the right law?
I am sure the lawyers will be able to tidy up my story a bit.

That "theory" is false in all the places I now. Your boat is not an embassy. If you are inside territorial waters of country X ("host country") onboard a boat registered in country Y ("flag country") then host country X gets to pick the rules for everything, only subject to what treaties they agreed with flag country (and your country of citizenship). Flag country may also want to apply some of their rules (such as safety equipment) but that will not replace host country rules rules unless host country agreed to that or decided to do that by itself (eg countries that apply comity to foreign boats iw.r.t licensing, safety equipment, etc)) .

Do not let lack of enforcement confuse you into believing false theories. You may get away with fishing without a license or taking in alcohol in excess of what is allowed, but when you are caught you cannot quote a loaw that doe not exist, you just need to play stupid and say you did not know and you are very sorry.
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Old 30-06-2015, 14:42   #12
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Re: alchool on board and customs

Ignorance of the law is no defence in law

Even in the EU if you are transporting alcohol or other dutiable items across a border you may need to declare them to Customs. Yes there are open borders and goods are supposed to be Free Circulation but when it comes to items subject to Excise Duty it is not always that straight forward.

For example; in the UK HMRC can, and have, impounded and destroyed vehicles (cars, vans and I believe boats) where they have reasonable cause to believe people were smuggling alcohol to be resold without duty being paid. There is a clause that states a person is allowed to bring in an amount considered to be "reasonable personal comsumption". It is up to you to prove that a) you paid duty somewhere in the EU and b) that it is for personal use and not for resale.

Given the generally small amount normally carried by most boaters, for example we have 1x vodka, 2x rum, 1x whisky and 1x gin bottles, most Customs officers would consider that to be personal comsumption and proably wave it through. After all your boat is your home. If you were carrying 24 bottles of fine wine, 4 cases of beers and a dozen bottle of whisky they might consider that to be transporting for the purpose of resale.

Safest thing to do is check with the authorities of the country you wish to visit beforehand, either online or call the consulate/embassy. Then when you arrive to clear in declare what you have and accept they might require you to pay some kind of import duty.
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Old 30-06-2015, 17:34   #13
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Re: alchool on board and customs

Quote:
Originally Posted by stefano_ita View Post
lol

i'll give them a bottle of italian wine ( 2 buahah ) and we get friend and i keep all my bottle of good wine

joking apart, i know, well...let's drink everything until 12n\m from destination and go to the custom completely drunk could be an option

ok seriously have a compartement for the wine, that can be sealed by custom and keep everything inside there...and drink only in international water...
How many bottles of wine are we talking about? If you declare 2 bottles and are inspected and they find 3 bottles, it will probably not be a problem.

If you bring in 20 bottles and declare 2 you may have a problem if you get inspected.

The bigger question is why are sailors so cheap? Why risk the hassle and frustrations of a confrontation with customs officials (who are only doing their jobs) over a few Euros or dollars on a few bottles of wine?

So the Customs officers charge you a few Euros, that is a small cost in the total cruising budget. Follow the rules, avoid the problems, enjoy your trip.
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Old 30-06-2015, 17:59   #14
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Re: alchool on board and customs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dsanduril View Post
It really depends on the country you enter.
  • Some countries will allow you to seal all your alcohol in a locker, they then check the seal when you leave (you have to have a suitable locker for this)
  • Some places will charge you duty/taxes and send you on your way
  • Some places won't care or ask
  • Some places will confiscate your booze
I've had all of the above happen...
Boy, you've had a rough time of it! Was this in/around the Pacific?

In twelve years cruising (perhaps 20-25 separate countries?) the Mediterranean and North Atlantic/Caribbean We've never had more than a casual enquiry. If there's a question on the customs-form (usually along the lines of 'spirits - how many litres'? I'd give an approximation based on opened-bottles, the rest I consider are covered under the catch-all of 'ship's stores'. Beyond the odd Customs/Immigration Officer being happy to discretely accept an offered beer during their visit/inspection, nobody's checked/cared anywhere we've been.
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Old 30-06-2015, 20:57   #15
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Re: alchool on board and customs

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Originally Posted by bobnlesley View Post
Boy, you've had a rough time of it! Was this in/around the Pacific?

In twelve years cruising (perhaps 20-25 separate countries?) the Mediterranean and North Atlantic/Caribbean We've never had more than a casual enquiry. If there's a question on the customs-form (usually along the lines of 'spirits - how many litres'? I'd give an approximation based on opened-bottles, the rest I consider are covered under the catch-all of 'ship's stores'. Beyond the odd Customs/Immigration Officer being happy to discretely accept an offered beer during their visit/inspection, nobody's checked/cared anywhere we've been.
Same experience here. Never been questioned/searched. At most have declared it as "ships stores".

A few stray bottles always come in handy...;-)
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