Eliot Knows Archives

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Prohibition Agent Eliot Ness knows all there is to know about TTB and the regulated industries. Take a look below to see his answers to popular questions.


“How much alcohol can I bring into the U.S. for commercial reasons or for personal use?”

So you’re thinking about importing beverage alcohol products such as wine, beer, and liquor into the United States and you ask yourself, “Hmmm… Do I need a permit to do this?”

The short answer? Yes. But only if you wish to import beverage alcohol products into the United States for resale.

The Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA) requires that anyone wishing to import beverage alcohol products into the United States for resale must apply for an Importer's Basic Permit from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).

Fortunately, this form, along with instructions on completion of the form, is conveniently available on TTB’s Importer Packet page.

For further information about all requirements that must be met to import alcohol beverages into the United States, visit TTB’s Importing Bottled Alcohol Beverages Into the United States page.

“What if I only want to import beverage alcohol products for my own use? Do I need a permit?”

No.  TTB only regulates importation for commercial use. If you wish to import for your personal use on an infrequent basis, you must contact U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) (former U.S. Customs Service) for information on taxes and duties. CBP determines if you are importing for commercial or personal use.

You must also contact the State where you plan to ship the products to determine if any State laws on direct shipping apply.

For further information about importing beverage alcohol for personal use, please visit TTB.Gov’s Personal Importation of Beverage Alcohol Products page.


Visit the Eliot Knows Archives to see other popular questions and answers.

Page last reviewed: November 19, 2015
Page last updated: November 20, 2015
Maintained by: International Affairs Division