Alcohol shipping regs change for Marines
Stars and Stripes June 16, 2007
Italy and wine often go hand-in-hand.
So when servicemembers leave the Mediterranean peninsula for other duty stations, they often take advantage of a perk to pack up some bottles for shipment on the government’s dime.
And while the government is still paying, the Marines have a little extra legwork to do before shipping off their reds, whites and rosés.
As of June 1, Corps policy requires Marines to arrange transportation of wine and alcohol on their own, instead of letting the government arrange the shipments, said Richard Rado, the European Personal Property director. And the shipment still counts toward the servicemember’s authorized weight allowance.
The policy change sounds “a bit ridiculous if you ask me,” said Naples, Italy-based Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Flores. “If they are still going to pay for it, and it’s going to count toward your overall household goods shipment, why don’t they just continue like they’ve being doing in the past?”
Flores said he’s one of the lucky ones: He made travel and shipping arrangements from Italy to his next duty station move to Japan just days before the change went into effect.
“We shipped about 200 bottles. … Whenever we go anywhere, we pick up bottles. We recently went to Florence and Tuscany and Calabria and Sicily, and you can easily pick up five, even 10 bottles,” said the 15-year veteran, now with the Allied Forces Band Naples. “Next thing you know, you have all these bottles of good wine.”
Making your own shipping arrangements could present a problem if you have to pay out of pocket, Flores said.
“Yeah, you might be reimbursed,” but it could be expensive to come up with the cash in advance.
The new policy might not be as good as the Navy and Air Force policies, but it’s better than the Army’s.
Active-duty Navy and Air Force personnel and civilians still can have their booze shipped through government-arranged transportation, Rado said. Defense Transportation Regulations mandate alcohol and wine be shipped separately from household goods, but the shipment still counts toward the total authorized weight allowance.
Active-duty Army, civilians working for the Army, and Department of Defense Education Activity employees have to arrange their own alcohol shipments, Rado said. Those members too are reimbursed, but at the government rate. If a shipper pays $900 for a shipment, but the government rate for that transportation would run $200, the shipper only receives the $200 reimbursement, Rado warned.
Regardless of branch of service, there’s no limit in the number of bottles one can ship, Rado said.
“You could ship 20,000 bottles if you wanted. Just keep in mind that it goes against the weight entitlement,” Rado said.
Regulations are convoluted, and people should talk details with their respective personal property offices.
Shipments through the government now are done “via surface cargo container” and not air mail, Rado said. From Europe, shipments can take 60 days to 75 days to the East Coast, and 75 days to 90 days to the West Coast.
The government doesn’t reimburse if the shipment is ruined.
“We’ll reimburse for broken or lost shipments, but not if it’s spoiled,” Rado said. Shipments aren’t always climate-controlled.