Travelling Abroad And Duty Free Limits

| 22nd August 2019

If you are travelling abroad this summer, it’s good to bear in mind the amount of goods that you can bring back to the UK without having to pay UK tax.

When travelling to EU Countries:

If you are coming back from an EU country, you can bring back an unlimited amount of most goods as long as they are for your own use, you transport them yourself and you have paid duty and tax in the country you bought them.

However, when tobacco and alcohol is brought back, HMRC has provided the following guidance as to the amounts that are considered to be for personal use:

Beer110 litres
Wine90 litres
Spirits10 litres
Fortified wine (for example sherry, port)20 litres

I.e. if you are bringing back more than these guideline amounts, expect to pay Customs Duty!

When travelling to non-EU Countries:

Similar to the rules above, when you are coming back from a non-EU country, the maximum amounts of tobacco and drinks that you can bring back without having to pay duty or UK tax are as follows:

  • beer – 16 litres and
  • wine (not sparkling) – 4 litres

You can also bring either:

  • spirits and other liquors over 22% alcohol – 1 litre or
  • fortified wine (for example port, sherry), sparkling wine and alcoholic drinks up to 22% alcohol – 2 litres

You can split this last allowance, for example you could bring 1 litre of fortified wine and half a litre of spirits (i.e. halving both allowances).

  • 200 cigarettes or
  • 100 cigarillos or
  • 50 cigars or
  • 250g tobacco

You can also split this allowance – so you could bring in 100 cigarettes and 25 cigars (both half of your allowance) but you cannot combine allowances with other people.

Allowances for Other Goods:

You are entitled to bring in other goods worth up to £390 (such as perfumes). However, if you buy a single item worth more than £390, then you will pay duty on its full value.

When do you need to declare your goods?

You will need to make a declaration when you:

  • Have gone over your allowance
  • Intend to sell any of the goods
  • Have restricted or banned items

For anything you bring in above your allowance, you will need to pay Customs Duty:

  • At 2.5% for goods worth up to £630
  • For goods worth more than £630, the rate will depend on the type of good


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