Tax and duty on goods brought to the UK from the European Union

If you are travelling to the UK from the European Union (EU), you can bring in an unlimited amount of most goods for your own use without paying tax or duty, but certain rules apply.

On this page:

Arrivals from EU countries

When arriving into the UK from an EU country you can bring in an unlimited amount of most goods.

For excise goods such as alcohol and tobacco, there are no restrictions. However you must meet the conditions below:

  • You transport the goods yourself.
  • The goods are for your own use or as a gift. If the person you give the goods to pays you in any way - including reimbursing you for any expenses or payment in kind - then it's not a gift and the goods may be seized.
  • The goods are duty and tax paid in the EU country where they were acquired.

If you don't meet these conditions, the goods and any vehicle that transported them, may be seized.

You can read more about Excise Duty in the guide 'Customs Duty, Excise Duty and Import VAT: introduction'. You'll find a link to this in the ‘More useful links’ section below.

Motor fuel

As well as the fuel in your vehicle's standard tank, you can bring in reserve fuel for that vehicle without paying any Excise Duty on it. The fuel must be in an appropriate container.

Read about which countries are in the EU in Travelling to the UK (Opens new window)

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Customs checks when coming from the EU

If a customs official from the UK Border Agency (UKBA) thinks you may be bringing in excise goods such as alcohol and tobacco from the EU for commercial use - perhaps to sell to other people or simply for reimbursement - they may ask you questions and make checks. You may be asked about:

  • the type and quantity of goods you've bought
  • why you bought them
  • how you paid for them
  • how often you travel
  • how much you normally smoke or drink

Although there are no limits on the amount of alcohol and tobacco you can bring in from EU countries, customs officials are more likely to ask you questions if you have more than the following:

Goods brought to the UK from the European Union

Until 30 September 2011

From 1 October 2011

Cigarettes

3,200

800

Cigars

200

200

Cigarillos

400

400

Tobacco

3 kilograms

1 kilogram

Beer

110 litres

110 litres

Wine

90 litres

90 litres

Spirits

10 litres

10 litres

Fortified wine (for example port or sherry)

20 litres

20 litres

If the UKBA is satisfied that the goods are for a commercial purpose it may seize them and any vehicle used to transport them, and may not return them to you. You can find out more in the guide 'What to do if your goods are seized by customs' under 'More useful links'.

Find out about tax and duty on commercial imports (Opens new window)

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Declaring goods to customs

You must declare to customs any goods from EU countries if you think they may be banned or restricted goods.

To do this you should use the red channel or the red-point phone.

Note that if you are bringing back goods for commercial purposes, the rules are different.

Going through customs

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Banned and restricted goods

There are some goods, such as offensive weapons and illegal drugs that you can't bring into the UK no matter where you're travelling from. Other goods, like firearms, are restricted.

Some food and plant products may be restricted if they:

  • are not free from pests and diseases
  • are not for your own use
  • were not grown in the EU

Read more about banned or restricted goods

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Getting more help and advice

If you need more information about bringing in goods to the UK from the EU, you can contact the VAT, Customs and Excise Helpline by following the link below.

Contact details for the VAT, Customs and Excise Helpline

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More useful links

Travelling to the UK (Opens new window)

Customs Duty, Excise Duty and Import VAT: introduction

Tax and duty on goods brought to the UK from outside the EU

What to do if you have something seized by Customs

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