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Have You Been Missing Your Booze Cruises This Year?

The days of cheap booze are definitely over ...

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Posted by Roger Eddowes on 30/08/2021 @ 8:00AM

The United Kingdom officially left the European Union on the 1st of January 2021. Since then, any benefits from the traditional Booze Cruise has had some serious limitations ...

If you're used to going on a booze cruise to stock up, everything changed on the 1st January 2021!

If you're used to going on a booze cruise to stock up, everything changed on the 1st January 2021!

copyright: craig melville / pixabay

Sadly for many, it's not possible to load up a van full of wine at your favourite vineyard or case after case of beer from a superstore in Calais then return to the UK with thoughts of the amazing barbeque or party you're going to throw soon.

Since the beginning of 2021, worldwide duty-free limits per person for any alcoholic beverages brought into the United Kingdom are:

  • 42 litres of beer

  • 18 litres of wine

  • 4 litres of spirits or sparkling wine

However, there are things to be aware of when it comes to these limits!

The most important one is that there is a cliff edge when you exceed the duty-free limit. If you do exceed them, you lose the entire allowance. Bring back 43 litres of beer and you end up paying duty on all of it, not just the excess 1 litre.

If you have purchased more and want to bring it home regardless, you must declare it and pay tax and duty to the UK. You can do this up to 120 hours before your return and remember, to stop smuggling, the online service is only available for personal declarations, with improved limits.

Bringing in more means a trip to the customs office on your departure to pay in person and then a very fraught conversation on your return to convince the customs officials that yes, those 90 litres of wine really are for your personal consumption.

"These extended limits are to prevent smuggling!"

When using the online service, you'll need to register the exact price of your goods in the currency you used to pay for them. The online service will calculate the tax and duty for you based on HMRC's own exchange rates. You'll also need to tell them quantities, the country of purchase, your passport number, the date and time of your arrival and give them a credit or debit card to make payment.

If you think that the online service will charge you more than declaring it on arrival then make an oral declaration on arrival back in the UK and use customs tariff rates instead. You may end up paying less in duty that way.

"And don't forget VAT!"

You may have already paid the equivalent of VAT at the time you purchase. The United Kingdom VAT bill will be based on the gross costs, which must include anything you paid abroad.

It seems like the days of a cheap booze cruise are definitely over.

Until next time ...

Business Godparent


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About Roger Eddowes ...


Roger trained at Edward Thomas Peirson & Sons in Market Harborough before working at Hartwell & Co, followed by Chancery, as a partner. He started Essendon Accounts and Tax with Helen Beaumont in 2014 as a general practitioner with a hands-on approach.

Roger loves getting his hands dirty, working with emerging, small-to-medium and family businesses to ensure they receive the best possible accountancy advice. Roger utilises an extensive network of business contacts to leverage the best guidance and practical solutions.