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Duty Free Allowance - per person or per family?

Duty Free Allowance - per person or per family?

Old Nov 13, 18, 10:44 am
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Duty Free Allowance - per person or per family?

I believe US has per-family duty free allowances for alcohol. How does UK operate? Customs site says it's 1 liter duty-free - if Mrs herzmeh and I arrive with, say, 2 liters, are we good to go? Also, I know I have to pay duty on anything over, but realistically, do they even bother if you're 1 or 2 liters over?

I frequently cross into Canada to stock up on booze at duty free store at the border and CBP doesn't bother with collecting duty on a few bottles of booze (we're talking under $10 total or so).
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Old Nov 13, 18, 12:21 pm
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It is a per person allowance so a bottle each would be within the allowance.
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Old Nov 13, 18, 11:13 pm
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If you are over the limit and you declare the goods then you will just have to pay the excise duty which is due on them.

If you fail to declare then you will have to pay the excise duty and you might get a fine. If you are just 1 bottle/1 packet cigarettes over then you might get away with a fine if you are nice and polite etc. but it could depend on the mood of the person who stops you on the day and if you have previously been caught or not.

Of course you first need to get caught!


Kids under 17 have no such allowance at all, and you are not allowed to pool your allowance together with somebody else, it is individual and for your own use or to give away for free as a gift.
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Old Nov 14, 18, 5:53 am
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And don't forget that the allowance for wine is in addition to that for spirits, unlike in the US where it's all part of the tiny allowance. Finally, of course, currently if arriving from the EU you can bring as much as you like as long as it's for personal consumption rather than resale.
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Old Nov 14, 18, 11:29 am
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Originally Posted by dj_jay_smith View Post
If you are over the limit and you declare the goods then you will just have to pay the excise duty which is due on them.

If you fail to declare then you will have to pay the excise duty and you might get a fine. If you are just 1 bottle/1 packet cigarettes over then you might get away with a fine if you are nice and polite etc. but it could depend on the mood of the person who stops you on the day and if you have previously been caught or not.

Of course you first need to get caught!


Kids under 17 have no such allowance at all, and you are not allowed to pool your allowance together with somebody else, it is individual and for your own use or to give away for free as a gift.
Oh, no, wouldn't try to smuggle. It isn't worth it for an extra bottle or two. I was wondering if they even bother collecting duty on an extra bottle over the allowance since their US counterparts don't even bother based on my experience.
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Old Nov 15, 18, 1:54 pm
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Originally Posted by herzmeh View Post
.... I was wondering if they even bother collecting duty on an extra bottle over the allowance since their US counterparts don't even bother based on my experience.
If they detect it they should - In the UK mere mortals must pay their taxes, every penny. The penalty / fine is discretionary - duty and VAT isn't
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Old Nov 16, 18, 9:45 am
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Originally Posted by Kettering Northants QC View Post
If they detect it they should - In the UK mere mortals must pay their taxes, every penny. The penalty / fine is discretionary - duty and VAT isn't
In my experience they don't bother if you declare. I've regularly brought in cases of wine, declared them at the red channel, and have been waived through. They usually look surprised that I even "volunteered" for the red channel!
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Old Nov 19, 18, 8:45 am
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IME if you declare a bottle or so over the allowance, they thank you for your honesty, and wave you through. YMMV, and they are certainly within their rights to do the paperwork and charge the fee. The fee is hefty, around £11.50 for a litre of vodka, so it is only really worth doing on expensive alcohol or ones you are unable to get in the UK (it is charged on the % alcohol, not the value of the alcohol).
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Old Nov 20, 18, 2:36 am
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All,

I've used a rather blunt deletion to get this thread back on track, so apologies if you think your post didn't deserve to be deleted.

Please check the context before posting potentially misleading information. If somebody does do this, please point out where the content is inaccurate, and avoid criticising the poster directly. If you have any concerns about a post or a poster's actions, please click the "report post" button and I can help.

Many thanks,

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Old Nov 21, 18, 11:45 am
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Herzmeh, you and Mrs. Herzmeh can arrive with 1 litre each as shown on the following UK government website. But YOU cannot be carrying 2 litres. You must each carry 1 litre.

https://www.gov.uk/duty-free-goods/a...outside-the-eu

Note the phrases, "transport them yourself" and "You can’t combine allowances with other people to bring in more than your individual allowance."

The same applies to all other types of duty free allowances. If you are bringing some gifts for example, the gifts in YOUR suitcase apply to your allowance and the gifts in Mrs. Herzmeh's suitcase apply to her allowance. You cannot combine the allowances and carry all the gifts in YOUR suitcase. This rule gets people in trouble more often than some people seem to realize.
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Old Nov 21, 18, 12:09 pm
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"transport them yourself" does not mean what you think it does. It means you can't for example post them to yourself from abroad but must bring them through customs on arrival into the UK.

Putting 2 persons allowance of a bottle each in the same bag is not combining the allowances. I can see all sorts of situations where people might do this and not fall foul of the law.
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Old Nov 22, 18, 6:48 am
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Originally Posted by dulciusexasperis View Post
https://www.gov.uk/duty-free-goods/a...outside-the-eu

Note the phrases, "transport them yourself" and "You can’t combine allowances with other people to bring in more than your individual allowance."

The same applies to all other types of duty free allowances. If you are bringing some gifts for example, the gifts in YOUR suitcase apply to your allowance and the gifts in Mrs. Herzmeh's suitcase apply to her allowance. You cannot combine the allowances and carry all the gifts in YOUR suitcase. This rule gets people in trouble more often than some people seem to realize.
OT: I thought the moderator's warning was clear enough. apparently not.

