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Duty Free Allowances

Volume 472: debated on Tuesday 4 March 2008

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will reassess personal allowances for importation of (a) tobacco products and (b) alcoholic drinks. (191279)

Since the completion of the single market in 1993, persons travelling between EU member states have been able to bring with them unlimited quantities of alcohol and tobacco, provided that the product is bought duty paid in the member state of purchase, is for their own use (including gifts), and is transported by them.

For travellers entering the UK from a non-EU country, there are limits, which are laid down in EU legislation, on the amount of alcohol and tobacco that can be brought back without paying UK tax or duty. Any changes to these allowances must be agreed unanimously by all 27 EU member states.

Following a proposal from the European Commission concerning the tax and duty-free allowances for travellers from non-EU countries, EU Finance Ministers agreed unanimously at the Council meeting on 20 December 2007 on the adoption of a directive which, among other things, will increase the still wine allowance from 2 litres to 4 litres and introduce a new allowance for beer of 16 litres. These changes will come into effect from 1 December 2008. No changes have been made to the allowances for other alcohol or tobacco products. It was also agreed that all the allowances would be reviewed every four years.