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18th of April 2014
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Current duty-free allowances (Travel outside the EU)

Created on 16th of August 2007   Last Modified on the 18th of April 2013

A standard duty-free allowance was first introduced in 1954 by the "Convention Concerning Customs Facilities for Touring", held in New York and signed by 84 countries.

The prime purpose of the Convention was to facilitate the flow of travellers across national boundaries and one principal measure agreed was that of an import allowance for travellers, to enable them to enter a signatory country with a limited quantity of goods free of local taxes and without being subject to normal Customs procedures. With a few subsequent modifications, this has remained the standard worldwide duty-free allowance for travellers, and forms the basis for those entering the UK from outside the European Union. Revised allowances for the whole of the EU were introduced on 1 December 2008, the principal changes being the abolition of the previous quantity allowances for perfume and eau de toilette, and a significant increase in the value allowance for all other goods to compensate for the loss of the separate allowances for perfume and eau de toilette. The current UK allowances are therefore as follows:

* 200 cigarettes OR 100 cigarillos OR 50 cigars OR 250 grams of tobacco
* 1 litre of spirits or strong liqueurs over 22% ABV OR 2 litres of fortified wine (such as port or sherry), sparkling wine, or other liqueurs under 22% ABV
* 4 litres of still table wine
* 16 litres of beer
* ?390 worth of all other goods including perfume, cosmetics, gifts and souvenirs (The value allowance was originally set at ?340 when introduced on 1 December 2008. However, because of the falling value of the pound against the euro the allowance was increased to ?390 on 1 January 2010 to ensure consistency with the European allowance of 430 euro).

Allowances are subject to the following conditions: (i) Travellers under the age of 17 cannot have the tobacco and alcohol allowances. (ii) Travellers are only entitled to the allowances if they travel with the goods and do not sell them. (iii) Travellers with other goods worth more than the limit of ?390 must pay charges on the full value and not just the value above ?390. (iv) The value allowance cannot be pooled by those travelling together. (v) Any remaining duty-free and tax-free goods purchased on leaving the UK count as part of the allowance.

Although the above represents the normal world-wide duty-free allowance, some countries do permit travellers to bring in additional quantities of some goods, whereas others have restrictions on certain products, such as tobacco. EU Member States now have the option of applying a lower limit of just 40 cigarettes instead of the standard allowance of 200, but this is primariliy intended for those crossing land frontiers, rather than for air travellers. Travellers are strongly recommended to check with their tour operator or travel agent as to the precise allowances for the country they intend to visit. The Customs Notice for Travellers may be viewed on the links page of this site.

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