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How to Smuggle Wine into British Columbia

smuggler with wine barrel
Smuggler with wine barrels

Smugglers hold an imagery of dark times past when prohibition imprisoned people for making, buying and selling wine. They are pictured as dirty, grisly fellows walking through dark and damp underground tunnels. Yet, they are also often considered ‘the good guys’ in fables bringing necessary goods to the overworked commoner. If you remember Han Solo from Star Wars, he was also a good-guy smuggler who only refused to pay the proper taxes to the corrupt Imperial Senate. I guess you could consider the British Columbia Liquor Board as the Imperial Senate. You too, can be a Han Solo.

Han Solo - a good-guy smuggler
Han Solo – a good-guy smuggler

Prices for premium wine has just gone up even more in British Columbia, Canada. If you leave the province, odds are, you will pay a lot less for wine wherever you are visiting. Here’s how to get your wine back into BC on a flight without paying all the legal customs for them.

1 Before leaving the province, bring bubble wrap and large Ziploc bags.

You will need some cushion to pack your wine safely in your suitcase. Bubble wrap is the best. Buy the super large Ziploc bags as an insurance policy if one of the breaks (it’s NEVER happened to me). After wrapping the bottle(s) with the bubble wrap, seal them in Ziploc bags. (I’ve never had a wine bottle break as they are pretty sturdy.)

2 When you are purchasing wine directly from a producer, ask for a secondary receipt.

One that lists the prices of the wine lower than what they are. This way, if you do have to pay through customs, the price will be vastly lower than what you should have paid. Really, the producer doesn’t care how much you pay in taxes, just that they make the sale.

3 Lie. Or just stretch the truth a little…

When you fill out the Customs Form on the plane; there is a question about what you have to claim. Do not fill out the number of bottles! Just write, “wine”; don’t write the quantity.

4 Tell the truth!

After entering the airport, the customs officer will ask if you brought back anything to declare, say, “Yes!” When they ask what it is, just say, “A little wine”. 19 out of 20 times, they will let you pass. If they do not, pull out your fake receipt and pay the tax. This works!

Happy Smuggling!


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