update I could smuggle two small bottles in my big suitcase.

The rice alcohol with a snake in it is being sold in most souvenir shops, I finally bought it today on my last day in Vietnam because it’s not expensive and a friend had told me it’s a local thing and it’d be cool if I brought some back with me. I read online that it is legal to import rice alcohol with a snake inside in small quantities especially since it’s just a rat snake that’s been flattened so that it looks like a cobra to the United States. I’m tempted to assume that the U.S. would have a more strict policy than Europe so I’m good, but still not sure. If anyone knows more about this please share. Thanks

here’s the “snake wine”

  • Should we create a snake-wine tag, considering we also have this question?
    – Golden Cuy
    Aug 19, 2018 at 23:54
  • It does not matter where you put the wine, you will collect your luggage before going through customs. And if you are aware you smuggle it is rather likely you will show it in your face or behavior. And when caught smuggling, you will have to pay fines. Better to find a customs officer and ask whether you can take the bottle(s) in. You may have to hand them in but you will not get a fine.
    – Willeke
    Aug 22, 2018 at 16:40

2 Answers 2

  1. FYI, according to the information you can read in Carrying habushu (snake wine) from Japan to USA, it is not so easy to import alcohol with a snake to the U.S.:

the main concern for bringing snake wine into the U.S. when a snake used in the wine that are endangered species, and therefore inadmissible. The wine would have to be inspected by an FWS specialist to determine if the snake was an endangered species.

But it is not the answer to your question.

  1. According to the Wildlife Souvenirs Guide:

When do I need a permit?

If you are an EU citizen returning from your holidays abroad you will only be allowed to bring back souvenirs made from animals and plants listed in CITES and the EU Wildlife Trade if your souvenir:

  • is made from a species that is not included in Annex A of the EU regulations
  • if your souvenir is made of a dead specimen or products
  • is brought back for your own private use and for non-commercial purposes
  • is contained in your personal luggage
  • and you always need an export permit from the country of origin!

You may check up COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 1320/2014 where all these Annexes (A, B, C and D) to the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations are listed. What I see from there: there are three types of these rat snakes in Annexes B and D. Anyhow it should be officially established that it is actually a rat snake and not something else.


If there is any meat in a product you want to import into the EU, you need an import license (and adhere to a hell of regulations).

This doesn't even touch CITES. It's strictly import regulations on meat products. You cannot import them as a tourist or regular foreign sales outlet.

If you had a meat sandwich in your possessions during the customs check, they make you eat it right on the spot, or throw away. I guess you don't want to do that with the snake, neither the booze. Oh, and don't forget you had to declare it if it was more than one liter of spirits you are carrying.

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