Importing booze to the UK
August 30, 2006 4:40 AM   Subscribe

What happens if you order alcohol from one EU country (Italy) to be delivered to another EU country (the UK)?

European trade rules seem to imply that as long as you are playing tax and duty somewhere, you can buy what you want, where you want and take it wherever you please - as long as it's an amount clearly for personal consumption.

I know that this works for a boot load of alcohol when you travel by car, but what happens if you order stuff over the internet?

(I'm considering ordering direct from the manufacturer, so scams are not a worry - I'm purely puzzled by the customs and excise side of things.)
posted by twine42 to Law & Government (6 answers total)
If you're ordering from the manufacturer and having it delivered, customs are going to think it's not for personal consumption, charge you tax and then let you try to reclaim it later. Unless it's as little as a case.
posted by bonaldi at 4:47 AM on August 30, 2006

Response by poster: Ah... I should have made that clear - I'm talking 3-6 bottles not 3-6 cases here. I'm hoping even the most enthusiastic customs guy isn't going to assume that's for resale...
posted by twine42 at 4:53 AM on August 30, 2006

HMRC's 'Shopping on the Internet' page says: 'The duty-free allowances for travellers arriving from outside the EU do not apply to postal importations and commercial goods may have other conditions applied, including the need for a full C88 Customs Import entry'.

The relevant documentation is HMRC Reference:Notice 143.
posted by insomnus at 4:57 AM on August 30, 2006

> The duty-free allowances for travellers arriving from outside the EU

Hmm, but here it's not outside the EU, it's within the EU, so there are no customs to bother with at all.

All sorts of goods can be purchased across EU member countries, as long as they're legal in all those countries of course, and that does include alcohol and tobacco. (Technically, aka pedantically, you're not even really 'importing'. A free trade zone is free trade, not import.) Your order will go through the regular mail or courier. It won't even see a customs office.

If you don't believe me, you could also try asking the manufacturer you're ordering from, they will likely already have shipped across the EU before and will be able to reassure you.
posted by funambulist at 6:49 AM on August 30, 2006

Best answer: From here:

4.5 Can I receive alcohol and tobacco from the EU?

If you receive alcohol and tobacco by post on a commercial basis this is known as 'distance selling', and there is a liability to both excise duty and import VAT. The sender should have made prior arrangements to account for these taxes no later than the date of despatch from the exporting Member State. It is in your own interests to ensure these arrangements have been completed otherwise the goods may be liable to forfeiture. You can find more information about this in Notice 203 Registered Excise Dealers and Shippers, and on the HM Revenue & Customs website 'Buying tobacco over the Internet'.

If you are in doubt about the duty liability of goods you have received you should contact our National Advice Service.

So it looks like VAT must be paid by the sender or by you & excise duty must be paid by the sender or by you. If they are paying, then you need to have proof or else you might forfeit the lot....
posted by khites at 6:51 AM on August 30, 2006

Well, I certainly did not read that paragraph I quoted all that well, I seriously thought it said the same thing as paragraph 4.5 from the notice I linked which I read.
posted by insomnus at 12:35 PM on August 30, 2006

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