YOU can sometimes find great bargains by shopping abroad thanks to favourable exchange rates and different taxes.
But you should be careful about how much you bring into the UK as it can mean additional taxes and, if you're suspected of smuggling, your shopping could be confiscated.
The HMRC has strict rules about what you can and can't bring into the UK, as well as how much you can bring.
Going over that limit could land you with a fine or even prison if you're found guilty of smuggling, and your shopping will get confiscated.
The HMRC states: "If you get caught smuggling goods or selling goods you did not declare, you could face prosecution and imprisonment.
"If we are satisfied that the goods are for a commercial purpose, we may seize them and any vehicle used to transport them, and may not return them to you."
So if you're planning to do some duty free shopping, here's what you need to know:
When you're returning home from the EU
At the moment, you can bring most things into the UK from the EU without paying additional duty (a tax) and you're allowed an unlimited amount provided that it's for yourself or to use as gifts.
However, goods brought within the EU are technically not duty free – a local tax is generally already paid.
If you're planning to sell the goods, or if you will receive payment of any kind, then it would be classed as "commercial use" and you may have to pay additional tax.
This one applies to EU countries, and not to all the countries in Europe – but there are also some exceptions.
The EU countries
- Czech Republic
- Ireland (Republic of)
- The Netherlands
- Spain (but not the Canary Islands)
- The UK (but not the Channel
Even though the whole of Cyprus is part of the EU, "goods from any area of Cyprus not under effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus are treated as non-EU imports".
And for Gibraltar, even though it's part of the EU, it's outside of the Communities Customs territory so separate rules apply.
However, while technically you're allowed to bring in an unlimited amounts of certain products for yourself, UK Border Force says that they may investigate if you bring in more than:
- 800 cigarettes
- 200 cigars
- 400 cigarillos
- 1kg tobacco
- 110 litres of beer
- 90 litres of wine
- 10 litres of spirits
- 20 litres of fortified wine (for example, port or sherry)
When you're returning from outside the EU
When you're returning from countries and destinations outside of the EU, including the Canary Islands, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar, different rules apply.
There are limits to what you can bring back without paying additional tax, and the items must be brought back by you for your personal use or as gifts.
If you do bring back more than the allowed limit, you will have to declare these items on arrival and pay any additional duty.
If you don't, and the items are found through search, they will be confiscated.
And if you're suspected of smuggling, you could face prosecution and be fined or even end up in prison.
What the duty free limits are from outside of the EU
For alcohol, you can bring up to 16 litres of beer and 4 litres of still wine.
You can also bring in 1 litre of spirits or other liquors over 22 per cent ABV, or up to two litres of fortified wine, sparkling wine or other alcoholic drinks under 22 per cent ABV.
For tobacco, you can bring in 200 cigarettes, 100 cigarillos, 50 cigars or 250g tobacco.
You won't have to pay any duty for any alcohol or tobacco below these limits but they must be for your person use.
If you do declare them though, you may have to pay excise duty.
For other purchases, you can bring in a total of £390, or £270 if travelling by private plane or boat.
That means if you buy an iPhone outside of the EU at duty free, you will have to declare it.
If the item is worth more than £390 (or £270), you will have to pay duty on the full value of your shop – that's everything you're bringing back.
The rate is set at 2.5 per cent for purchases of up to £630 and will vary if it's over that.
In some cases, you may also have to pay import VAT on top of the duty.
Sun Online Travel previously revealed how Brits could be paying up to 150 per cent more at airport duty free than in high street shops.
However, there are savings to be made if you're shopping for beauty products or spirits.
Those who want to bring wine back might want to think twice, as flying is the tipple's worst enemy.
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