How To Bring Champagne Back From France

how to bring champagne back from france featured photo

France is the home of champagne and a perfect destination for wine lovers, perhaps most of all for lovers of champagne.

However, bringing champagne and other French wine back home can seem daunting, especially if you have never done it before. I’ve been to France many times and almost always bring back some bottles, so in this article, I will give you some tips on how to bring champagne back from France safely and while adhering to customs rules (last updated in 2023).

France is Great for Wine Shopping

France is home to some of the finest wineries in the world. From the world-famous Champagne region to the vineyards of Burgundy and Alsace, France has something for everyone. While you are in France, take the opportunity to explore the different wine regions. Visit the local wineries and sample different wines. This will give you an idea of what you like and what you want to bring back home.

A bonus is that you can often find a better deal on purchasing wine in France compared to what you would pay at a store in the US (the same almost always applies for other countries as well).

How To Bring Champagne Back From France

To bring champagne back from France, you have three main options: carrying champagne in your checked luggage, buying duty free at the airport, or shipping it back directly to your home.

Option 1: Put the champagne in your checked luggages for the flight back.

You need to make sure it’s packed carefully, more tips on this below.

Option 2: Buy champagne duty free at the airport.

With this option, you’ll avoid paying tax and you can carry it with you when you walk off your flight.

Option 3: Shipping champagne direct to your home

The better wine shops in France will usually be willing to ship your champagne directly to your home country, or connect you with a third party shipper who can facilitate this.

Options On How To Bring Champagne Back From France

Can I Carry On Bottles of Champagne For My Flight?

Unfortunately you can not carry on bottles of wine or champagne for your flight back from France. This is due to current security restrictions that limit the amount of liquids you can have in your carry on luggage. The only exception where you can carry on instead of checking wine or champagne is if you shop in the duty free shops at the airport. In this case you’ll give the duty free shop your flight and passport information, the wine will be delivered to your airplane, and you’ll be able to pick it up when you step off your flight.

How Many Bottles of Champagne Can You Bring From France to the US?

The short answer: In practice, you can bring up to one case (12 bottles) of champagne back from France as long as you declare it. You might have to pay duty (a small tax of less than a few dollars per bottle), but in my experience I’ve never been asked to pay this even though I always declare how many bottles I’m bringing in.

Note: This explanation is not legal advice, just my personal experience and what the US embassy says on their website. If you’re planning to bring in more than a case of wine, do your own research or check with a lawyer that specializes in wine imports.

The longer and more technical answer: The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) allows you to bring one liter of alcohol per person into the country duty-free. Since a bottle of wine is 750ml, this translates to roughly one bottle of wine with no tax owed.

That said, the law clearly allows you to bring in more than the duty free limit as long as you are willing to pay a small duty and excise tax of less than a few dollars per bottle of champagne.

Exactly how much champagne or how much wine you can bring for personal use isn’t actually written down in the law. Basically, customs officers have some discretion here to decide if you’re bringing in an amount of bottles large enough that they suspect it is for commercial use instead of personal use. You can always make your case with the officer for how many bottles you’re bringing, and I’ve definitely heard of some people bringing in two cases without an issue.

In practice, based on everyone I’ve spoken to and all the wine travel reports I’ve read online, customs almost never have concerns if you are bringing up a case of wine (12 bottles). That said, as mentioned above 12 bottles is not listed anywhere as an official limit but more of an unofficial guideline used by many travelers.

When I go to France I usually bring back a case of wine (12 bottles). I always make sure to declare it when I arrive at immigration, and although I’m willing to pay any tax owed I’ve never actually been asked to pay by the immigration or customs officers when bringing in this amount (nor has anyone else I’ve talked to). Bringing in one bottle or a few bottles definitely won’t raise any concerns.

Here is the exact US Government wording for reference:

Source: this US Embassy website

“Generally, one liter per person may be entered into the U.S. duty-free by travelers who are 21 or older. Additional quantities may be entered, although they will be subject to duty and IRS taxes.

Duty is generally 3% of value and the IRS excise tax is generally between 21-31cents per 750ml bottle of wine, 67 cents/champagne, and $2.14/ hard liquor.

It is illegal for travelers under the age of 21 to import alcohol – even as a gift.

There is no federal limit on the amount of alcohol a traveler may import into the U.S. for personal use, however, large quantities might raise the suspicion that the importation is for commercial purposes.

The total amount of alcohol you may enter the country with is primarily determined by the laws of the state where you will arrive back into the U.S. Each State sets the amount of alcohol a person may bring in without a license or permit from that state. Travelers must check with the individual States.”

The last part about the individual state rules is a little tricky. In practice, I’m not sure that individual states have a good way to enforce their own rules when you are flying into the country via an international airport. But if you want to be extra sure on any taxes owed for your state, you can check with your state’s Alcohol Beverage Control board. Again, this is not legal advice, just my experience.

Can I Carry On Bottles of Champagne For My Flight

How Many Bottles of Champagne Can You Bring From France to the UK?

The UK government is a bit more clear on their limits. You can bring in 9 litres of champagne or other sparkling wine (which is equivalent to one case or 12 standard bottles of champagne). For some reason, with still wine you’re allowed to bring in 18 litres (which is equivalent to two cases or 24 standard bottles of wine).

Assuming you’re at least 18 years old, you won’t pay tax or duty on wine up to these amounts, but you do need to declare them either online before you travel or at the border when you arrive.

