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I’m currently in Poland for a conference, and I had the idea to bring some żubrówka (bison-grass vodka) back home to the United States with me as a unique souvenir. However, the Wikipedia page linked above says that importation of this spirit into the USA is not allowed due to its coumarin content.

Do these regulations apply only to commercial import for resale, or are tourists banned from bringing the liquor home for personal use as well? If I have a bottle of żubrówka in my luggage on return to the USA, do I risk having it confiscated? Being fined? Imprisonment? (OK, I don’t really think that last option is really on the table.)

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    If you bring the liquor to the US and declare it you might be allowed through, you might be charged duty and allowed through, or you might have the item confiscated, and then allowed through. You won't be fined. If you don't declare the liquor you might get away with it, but if it's found and it's against regulations then you risk a fine and/or confiscation. – user90371 Jul 4 at 11:44
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    The second wikipedia page you linked says "some natural additives containing coumarin, such as the flavorant sweet woodruff are allowed "in alcoholic beverages only" under 21 CFR 172.510.[47] In Europe, popular examples of such beverages are Maiwein, white wine with woodruff, and Żubrówka, vodka flavoured with bison grass." – Blorgbeard Jul 4 at 20:25
  • I accepted jpatokal's answer, but given @Blorgbeard's comment I'd still be interested in knowing whether the stuff is actually illegal for import. – Michael Seifert Jul 9 at 11:21
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Declare it, but don't volunteer more information than you need to. The most likely consequence:

  • "What are you declaring?"
  • "This bottle of Polish vodka."
  • "That's fine, have a nice day. Next!"

Worse case, some eagle-eyed officer knows Zubrowka is not allowed and confiscates it, but it's highly unlikely there would be any penalties beyond that. In either case you will not be charged duty for a single bottle, since it's within duty free limits (1L).

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