Next month I am traveling from Japan to USA. One of my friends is asking me to bring habushu (snake wine) as a souvenir. Like this pic:

I want to ask a question here, is it OK to carry Habushu (snake wine) into USA?

enter image description here

  • 6
    My only question is: why? That looks... //shudder
    – Martha
    Feb 13, 2017 at 15:21
  • 3
    @Martha There are worse wines out there. And probably the same effect is expected from this one. Feb 13, 2017 at 16:19

2 Answers 2


Is it OK to carry Habushu into USA?

Answer is from US Customs And Border Protection. You may only be allowed to carry Habushu (snake wine) into USA if it is not listed as an endangered species.

Source:US Customs And Border Protection

Can I bring back snake wine or habu sake from Asia?

While all imports of alcoholic beverages are subject to certain restrictions, snake wine is also subject to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) regulations.

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. If a FWS inspector is not available, the wine would be detained until it can be inspected, and you would be responsible for making arrangements for its forward shipment if the snake were not an endangered species.

You are also supposed to declare in Custom Declaration From that you are bringing animal wildlife product into USA:

enter image description here

Further please confirm with the vendor in Japan that the snake in that bottle is not listed as an endangered species, otherwise it will be seized by US customs.

  • 10
    Or just avoid the hassle altogether and tell your friend you can't bring it. Seriously though, just checking "Yes" on the form above will generate unnecessary scrutiny and will consume a lot of time...
    – Idos
    Feb 13, 2017 at 7:34
  • 14
    @Idos Actually, my experience of ticking "yes" to the first two boxes has been that they ask what the items are and say "OK", with a total delay of maybe ten seconds. They once wanted to search my bag to make sure I really had what I said I had; that took less than five minutes. Having said that, this has always been for products such as jam that any westerner would find at all unusual. Feb 13, 2017 at 9:17
  • 6
    The issue would be whether there is a FWS officer on duty when/where you arrive. Not every CBP facility has USDA or FWS officers on duty. If there is no FWS official to accept the item for inspection, then CBP will give you the choice of voluntarily disposing of it or hiring a custom broker to handle processing and then ship it onward, cost of which far exceeds the value of the beverage.
    – user13044
    Feb 13, 2017 at 14:11
  • 1
    Also remember that if you have dirty shoes you will have to tick yes on (d).
    – gerrit
    Feb 13, 2017 at 20:17
  • 1
    The snake is Trimeresurus flavoviridis or Habu Viper, it is a poisonous snake. It is not on the CITES Red List, but not sure where it sits below that.
    – user13044
    Feb 14, 2017 at 2:16

I’ve been bringing back habushu (aka habu awamori) to the US for many years. The brand of habushu I bring back is the exact same one shown in the photo above. The trimeresurus flavoviridis is not listed as an endangered species, so you would be allowed to bring it into the US. It would be wise to keep the scientific name of the snake written down on a piece of paper or on your phone in case you are questioned about it.

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