---

The "transport yourself" refers to having the goods with you, i.e. they have to be in your checked baggage or hand baggage*. This does not imply that goods have to be separated into different luggage items. These duty-free allowances would not apply if you decide to ship your luggage separately.

Two people travelling together can absolutely put goods falling within their individual allowances into ONE suitcase**. I'm not sure where you're getting your information from, but I rely on several years of declaring goods upon arrival and being occasional checked randomly.

* "Your checked baggage or hand baggage" meaning the baggage of your travel party, not necessarily of a single individual.

**On the contrary, two travellers will not be able to pool their allowances: E.g. Bringing back a single 1.1L bottle of Vodka would not be covered by the duty-free allowances whereas two 0.75L bottles of Vodka packed into the same suitcase would be covered by the duty-free allowances as each passenger is allowed up to 1L of spirits.
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Old Nov 22, 18, 9:40 am
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Originally Posted by WorldLux View Post
OT: I thought the moderator's warning was clear enough. apparently not.

---

The "transport yourself" refers to having the goods with you, i.e. they have to be in your checked baggage or hand baggage*. This does not imply that goods have to be separated into different luggage items. These duty-free allowances would not apply if you decide to ship your luggage separately.

Two people travelling together can absolutely put goods falling within their individual allowances into ONE suitcase**. I'm not sure where you're getting your information from, but I rely on several years of declaring goods upon arrival and being occasional checked randomly.

* "Your checked baggage or hand baggage" meaning the baggage of your travel party, not necessarily of a single individual.

**On the contrary, two travellers will not be able to pool their allowances: E.g. Bringing back a single 1.1L bottle of Vodka would not be covered by the duty-free allowances whereas two 0.75L bottles of Vodka packed into the same suitcase would be covered by the duty-free allowances as each passenger is allowed up to 1L of spirits.
You only circumstance I can see HMRC wanting to apply this rule (in the way inferred by dulciuswhateverious impies) is where a group of independent travelers conspire to illegally import excess duty free products by claiming to be travelling in a group. I.e. A,B C, D each put 4 litres of vodka in their cases - on going through Duty Free A gets stopped, B,C and D continue and are on their way. A claims he is carrying the Vodka for A, B, C and D.

For a family, it would be complete nonsense. My wife and I pack our cases together and mix stuff across both cases to avoid the risk of having no clothing if one case goes missing. We check in together and have the same travel plans - no issue.
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Old Nov 22, 18, 11:28 am
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Originally Posted by dulciusexasperis View Post
Herzmeh, you and Mrs. Herzmeh can arrive with 1 litre each as shown on the following UK government website. But YOU cannot be carrying 2 litres. You must each carry 1 litre.

https://www.gov.uk/duty-free-goods/a...outside-the-eu

Note the phrases, "transport them yourself" and "You canít combine allowances with other people to bring in more than your individual allowance."

The same applies to all other types of duty free allowances. If you are bringing some gifts for example, the gifts in YOUR suitcase apply to your allowance and the gifts in Mrs. Herzmeh's suitcase apply to her allowance. You cannot combine the allowances and carry all the gifts in YOUR suitcase. This rule gets people in trouble more often than some people seem to realize.
Incorrect and misleading advice, yet again.
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Old Nov 22, 18, 12:16 pm
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Originally Posted by Kettering Northants QC View Post
You only circumstance I can see HMRC wanting to apply this rule (in the way inferred by dulciuswhateverious impies) is where a group of independent travelers conspire to illegally import excess duty free products by claiming to be travelling in a group. I.e. A,B C, D each put 4 litres of vodka in their cases - on going through Duty Free A gets stopped, B,C and D continue and are on their way. A claims he is carrying the Vodka for A, B, C and D.

For a family, it would be complete nonsense. My wife and I pack our cases together and mix stuff across both cases to avoid the risk of having no clothing if one case goes missing. We check in together and have the same travel plans - no issue.
People always seem to assume that what can go wrong, won't go wrong. Right up until they discover that what can go wrong, may indeed go wrong. On any given day how a Customs Officer chooses to deal with someone is pretty much an open book. It the CO got out of bed on the wrong side that day, they can and do sometimes choose to interpret their rules as they please. The phrase, 'transport them yourself' is NOT ambiguous. It means that you carry(transport) your personal allowance, yourself. That on any given day, the vast majority of COs choose to define it in one way vs. another, does not mean on any other given day they cannot choose to define it 'as read'. By taking it 'as read' you eliminate the possibility of it being a problem.

'You can't combine with other people' is the other specific term. Do you see anything that says that does not apply to a family member? I don't. Take it 'as read' avoids any possible hassle over 'who bought and owns this bottle?' CO says, 'Got separate receipts for the two bottles, one your receipt, one your spouse's receipt sir? No, so you bought both is that right sir? So they are both yours. You are only allowed one. what about these cigarettes sir? Does your spouse smoke this brand sir? And back to the whiskey, does your spouse drink whiskey sir? Is this or is it not for your spouse's personal use sir? It must be for your spouse's personal use, not your use sir if she is going to say it is her personal duty free allowance sir. So both bottles are for your use only sir.' If a CO decides to give you grief simply because s/he doesn't like the way you look, they will have no problem whatsoever in doing so when YOU have more than your allowance in YOUR suitcase. When you walk through that GREEN path, you are at their mercy.

But if someone can provide a link that shows family members can combine their allowances, I will be more than happy to read it. Every single reference I can find says you cannot combine and nowhere can I find a reference that says a family member is an exception to not combining with another person. That Customs may be lax in how they interpet that doesn't mean they cannot interpret it 'as read' if they choose to do so. Or as the saying goes, 'past performance is no guarantee of future results.'
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