How much duty-free can I buy? Make sure you’re not breaking the law by bringing in more than your duty-free allowance

Although you can bring some goods from abroad without having to pay UK tax or duty, there are limits to just how much you can import and rules you’ll have to follow. Get the essential info here.

UK border Heathrow

Arrivals from EU countries

If you’re bringing goods from the European Union (EU), you won’t pay duty or tax, but you’ll need to abide by these rules:

  • Transport the goods yourself
  • Will use the goods yourself or give them away as gifts
  • Have paid tax and duty in the country where you bought them

Custom checks

You could be stopped by a customs officer if they have reason to believe you may be bringing in goods to sell – they will make checks and ask you:

  • The type and quantity of goods you’ve purchased
  • What’s the reason for buying them
  • How did you pay for them
  • How often do you travel
  • How much you normally drink or smoke

Although there are no limits to the amount of alcohol and tobacco you can bring to the UK from EU countries, you could be questioned if you exceed the amounts below.

Type of goods Amount
Cigarettes 800
Cigars 200
Cigarillos 400
Tobacco 1kg
Beer 110 litres
Wine 90 litres
Spirits 10 litres
Fortified wine (eg sherry, port) 20 litres

Arrivals from outside the EU

If you’re bringing goods to the UK from countries outside the European Union, then you’ll need to abide by duty-free allowances to avoid paying duty or tax, you also must:

  • Transport the goods yourself
  • Use the goods yourself or give them away as a gift

You cannot combine allowances with other people to bring in more than your individual allowance.

Alcohol allowance

Alcohol limits depend on the type of drink you want to bring in to the UK:

Type of alcohol Amount
Beer 16 litres
Wine (not sparkling) 4 litres

You can also bring in either:

Type of alcohol Amount
Spirits/other liquors over 22% alcohol 1 litre
Fortified wine/sparkling wine/alcoholic drinks up to 22% alcohol 2 litres

You’re allowed to split this allowance, for example: 1 litre of fortified wine and half a litre of spirits.

Tobacco allowance:

For your tobacco allowance, you can bring in one of the following:

Type of tobacco Amount
Cigarettes 200
Cigarillos 100
Cigars 50
Tobacco 250g

This allowance can be split, for example: 100 cigarettes and 25 cigars.

Allowance for other goods

If you’re bringing in any other goods, they can be worth up to £390, or up to £270 if you arrive by private plane or boat).

If a single item is worth more than your allowance, you will pay tax or duty on its full value.

What happens if you go over your allowance?

If you’re bringing anything over your allowance, you’ll have to pay Customs Duty. The rate:

Is 2.5% for goods worth up to £630

It depends on the type of goods if they are worth more than £630 – check by calling the VAT, Customs and Excise Helpline.

You don’t pay Customs Duty if you owe less than £9.

How to declare goods to customs?

Known as ‘declaring’, you must tell customs on arrival to the UK if you have goods:

  • Over your duty-free allowance
  • Are restricted or banned
  • That you plan to sell

If you have goods to declare, use the red channel at customs or the red-point phone.

You may have to:

  • Pay duty or tax
  • Hand over any banned goods
  • Produce documents for restricted goods
  • Have your baggage checked

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1 comment for “How much duty-free can I buy? Make sure you’re not breaking the law by bringing in more than your duty-free allowance

  1. Briony carr
    30/01/2018 at 6:40 pm

    we went to Gibraltar and bought 1,600 cigarettes, 6litres vodka, 1litre rum, 2 litres brandy all for our
    Personnel use only. We ended up paying the duty on these! Have we been blacklisted and is this been noted on our passports . Will this affect future travel?

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