The UK Rules
'Follow the Regulations'
Duty Free Goods

Bringing Goods into the United Kingdom

You can bring goods into the United Kingdom when the duty free allowance is not restricted. But, some items are subject to tax when you travel from overseas and enter the UK.

CUSTOM AND EXCISE DUTY FREE ALLOWANCE: There are rules for bringing goods into the United Kingdom.

Certain products are liable for tax and duty. It does not matter whether you are arriving from EU or non-EU country destinations.

Ignorance of the law is rarely a good enough defence. It is illegal to bring banned or restricted goods into the UK. Doing so can result in serious trouble with HM Revenue and Customs or the UK Border Force Agency.

There are some items that you can bring into Great Britain from abroad without having to pay any UK tax or 'duty'. The duty is often called customs charges. But, the 'duty free' goods must be for your own personal use or consumption.

When you are travelling into the United Kingdom from:

What happens when you arrive at the UK border or point of entry? You must inform the customs officers about the goods you are bringing in. This means any items besides those you are usually allowed without restrictive limits.

At this point you should also tell them (declare) if you have any UK banned or restricted items. As a rule, any tax or duty that's owed must get paid immediately at the Border Force department.

Important Information iconYour goods and any vehicle you use to transport them may get seized if you break the rules. Doing so may also result in a fine or prosecution.

UK Arrivals from EU Countries

If you are bringing goods into the United Kingdom from the European Union (EU) you do not pay duty or tax on them providing you:

Note: Follow the rules for countries outside the European Union for the Canary Islands, the north of Cyprus, Gibraltar and the Channel Islands. This rule applies because those countries are not part of the EU for customs purposes.

Customs Stop and Check

Customs officers might consider that you may be bringing in goods to the UK for selling them, or using them for a commercial purpose. In this case, customs staff may stop you and conduct some checks. They may also ask about:

Officially, there are no maximum limits to the amount of duty free tobacco and alcohol that you can bring into the United Kingdom from EU countries.

UK Border Customs Allowances for Duty Free GoodsBut, you will get more attention from customs if you have more than the amounts below.

Type of Goods (alcohol and tobacco) Suggested Maximum Amount
Cigarettes 800
Cigars 200
Cigarillos 400
Smoking Tobacco 1kg
Beer 110 litres
Wine 90 litres
Spirits 10 litres
Fortified Wine (e.g. port, sherry) 20 litres

UK Arrivals from Outside EU

You have a duty-free allowance any time you bring goods into the United Kingdom from outside the European Union. Your individual allowance means you can transport a specified amount of goods without paying duty or tax.

If you are bringing in goods to the United Kingdom, the items must be for your own use, consumption, or to give away as a gift.

You are not allowed to combine the allowances with other people to increase the amount that you bring in to the country.

Important Information iconYou must declare any goods over your allowance because they could get seized if you fail to do so.

Alcohol Allowance

There are restrictions for bringing in alcohol. The amount of beer, wine, and spirits you can bring into the UK from outside the EU depends on the type of alcoholic drink. You can bring in 16 litres of beer and 4 litres of wine (not sparkling).

You can also bring either 1 litre of spirits (or other liquors) over 22% alcohol 'or' 2 litres of fortified wine (e.g. port, sherry), sparkling wine and alcoholic drinks up to 22% alcohol.

You can split this last allowance. So, you could bring half a litre of spirits and 1 litre of fortified wine. That equates to half of your allowance for each item.

Note: You may need to pay Excise Duty on alcohol that you declare at customs.

Duty Free Tobacco Allowance EU

Even though you can only bring in one from the following, you can split this allowance too. That means you could bring in 100 cigarettes and 25 cigars (both half of your allowance):

Note: You may need to pay Excise Duty on tobacco that you declare at customs.

Alcohol and Tobacco Allowance for those Under 17

Duty-free allowances for tobacco or alcohol do not apply for those who are under 17 years old. They can bring alcohol and tobacco to the United Kingdom for their own use. But they would need to pay duty or tax on them at the customs department.

Allowance for Other Goods (electrical goods)

What if you are bringing electrical goods into the UK? You can bring in other goods worth up to £390. This applies to things like perfume or electrical goods (or up to £270 if you arrive by private plane or boat).

You pay any duty or tax on its full value if a single item is worth more than your allowance. It does not apply to the value above the allowance.

What Happens if you Go Over Your Allowance?

You will need to pay Customs Duty on any goods that you bring in above your allowance. The rate for customs duty is:

Note: You do not pay Customs Duty if the amount you owe is less than £9.

Paying Import VAT

In some cases you may need to pay standard rates of import VAT on the total value of the goods plus duty.

Banned or Restricted Goods UK

Apart from your individual allowances and duty-free allowances, some products and devices are prohibited from entering the United Kingdom. This rule applies no matter which country you are travelling from.

Customs staff at Border Force will seize any banned or restricted goods from entering into the United Kingdom. A selection of banned and restricted goods include:

Certain restrictions apply for bringing in food and plant products if:

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

Declaring Cash In and Out of the UK

If you are carrying cash equivalent to 10,000 euros or more you must declare it when you enter the United Kingdom from a country outside the EU.

You can do this by completing a cash declaration form at the UK port or airport. The Isle of Man and Channel Islands do not count as being part of the UK for EU cash declaration purposes.

Fuel

Besides fuel held in the standard tank of a vehicle, tourist travellers to the UK may carry reserve fuel for use in that vehicle in an appropriate canister.

Note: Ferry and train companies impose strict limits on the amount of fuel carried outside the fuel tank for safety reasons.

Air Transfers

If you are transferring to another flight out to another EU country or a UK domestic flight, you will usually only need to declare the goods in your hand luggage. You normally do not need to declare your hold baggage until you collect it at your final destination.

Declaring Goods at UK Customs

You must inform customs, called 'declaring', upon arriving in the United Kingdom if you have goods which are:

If you have something to declare you should use the red channel at customs. Use the red-point phone to declare goods to customs if there is no red channel.

Note: You and your baggage can get checked for anything that requires a declaration.

In some cases you could get asked to pay tax or duty on the goods you are bringing into the United Kingdom. You may also get asked to give up banned goods (hand over) or produce licence or permit documents for certain restricted goods.

Important Information iconFailing to do what you are asked usually results in seizure of your goods and any vehicle you use to transport them.

Border Customs Allowances: Bringing Duty Free Goods into the United Kingdom