The FAQ of the US Embassy in Germany states

Adults at least 21 years of age who are not residents of the United States may bring in, free of duty and internal revenue tax, not more than one liter of alcoholic beverages beer, wine, liquor for personal use. [...]

In addition to U.S. Federal laws, the traveler must also meet state alcoholic beverage laws which may be more restrictive if the state in which you arrive permits less liquor than you have legally brought into the United States, that State's laws apply to your importation of alcoholic beverages.

The first part is fine, I take 2x0.5l and am fine. But the second paragraph makes it complicated: How can I find the appropriate rules?

Is there any other paper work I have to mind or can I simply pass border and customs control?

I fly via Philadelphia, PA to San Francisco, CA.

  • 2
    Make sure that the alcohol is in your checked luggage. Cabin luggage will most likely go through an additional security checkpoint, so bottles you bought in the duty-free shop in Europe may get confiscated.
    – Jonas
    Sep 17, 2012 at 22:20
  • This one is a bit iffy to me. In the US and Israel for example you receive your duty free purchases at the gate. If that's the case you in Philly should have time to repack into your checked in baggage since you will have to go through customs with it rather then sending it straight through to the destination. But the domestic leg will definitely have to be checked in
    – Karlson
    Sep 17, 2012 at 22:32
  • yeah, checking it in is the only option, liquids are banned in EU and US, as are glass bottles (duty free is an exception)
    – johannes
    Sep 17, 2012 at 22:33
  • How did this turn out? Did you have any problems? Where did you come from? I plan to bring some Weißbier from Germany to San Francisco.
    – simbabque
    May 18, 2013 at 11:49

1 Answer 1


You should not have any problems passing through Philadelphia Airport with 2 bottles of beer in you luggage. You can fill out your paperwork and unless you have something else to declare use the Green exit doors.

Pennsylvania while having some stranger liquor laws doesn't have any issues with importing federally allowed amount of liquor for personal consumption. At some point there used to be restrictions on import of Absinthe but most of them have been lifted.

As far as PHL to SFO is concerned the check is not as "thorough" for the lack of the better term.

  • Thanks. Your link brought me to lcb.state.pa.us/cons/groups/system_internet/documents/webasset/… which states "However, if an individual is only passing through Pennsylvania to his/her final destination in another state, it would be permissible for an individual to bring his/her wine into Pennsylvania on his/her way to the other state." hopefully valid for beer, too. ;-)
    – johannes
    Sep 17, 2012 at 22:36
  • @johannes Beer shouldn't be a problem.
    – Karlson
    Sep 18, 2012 at 1:06

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