duty-free-goods

Declaring goods to customs

1:Overview 2:Arrivals from EU countries
3:Arrivals from outside the EU 4:Banned and restricted goods
5:Declaring goods to customs

You must tell customs (known as ‘declaring’) on arrival in the UK if you have goods:

  • over your duty-free allowance
  • that are banned or restricted
  • that you plan to sell

Use the red channel at customs if you have something to declare.

If there’s no red channel, use the red-point phone to declare goods to customs.

You and your baggage can be checked for anything that must be declared.

You may be asked to:

  • pay tax or duty
  • give up banned goods
  • produce documents for restricted goods, eg licences and permits

If you don’t do what you’re asked, your goods and any vehicle you use to transport them may be seized.

Banned and restricted goods

1:Overview 2:Arrivals from EU countries
3:Arrivals from outside the EU 4:Banned and restricted goods
5:Declaring goods to customs

There are some goods that you can’t bring into the UK – they’ll be seized by customs.

These include:

  • illegal drugs
  • offensive weapons, eg flick knives
  • self-defence sprays, eg pepper spray and CS gas
  • endangered animal and plant species
  • rough diamonds
  • indecent and obscene materials
  • personal imports of meat and dairy products from most non-EU countries

Some goods are restricted – like firearms, explosives and ammunition. You need a special licence to bring them in to the UK.

Some food and plant products are also restricted if they:

  • aren’t free from pests and diseases
  • aren’t for your own use
  • weren’t grown in the EU

If you bring goods suspected of infringing intellectual property rights (eg ‘pirate’ copies of movies or music) they may be seized and you could be prosecuted.

Arrivals from outside the EU

1:Overview 2:Arrivals from EU countries
3:Arrivals from outside the EU 4:Banned and restricted goods
5:Declaring goods to customs

Your duty-free allowance means you can bring in a certain amount of goods for your own use from outside the European Union (EU) without paying duty or tax.

When you’re bringing in goods you must:

  • transport them yourself
  • use them yourself or give them away as a gift

You can’t combine allowances with other people to bring in more than your individual allowance.

Declare any goods over your allowance. Your goods could be seized if you don’t declare them.

Alcohol allowance

How much you can bring depends on the type of drink. You can bring in:

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

You can also bring in either:

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

You can split this last allowance, eg you could bring 1 litre of fortified wine and half a litre of spirits (both half of your allowance).

You may have to pay Excise Duty on alcohol you declare.

Tobacco allowance

You can bring in one from the following:

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

You can split this allowance – so you could bring in 100 cigarettes and 25 cigars (both half of your allowance).

You may have to pay Excise Duty on tobacco you declare.

Alcohol and tobacco allowances if you’re under 17

There are no duty-free allowances for tobacco or alcohol if you’re under 17. You can bring alcohol and tobacco to the UK for your own use but you’ll have to pay duty or tax on them when you get to customs.

Allowance for other goods

You can bring in other goods worth up to £390 (or up to £270 if you arrive by private plane or boat).

If a single item’s worth more than your allowance you pay any duty or tax on its full value, not just the value above the allowance.

If you go over your allowance

You pay Customs Duty on anything you bring in above your allowance. The rate:

  • is 2.5% for goods worth up to £630
  • depends on the type of goods if they’re 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.

You may also have to pay import VAT.

Import VAT

You may have to pay import VAT on the total value of the goods plus duty. The VAT rates are the standard UK rates.

Arrivals from EU countries

1:Overview 2:Arrivals from EU countries
3:Arrivals from outside the EU 4:Banned and restricted goods
5:Declaring goods to customs

You don’t pay duty or tax on goods you bring in from the European Union (EU) as long as you:

  • transport them yourself
  • will use them yourself or give them away as a gift
  • have paid duty and tax in the country where you bought them

The Canary Islands, the north of Cyprus, Gibraltar and the Channel Islands are not part of the EU for customs purposes – follow the rules for countries outside the EU instead.

Customs checks

If a customs officer thinks you may be bringing in goods to sell, they may stop you to make checks and ask:

  • 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 to the alcohol and tobacco you can bring in from EU countries, you’re more likely to be asked questions if you have more than 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

Overview

1:Overview 2:Arrivals from EU countries
3:Arrivals from outside the EU 4:Banned and restricted goods
5:Declaring goods to customs

You can bring some goods from abroad without having to pay UK tax or ‘duty’ (customs charges), as long as they’re for your own use.

If you’re coming:

  • from a European Union (EU) country you can bring in an unlimited amount of most goods
  • from outside the EU you can only bring in a certain amount without paying duty or tax – up to your duty-free allowance

There has been no change to the rights and status of EU nationals in the UK, and UK nationals in the EU, as a result of the referendum.

You must tell customs about (‘declare’) any other goods when you arrive at the UK border, as well as anything that’s banned or restricted in the UK. If you owe any duty or tax, you’ll usually have to pay it immediately.

Your goods and any vehicle you use to transport them may be seized if you break the rules. You may also be fined or prosecuted.

You can report someone for breaking the rules to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).