Trans-Atlantic Wine Journey
October 28, 2007 1:49 PM   Subscribe

Moving to London from Northern California in early January. I have a fairly substantial (100+ bottles) wine collection that I'd really like to take with me. Is there any way to do this without getting screwed on customs duty?
posted by cubedweller to Travel & Transportation around London, England (10 answers total)
via Google:

I imagine they might have an idea.
posted by rhizome at 2:20 PM on October 28, 2007

Ok, a good buddy of mine went through this maybe seven years ago, moving from LA to London.

There are companies that will store the wine at Heathrow in zones that effectively are outside the UK. You only pay duty on wine if and when it's brought into the UK, and otherwise pay a monthly storage charge.

So on the surface everything looks good but I urge caution. He had problems after taking possession of several cases of his wine, and suspected temperature swings in the facility to blame. After all, what really messes up good wine are wild swings in temperature. Several cases early on were good but a few years into his experience things got consistently bad. I'd suggest you look about and if at all possible consult online reviews.
posted by Mutant at 2:25 PM on October 28, 2007

This may be very naive, but would it not be easier to sell any half cases or full cases in California, and then buy the same bottles from a specialist dealer in London on arrival? Even if your collection is principally of Californian wines, that may be cheaper than bothering with shipping and tax yourself, particularly since you are presumably soon going to be earning £s not $s.
posted by roofus at 3:28 PM on October 28, 2007

What temperature does cargo usually travel at? I thought it was quite low, and so there may be a deterioration just from shipping it.
posted by dash_slot- at 3:36 PM on October 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

No. You're going to either pay duty or you're going to pay Mutant's "offshore" storage charges.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 3:37 PM on October 28, 2007

Buy some extra luggage and wheel it through "nothing to declare"? That lane isn't even staffed half the time in my experience.
posted by trevyn at 4:53 PM on October 28, 2007

Paste Two Buck Chuck labels on your bottles and pay the duty on $1.99 retail
posted by hortense at 5:15 PM on October 28, 2007

I'm going to go out on a limb and say the last two suggestions ("nothing to declare" or "100 bottles of Two Buck Chuck") aren't that wise. 100 bottles is a *lot* and you're not going to be able to fool customs in this fashion. I mean, why would anyone bother to bring over 100 bottles of shit wine?

Rhizome has the best answer; contact a real expert.
posted by Deathalicious at 5:30 PM on October 28, 2007

I do not think it is necessarily true that you have to pay duty on personal / household goods.

Check out the Customs and Excise forms for obtaining a waiver of duty on personal belongings C3 and C33 on this page.

I do not fully understand these forms, but have had cause to look at them before, and the important factors are whether you are relocating your primary or secondary residence, and whether you have had the goods for a prescribed period of time.

You may also not be permitted to sell the goods without first paying the duty you were exempted from.

I note that you still need to list alcohol explicity on the forms, so there may be some special rules or pro-rating that happens.

But take a look and take your own counsel. I am not a lawyer.
posted by blue_wardrobe at 6:30 PM on October 28, 2007

Oh, and when our household goods were shipped from UK to US (in Winter), there were one or two bottles of household cleaning fluids with alcohol in that had inadvertently been shipped, and these were frozen on arrival.
posted by blue_wardrobe at 6:32 PM on October 28, 2007

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