When you travel to the UK from outside the European Union (EU), you can bring in a certain amount of duty/tax free goods for your own use - known as an 'allowance'. If you go over this allowance you may have to pay duty and/or tax. Some goods are banned completely, or restricted, such as certain foods.
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The allowances below cover the most common items that you can bring into the UK duty and/or tax-free from outside the EU.
You must also meet certain conditions listed in the section 'Additional conditions when bringing goods into the UK'. If you don't meet these conditions or you go over your allowance you'll have to pay any Customs Duty, Excise Duty and/or Import VAT due (VAT will also be due on any duties that may be charged).
For passengers who are in transit and changing flights in an EU airport there are set conditions that apply regarding liquids, including any duty-free purchases you've made.
You can bring in either, but not both, of the following:
Or you can combine these allowances. For example, if you bring in one litre of fortified wine (half your full allowance) you can also bring in half a litre of spirits (half your full allowance). This would make up your full allowance. You can't go over your total alcohol allowance.
In addition you may also bring back both of the following:
You can bring in one from the following list:
Or you can combine these allowances. For example, if you bring in 100 cigarettes (half your full allowance) you can also bring in 25 cigars (half your full allowance). This would make up your full tobacco allowance. You can't go over your total tobacco allowance.
You cannot combine alcohol and tobacco allowances.
You can bring in other goods worth up to £390 without having to pay tax and/or duty.
If you arrive by private plane or private boat for pleasure purposes, you can only bring in other goods worth up to £270 tax and duty free.
If you bring in any single item worth more than your allowance, you must pay duty and/or tax on the full item value, not just the value above the allowance. You also cannot group individual allowances together to bring in an item worth more than the limit.
To qualify for the tax/duty free allowances you also need to meet the following conditions:
You must make a declaration to customs when entering the UK from non-EU countries if:
To do this you should use the red channel or the red-point phone. The customs official from the UK Border Agency (UKBA) will tell you if any tax or duty is owed and how to pay.
If you exceed the allowances and/or don't meet the additional conditions set out above you will have to pay the appropriate charges which may include:
In all instances Customs Duty is waived if the amount of the duty payable is less than £9.
For other goods brought into the UK by travellers, duty only applies on goods above £270 or £390 (whichever is appropriate) in value. Over this allowance and up to £630 there is a duty flat rate of 2.5 per cent.
For goods over £630, the duty/duties rate charged depends on the type of goods.
Excise Duty is payable on all alcohol or tobacco products that go over the duty free allowances or do not meet the additional conditions. You can check alcohol and tobacco Excise Duty rates on the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) website.
Import VAT is charged as a percentage of the total value of the goods plus any other duties payable. The rate is the same VAT rate that applies to similar goods that are sold in the UK.
There are some goods that you're never allowed to bring into the UK including illegal drugs and all offensive weapons. There are also some goods that are restricted and need a licence or permit to be imported.
Some foods are also restricted - for example you're not allowed to bring in meat or dairy products from most countries outside the EU.
If you need more information about bringing in goods to the UK from outside the EU, you can contact the Excise and Customs Helpline by following the link below.