Travellers' tax-free limit for non-EU import rises from £145 to £300 of yesterday (December 1 2008), the EU has put out new duty free regulations,  permitting travellers outside the EU to bring in up to £300 worth of goods, duty-free.  This doubles the old allowance of £145 since 1994.

The rules apply not only to non-EU states, but also to territories where EU rules on VAT and excise don't apply, such as the Canary Islands and the Channel Islands.

We have assembled the 'hit list' for eligible items from various sources such as Which?, The Irish Times, and HM Revenue and Customs for your viewing pleasure:

  • 200 cigarettes, or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco
  • 4 litres of still wine (was previously 2 litres)
  • 1 litre of spirits or strong liqueurs, or 2 litres of fortified wine, sparkling wine, or port and sherry
  • 16 litres for each passenger for beers [Irish Times]
  • £300 worth of all other goods including perfume and souvenirs.

The exception are travellers on private planes or boats, who are only permitted goods up to £210.  Not that many of us have that quality problem.

The BBC, quoting EU Taxation and Customs Union Commissioner Laszlo Kovacs, said, "many of the previous rules, which have been in place since 1969, were no longer relevant to today's world".

As a side note, this limit will rise in January 2009 to £340, due to the deteriorating pound vs euro exchange rates. A further increase to £1k has been proposed for 2011, but this has not yet been confirmed.

The rules for web imports differ, limiting goods outside the EU to £105.  This was a drastic increase from the previous import limit of £18.

But just because you can now buy more, doesn't mean you should. The next time you go outside the EU, make sure you first compare prices on HUKD before going beserk at the airport duty free shops.

Do you think this will make you shop more and buy more stuff at airports?  Have you actually ever found bargains in DFSes?  We'd love to know.

[HM Revenue and Customs via Which? ]


  • John
    So.. I can buy upto £105 worht of goods on the internet from outside the EU (USA, say) and not get charged a penny? I was under the impression there are two things you get hit with when importing something; VAT and import/customs charges/tax. Is this the limit for both? Is there two?
  • Lyrrad
    I think the above is for travellers. I don't think internet sales can possible be classed as travelling, but I stand to be corrected.
  • John
    The answer was in the source article... VAT is still applicable. "From next month online shoppers will no longer have to pay customs duty on non-EU purchases up to £105. The threshold above which customs duty is charged on online purchases from outside the EU rises from £18 to £105 on December 1. This is an early Xmas present for online shoppers from HMRC, who will continue to charge VAT on these items."
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