UK Customs Requirements

UK Customs Requirements

When arriving into London at any airport, seaport or train terminal you are required to go through customs border control where your passport and identity will be checked. When entering border control you must remove any sunglasses and have your passport removed from the holder and ready to hand to the customs officer. If you are traveling as a family you must all travel through border control at the same time.

Prior to arrival your carrier will issue you with a landing card, this must be completed prior to arriving at the border.  You must have your passport ready and visa if it is required. (Generally not required for Australian tourists traveling for under 6 months. At border control the office will ask your intended purpose for traveling and you may be required to show an itinerary of your holiday plans including hotel accommodation.

UK Customs Allowances

Similar to the Australian customs laws, when you travel to the UK from Australia you can bring a certain amount of duty and tax-free goods for your own personal use. The amount you can bring into the country applies to perfume, tobacco, alcohol and souvenirs as is known as your Customs Allowance. Like Australia if you exceed this amount then you are required to pay duty on the difference. When bringing in goods you must transport them yourself and they must be used by yourself or given away as a gift. You cannot sell your allowance or combine your allowance with another passenger.

If you are traveling to London from Europe then these allowances may alter, customs in the UK treat EU and non-EU goods differently. Effectively due to free trade rules you can bring in an unlimited amount of goods from the EU without paying duty.

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Alcohol Allowance

The current alcohol allowance for entering the UK is as follows, if you exceed this amount you must declare it on your arrival to the UK and pay excise duty accordingly.

  • beer – 16 litres
  • wine (not sparkling) – 4 litres

You can also bring in either of the following:

  • spirits and other liquors over 22% alcohol – 1 litre
  • fortified wine (eg port, sherry), sparkling wine and alcoholic drinks up to 22% alcohol – 2 litres

The UK rules also allow you to split this spirit allowance, eg you could bring 1 litre of fortified wine and half a litre of spirits (both half of your allowance).

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Tobacco allowance

Similar to the alcohol allowance, you are allowed to bring in a designated quantity of cigarettes and tobacco before you are required to pay excise duty. The current allowance for tobacco is as follows.

  • 200 cigarettes
  • 50 cigars
  • 250g tobacco

You can split this allowance – so you could bring in 100 cigarettes and 25 cigars (both half of your allowance).

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Declaration of your Goods

You must tell customs on arrival in the UK if you have goods over the duty-free allowances or you have any items you are planning to sell which is known as your customs declaration. You must also declare if you have over 10,000 euros or equivalent currency in cash.

On arriving at a UK port or Airport you are required to use the red channel at customs which tells the officer you have something to declare. You only need to declare items over your duty free allowance. Your bags can be checked at any time for undeclared items, on discovery yo may be required to give up these items or pay the excise duty required.

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VAT refunds

Similar to the Australian GST refund scheme, if you are a citizen of a country outside of the EU like Australia you can get Value Added Tax (currently 20%) refunded on purchases you have made while in the UK. When making an individual purchase at a store over the amount of £75 you can request a special VAT 407 form, this form allows you to claim a refund on the goods on your departure from the UK. You must have receipts, VAT407 form and the goods on your departure to receive the refund.

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