If you go over these amounts (for example, you bring 13 bottles of champagne instead of 12, you’ll have to pay UK duty and tax on all the bottles. So it’s best to stick within your limits.

Checking Your Wine In Luggage vs. Shipping Wine Direct

Checking Your Wine In Luggage vs. Shipping Wine Direct

Assuming you are shopping during your trip and not at duty free shops in the airport, you have two options when it comes to bringing champagne back from France – flying with it in your checked luggage or shipping it before you head to the airport.

Checking your wine in means you pack it in your suitcase and check it in at the airport before your flight. Shipping it, on the other hand, means you use a wine shipping company before you leave the country. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages.

Before you make a final decision on packing vs. shipping, it’s a good idea to confirm any baggage weight limits enforced by your specific airline for your ticket type. You might need to split up bottles between you and your travel partner to manage the maximum weight per bag. Going over these limits can incur hefty fees, so I recommend weighing your bag and double checking any fees before you decide on checking vs. shipping.

Checking Your (Carefully Wrapped) Wine Bottles In Luggage

We all know that airport bag handlers are moving fast and don’t always take the greatest care with your luggage. This means that if you’re going to check your wine in, it is important to wrap each bottle carefully and pack them well

If you don’t have a wine suitcase, it’s a good idea to wrap each wine bottle individually in bubble wrap or protective wine sleeves, and then put them in a hard-sided bag before checking them in at the airport.

In addition to individually wrapping the champagne bottles with protective sleeves (such as these wine skins), I like to ensure there is a good buffer layer between the individually wrapped wine bottles and the outside of the suitcase. Sweatshirts, multiple t-shirts, jeans, towels, or even a blanket can work well for this.

Lastly, mark your suitcase as fragile to (hopefully) help ensure it is handled with care during transit. It may not make a difference, but it can’t hurt to try.

Shipping Champagne to Your Home

Another approach that can reduce stress on the day of your flight is to ship your champagne directly to your home before you leave France. Most of the best wine shops in France will usually be willing to ship your champagne directly to your home country, or help you connect you with a third party shipper who can facilitate this.

You’ll need to allocate an hour or two of your trip to drop off your wine, pay for the shipping, and fill out any required paperwork. However, your wine will be professionally packed and handled by people that ship wine every day and know how to keep it safe.

If you’re bringing back a significant number of bottles, and if you already have a lot of other luggage to carry, this approach can really reduce the stress when heading to the airport because you won’t have to lug around an extra suitcase full of wine in addition to your other bags. Depending on how your flight was ticketed, you may also save some money vs. having to pay for an additional checked bag holding your wine.

Shipping Champagne to Your Home

Taking a Wine Suitcase for Your Wine Bottles

If you are a wine lover and plan on doing some serious wine shopping while in France, investing in a wine suitcase that can adjust to fit champagne is well worth it. A wine suitcase is a travel case designed specifically for wine bottles. I love my wine suitcase and I can’t believe I ever tried bringing wine in my luggage without it. Wine luggage usually has foam inserts that protect the bottles and ensure they do not break during transit. 

Speaking of those inserts – if you’re planning to load up on champagne bottles specifically, keep in mind that champagne bottles are shaped differently and are a bit larger than standard wine bottles. You’ll likely need to remove some foam inserts in order to actually fit a case’s worth of champagne bottles into your suitcase, so make sure to leave some inserts at home or keep some space in your other luggage to bring them back for future use.

Taking a Wine Suitcase for Your Wine Bottles

Declaring Wine on Your Customs Form

On your way back home to the US, you’ll usually be handed a customs form to declare any merchandise that you acquired on your trip.  Alcoholic beverages, including wine, are considered merchandise and must be declared. Be sure to declare the exact amount of bottles you acquired on your trip and their approximate value even if it’s over the allowed duty free limit of 1L per person in the US.

As mentioned above, if you declare you’re bringing up to 12 bottles there’s even a good chance that you won’t even be asked to pay tax on it. But, I don’t recommend messing around with customs regulations and trying to sneak it through.  if you don’t declare it and the customs officer catches it, you could run into delays leaving the airport, potentially have to pay a hefty fine or worse yet, lose your wine altogether. It’s best to just be honest and let the immigration and customers know how many bottles you’re bringing back and that they are for personal use.

Declaring Wine on Your Customs Form

What about the $800 duty-free exemption

When it comes to your duty free allowance, residents from the US are entitled to a duty-free exemption of newly purchased goods up to a value of $800. However, this doesn’t mean you don’t have to declare wine as long as the total value is less than $800, as a customs officer sternly clarified for me on a past trip. You probably won’t have to pay, but if you’re bringing wine or another alcoholic beverage go ahead and list it on your customs form even if the value is below $800.


Bringing champagne back from France might seem daunting, but with the right preparation, it can be easy and stress-free. Take advantage of being in France to try as much wine as you can and explore the different wine regions.

Remember that you can bring wine back from France up to 1 liter of wine duty-free, but anything over that might incur a small duty/excise fee. Weigh the pros and cons of checking your wine versus shipping it, and invest in a wine suitcase if needed.

Lastly, pack your wine correctly, and mark your suitcase as fragile to help ensure your champagne arrives home intact. With these tips, you can enjoy a glass of French champagne in the comfort of your home.