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UK customs allowances

When arriving in the UK, you may be required to pay customs duty on some goods.
Airport arrivals area
Airport arrivals area
  • British customs laws make a distinction between EU and non-EU goods.
  • Tax-free sales at airports, ports and Eurostar stations have now ended as of 1 January 2021.
  • Make sure you check which customs rules apply to you before travelling to the UK.

If you're planning to bring alcohol, tobacco or souvenirs into the UK, it is important to be fully aware of the British customs laws.

The rules are different depending on whether you're entering Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) or Northern Ireland. 

Check which rules apply to you before you travel by visiting the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) website for full details and customs allowances for personal use. 

How much alcohol can you bring back to the UK?

You can bring a certain amount of alcohol into England, Scotland and Wales without having to pay tax or duty:

  • 42 litres of beer and
  • 18 litres of wine (not sparkling)

You can also bring either:

  • 4 litres of spirits and liquor higher than 22% alcohol or
  • 9 litres of fortified or sparkling wine and drinks under 22% alcohol

The rules are different for Northern Ireland. If you're travelling to Northern Ireland from the European Union, you do not need to pay duty or tax on alcohol or any other goods as long as you transport them yourself, use them yourself or give them as gifts, and paid tax in the country where they were purchased.

If you're travelling from a country outside the EU, the alcohol allowances are lower than those enforced in Great Britain.

Without having to pay tax or duty, you can bring in:

  • 16 litres of beer and
  • 4 litres of wine (not sparkling)

You can also bring either:

    • 1 litre of spirits and liquor higher than 22% alcohol or
    • 2 litres of fortified or sparkling wine and drinks under 22% alcohol

    How much tobacco can you bring back to the UK?

    You can bring a certain amount of tobacco into England, Scotland and Wales without having to pay tax or duty. Travellers can bring in:

    • 200 cigarettes or
    • 100 cigarillos or
    • 50 cigars or
    • 250g tobacco or
    • 200 sticks of tobacco for electronic heated tobacco devices

    You can also split your personal tobacco allowance across categories. For example, you could bring in 125g of tobacco and 25 cigars.

    Similar to alcohol allowances, the amount of tobacco you can bring in to Northern Ireland is unrestricted if coming from the EU. If you're travelling from outside the European Union, the limits for England, Scotland and Wales listed above apply.

    VAT refunds

    On 1 January 2021, the UK government ended tax-free sales in airports, ports and Eurostar stations.

    VAT refunds for overseas visitors in British shops have now been removed, but visitors from overseas can still buy items VAT-free in store and have them sent direct to their address abroad.

    If you're coming to London from outside the UK, find out everything you need to know about UK visas.