IMPORTING ALCOHOL FROM THE EU FOR PRIVATE CONSUMPTION

Prior to Brexit, it was possible to make considerable savings on spirits, liqueurs and other alcohol purchased by mail order for private consumption from EU countries. The goods would arrive by well-known courier/parcel service deliveries (not heavy haulage/palletised freight).


Brexit hasn’t affected the prices being offered by these same distributors but clearly things have changed now that the UK is not an EU member state.


I’ve looked at various pages on the Gov.UK website and whilst there’s information on excise, custom duty and VAT, as well as personally carrying alcohol into the UK, I can’t see any information on private UK citizens importing from an EU based seller and having the goods shipped here with a courier/parcel service, especially in terms of how the duties and tax are collected, what paperwork is completed and by whom.


From what little I have found, it would appear that the duty of around £11 per litre of 40% spirits, plus 20% VAT negates all advantages of sourcing items at bargain prices, and that’s before any other / admin costs the courier may add on. A quick tally seems to add about £100 (subject to the exchange rate used by HMRC) to an order of around a dozen bottles compared to the pre-Brexit position.


If you’re a forum member with post-Brexit experience of what I have described, I would welcome details of what the key changes are, whether the changes have deterred you from continuing to purchase this way and if so, what legitimate options you’re left with.


This post isn’t about Brexit per se, or commercial imports, it’s about importing goods for personal use (the new MSE rules have been read and I’ll be “staying on topic” as instructed!)


Thanks in advance for anyone who has experience and advice to share.



Comments

  • xxxxxxxx
    xxxxxxxx Posts: 425 Forumite
    First Post Name Dropper First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    I do know that the tax / duty is collected by Royal Mail before they will deliver and they add on a collection/processing fee of about £8 

    https://personal.help.royalmail.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/7208/~/help-with-paying-customs-fees 


    https://www.gov.uk/goods-sent-from-abroad/tax-and-duty

    It says you should expect the duty to be paid at the point of sale so you should check with the supplier they have included customs duty. It also gives the rates of duty on the link in the excise section.
  • Randolf_B
    Randolf_B Posts: 10 Forumite
    First Post
    The Gov.UK link you've kindly given has some very useful information. I hadn't been able to find this particular one when searching. Thank you. It would appear that success (in terms of just receiving the goods rather than making useful savings) depends on the seller completing the customs paperwork correctly. That in itself is enough to put me off risking placing an order worth a few hundred quid! Thanks again for your reply, much appreciated.
  • prowla
    prowla Posts: 13,150 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post
    edited 8 August 2021 at 11:42AM
    The selling price should either:
    1. exclude EU local tax and be subject to UK tax on import, which the courier will pay it on your behalf and charge back to you plus a handling fee for doing that service, or
    2. be sold including UK taxes, in which case (case - haha!) they should come through customs without fee.
    If the goods are produced in the EU, then they are not subject to import duty - that is the free trade deal; however, if they are produced outside of the EU, then they are.
  • Randolf_B
    Randolf_B Posts: 10 Forumite
    First Post
    Hi prowla,
    Many thanks for your reply, much appreciated. Could I trouble you to send the official link to that (insofar as it relates to import of alcohol for personal use, rather than importing in a business capacity)? I can only find this link, which is deficient in that it gives details of importing EU produced alcohol into Northern Ireland, but isn't specific about EU produced alcohol being imported into the UK for private use. Notwithstanding that, the implication is that alcohol is treated differently to general goods owing to the fact that this Gov.UK page was updated in January 2021. My seller in Spain shows prices including tax (but doesn't specify whether that's local or UK rated).
  • HanSpan
    HanSpan Posts: 535 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Did you ever find the answer? 
    I'm considering buying a few bottles of wine from Greece (all because a friend sent me a pic of a wine list from a fancy restaurant that included sparkling retsina!)
    They seem happy to send here and the price for delivery is not awful, but I don't want to be hit with extortionate extra costs and a huge delay in delivery.


    I've tried to message them but it fails to send.



  • Marcon
    Marcon Posts: 10,594 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Name Dropper Combo Breaker
    HanSpan said:
    Did you ever find the answer? 
    I'm considering buying a few bottles of wine from Greece (all because a friend sent me a pic of a wine list from a fancy restaurant that included sparkling retsina!)
    They seem happy to send here and the price for delivery is not awful, but I don't want to be hit with extortionate extra costs and a huge delay in delivery.


    I've tried to message them but it fails to send.



    I wonder if you spotted this info on their site, which might give you the answer:

    'The delivery of products to any country other than Greece may pass through a customs clearance process at the destination country. The cost involved in such occasions are not included in the total order and shipping costs. This process in most occasions will be conducted by the Courier which will inform you of the costs involved before the delivery. In addition, some countries outside EU may seize the products based on their legislation that continuously changes in many countries. It is up to the customer to decide to take this risk, knowing that the products may be seized or additional costs may come about after customs clearance process.'   
    Googling on your question might have been both quicker and easier, if you're only after simple facts rather than opinions!  
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