by Robert Szostek
U.S. European Command Public Affairs
Many Americans start a wine collection while in Europe and want to send it to the United States when their overseas tour ends. And, that can sometimes be a difficult task.
With a little advance planning and patience, wine connoisseurs can still enjoy their favorite European vintages at their new stateside homes.
“First contact your transportation office for shipping procedures and how, if possible, to get reimbursed for the transportation costs,” said Bill Greenwood, acting director of the U.S. European Command’s Customs and Border Clearance Agency. Any duty or tax paid is not reimbursable.
Military transportation officials usually will not pack the collection in personal property shipments for fear of damage from broken bottles, but they will have a list of wine merchants or moving companies that ship wine collections. “The company will tell you about state restrictions on alcohol and how to pay any tax that needs to be paid,” said Mr. Greenwood. The collection must be shipped to an airport with a U.S. Customs and Border Protection office.
The U.S. Postal Service will not allow mailing wine, Mr. Greenwood said, and express shipping companies are usually unwilling to ship wine. Some airlines, however, will allow small collections to be checked as excess baggage for a fee.
After the company packs the collection, they will provide a shipping document and a copy of the bill of sale for the tax and shipping costs. Find out the shipment’s airline, flight number, date of arrival and rits shipping document number before flying.