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Duty Free Sales Allowance

Volume 590: debated on Friday 19 June 1998

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asked Her Majesty's Government:When the duty free allowance on imported cigarettes and alcoholic drinks from European Union countries was last increased for United Kingdom residents travelling by train or in their own vehicles; what are the current quantities and cash limits; and how many prosecutions have been brought against offenders during the last three years. [HL2211]

The last general increase in limits on duty free sales was 1 January 1979; the still wine limit was increased in July 1985. Under EC law, duty free and tax free shops cannot sell a traveller on each journey more than:

  • 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250 gms of tobacco;
  • 2 litres of still table wine;
  • 1 litre of spirits or strong liqueurs over 22 per cent. volume or 2 litres of fortified wine, sparkling wine or other liqueurs;
  • 600cc/m1 of perfume and 250cc/m1 of toilet water; and
  • £75-worth of all other goods, including gifts and souvenirs.
Within the last three years 1,357 prosecutions have been brought against those caught smuggling unlawful amounts of duty free and duty paid goods into the UK. Customs' records do not detail the means of travel used by those offenders, nor do they show whether the goods concerned were duty free or duty paid.