Do I have to pay UK duty on cigarettes and alcohol sent via post?
February 26, 2004 3:15 AM   Subscribe

A question about UK/European tax/duty and shopping abroad...

I've tried asking Customs and Excise, but we got trapped in a loop where they asked me my postcode 'to help answer my question more efficiently' and then passed it on to someone else who asked the same question... So I thought I'd ask the experts.

I know that I'm allowed to bring a 'personal allowance' of booze and fags in to the country when I go abroad. And it's all because of the free trade laws across the EU. But what happens when I purchase said items by post?

Assuming it's still a small quantity for personal use, does it count as duty paid, or will I get stung for it?
And all because I fell for Rum 'Elixir' in Cuba and can't find the damned stuff outside of Spain...
posted by twine42 to Shopping (5 answers total)
Beware of internet offers to sell cigarettes by post. They are a rip-off. They don't send them as advertised and then customs slaps a tax on, at least in the UK. Don't know about your rum. Your profile says you live in Chicago, your writing says UK. Cuban products are banned in the US. Assuming you're in the UK, have you looked in Calais or Belgium?
posted by Goofyy at 5:03 AM on February 26, 2004

Response by poster: I'm in the UK. There was a humourour reason for putting in that address on here, but I don't remember why now... (but I've just changed it).

I was wary about the tobacco thing, but decided not to worry about it too much because it was cigars from a company with a UK base as well as a European one. I'll try and track them down in Belgium.

The rum is some stuff that seems to be impossible to find in this country. HoHum...

But your experiences suggest that they will charge tax then? Damn. And the first time I thought I'd found a use for the EU too... ;)
posted by twine42 at 5:34 AM on February 26, 2004

I've only heard bad things about buying tobacco/cigarettes online to bring into the UK, either the product fails to arrive or Customs intercept it and you have to pay the duty . Also the Customs and Excise website appears to be fairly hostile to the whole idea.
posted by squealy at 6:24 AM on February 26, 2004

In the last year Customs have destroyed over 10 million such cigarettes.

Such is the attention to detail that many officers insist on burning the cigarettes singly.
posted by biffa at 7:02 AM on February 26, 2004 [1 favorite]

well ok, i'm a vaguely frequent traveller to spain. like, every month or two. if you're that desperate, i'd offer to be your mule and cart it over? contact me via e.mail if so...

otherwise, like Goofyy said, i'm pretty certain that it *could* get a tax slapped onto it by customs and excise.

Good luck whatever though!
posted by triv at 11:14 AM on February 26, 2004

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