Editor’s note: See green highlight section below for those of us with non-California driver’s license. This make me very proud to be a Coloradan. And, I have become a very popular Vino Bandito in Baja due to this regulation.
Importing Alcoholic Beverages For Personal Or Household Use
This article summarizes the law on bringing alcoholic beverages into California.
Adults (persons age 21 or older) who bring alcoholic beverages into California for commercial or business purposes must be licensed by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC).
Adults who bring alcoholic beverages into California for personal or household use do not need an alcoholic beverage license; however, some restrictions do apply, as explained below (Section 23661 Business and Professions Code).
Returning from a Foreign Country
Alcoholic beverages must accompany the returning traveler and may not be shipped to California at a later date.
- Travel by Steamship or Airplane Adults traveling into California from a foreign country by steamship or airplane may bring with them a reasonable amount of alcoholic beverages for personal or household use. A reasonable amount is not more than 60 liters (approximately five cases). (ABC agreement with U.S. Customs)
- Returning from MexicoSection 23661 of the CA Business and Professions Code limits the quantity of alcohol brought into California from Mexico for personal or household use as follows:
- A pedestrian crossing the international border on foot may bring in only the amount of alcoholic beverages which are exempt from payment of duty in accordance with the existing provision of federal law (currently, this is one-liter every 31 days). Note: This limit applies to all persons regardless of state or country of residence. No waivers are available.
- A California resident crossing the international border in a vehicle that is not a common carrier may bring in only the amount of alcoholic beverages which are exempt from payment of duty in accordance with the existing provisions of federal law (currently, this is one-liter every 31 days).
- Non-California residents crossing the international border in a vehicle that is not a common carrier can bring with them a reasonable quantity of alcoholic beverages (up to five cases or 60 liters) provided the beverages are for personal or household use. 8)
- A California resident or any other person crossing the international border via common carrier may bring in a reasonable quantity of alcoholic beverages (up to five cases or 60 liters) provided the beverages are for personal or household use.
- No person under 21 years of age may bring in any quantity of alcoholic beverages.
For the purpose of Section 23661 “common carriers” are steamship companies and railroads, or any persons who hold themselves out to the general public to transport in interstate or foreign commerce any class or classes of passengers or property, or both, for compensation by air or highway, who actually engage in such transportation, and who hold an interstate alcoholic beverage transporter’s permit as required by Section 32109 of the Revenue and Taxation Code.
Persons who transport only property owned or consigned to themselves shall not be deemed to be common carriers within the meaning of this section.It should be noted that “common carriers” do not include taxicabs or sightseeing buses crossing the international border.