Booze Cruise? Here's what you can bring back from the EU

Brexit has caused a big change in the rules regarding on how much alcohol and tobacco you can bring back from the EU.

The old booze cruise system is gone. You can't simply shop in the EU and bring back as much drink and tobacco as you want.

The new system has strict limits on duty-free goods. Anything more than this will require you to pay UK duty - potentially cancelling out any savings.

Here's how it works (all details taken from*

Duty Free limits from the EU

Under the post-Brexit rules which apply from January 2021, UK residents can bring back the following from the EU without having to pay UK duty (excluding N. Ireland - see below). These can be purchased in duty-free shops or in EU shops.

This is the alcohol allowance for one adult (over 18) returning from the EU to the UK:

Beer: 42 litres - that's 74 pints, 84x500ml or 127x330ml

Wine (not sparkling): 18 litres - that's 24 standard 750ml wine bottles

You can also bring back one of the following:

Spirits or liquours over 22% alcohol: 4 litres - that's five 70cl bottles or four 1-litre bottles


Fortified wine (e.g. port, sherry) or sparkling wine: 9 litres - that's 12 750ml bottles of wine

Note: you can split the spirits/fortified wine allowance. For example, you could bring back 4.5 litres of sparkling wine and 2 litres of spirits.

Here are the rules for tobacco:

Cigarettes: 200 - that's 10 standard 20-stick packs of cigarettes

Cigarillos: 100

Cigars: 50

Loose tobacco: 250g

Tobacco sticks for heated tobacco devices: 200

As with tobacco, you can split these allowances. For example, you could bring back 100 cigarettes and 25 cigars.

Bringing back more than your duty-free allowance

If you're shopping in the EU, you can choose to buy more than your duty-free allowance and bring it back to the UK. But if you do, you have to pay UK duty on any alcohol or tobacco that's over your duty-free limit.

This is because the UK is outside the EU. Although you will pay local duty when you shop in EU shops, this is not recognised in the UK. Any amount over your duty-free allowance will be subject to UK duty.

You can declare these goods online up to 72 hours before travel, or you can delcare it and pay when you pass through customs on arrival in the UK. See for details.

Northern Ireland: If you're returning to Northern Ireland from an EU country, the old rules still apply. You can bring back unlimited quantities of alcohol and tobacco from the EU as long as it is for personal use/gifts and you paid duty in the country of purchase.

*All details believed to be correct at the time of publication (Feb 2021). Please check before you travel for the latest rules. takes no responsibility for any errors or omissions.

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