01438 741177         thewinesociety.com

The Society's Community

Brexit and ordering wine from France for personal consumption

So I saw there was an old thread about this but not much had been written on it since 2019 so I thought I would start a new one. So getting a lot of conflicting information out there and was just wondering if anyone had any experience of ordering wine from France this January and whether they where forced to pay lots of extra tax and customs duties on it once it got to the UK as reading horror stories online about people ordering clothes from Europe and being hit with huge additional taxes. Essentially the reason I am asking is I run a wine team and we are currently in training for the Left Bank Bordeaux cup and need to source lots of different wines from the Left Bank which are quite hard to get in the UK and also very expensive so use Idealwine a lot however I am worried despite ordering less then 18 bottles that I will potential be hit with a huge additional bill.

Well looks like I have an answer to myself. All wine deliveries are on hold to the UK from Idealwine as they have no idea what the customs procedures are for wine yet.


We’ve got a bit of a discussion going (more generally than just France) here. The post I’ve linked to is one with the email from Portugal Vineyards on its new post brexit policy. It’s the first any of us has had from a European supplier about personal shipping to the UK.


Thanks for that hadn’t seen that thread. But yeah its a complete and utter mess was basically the reply I got from Idealwine, saying all that seams to be talked about is fish and nothing about wine.


What exactly are you looking for??
Maybe you could have a look on cellartracker and see if anyone ants to part with a particular bottle? Or as a community we may be able to suggest alternatives for you??

Thanks for the kind off Leah. It wasn’t anything specific just trying to get a wide variety which you can’t get through one specific wine merchant in the UK plus before Brexit it was marginally cheaper on Idealwine to order the left bank wine as they have a very good fixed price list which I have used in the past. Plus there auctions give you a great chance to get your hands on some amazing aged wines. So probably going to just order a few bottles from multiple wine merchants. Hopefully eventually some agreement can be made as know this is not just effecting private vendors as have a friend who works for Sotheby’s wine and they have had to just cancel there first auction of the year as a result of not being able to get the wine from France and other places as no effective system seams to be in place and the taxes are incredibly high.

1 Like

Thanks for this, I was a regular customer of Idealwine but couldn’t see any statement on their website. I bought probably 100 bottles from them in the autumn as I could tell this was coming. Was such an excellent source of mature Bordeaux and white Burgundy (red Burgundy was always expensive, although I also used to buy that) and also gave me an opportunity to dabble in things like Jamet that are so expensive in the UK. Sigh!


It may be worth scrolling the tons of online auctions to see if you can get what you are looking for… this whole thing is a complete Shitshow! :disappointed_relieved:

I don’t know if any of the info, below, will inform your specific requirements but I hope your post raises some informed discussion and good advice!
This link to a Jancis Robinson article may shed some light (or not) - but personal imports appear problematic.
https://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/importing-wine-post-brexit. Currently, I’m doing a deeper dive to importing 8-10 cases directly from my friendly wine-grower pal in Italy (for personal use). I have done so painlessly in the past.
My reading of the JR article is that there is complex paperwork, additional tariffs on transportation costs, and even if collected in the EU in-person (whenever that might be), there are only modest duty free allowances.
The paperwork might require a specialist intermediary - which is fine if I can find one and the costs aren’t prohibitive, although my reading of the article suggests that an intermediary physically based at a French port is a requirement rather than a convenience.
In any case, however discouraging things appears in GB, spare a thought for those of us in NI who can’t even get deliveries of new orders or in-bond stocks from TWS atm (no explanation yet). Virgin Wines and Naked Wines (apparently) are so, together with specialist local wine merchants, at least I won’t go thirsty for a while. What a mess!

1 Like

Extracts from an email from a merchant in France:

As you may realise by now, if you send from, or receive in, the UK a parcel over £135 in value, there are now customs forms to fill in and new taxes to pay. A visit to the relevant gov.uk web page will leave you more confused than enlightened.

Deliveries to the UK are now taking a little longer owing to additional paperwork, new checks and perhaps because the new import systems still need more time to bed down. If you are in other European countries, delivery is as fast as always – two days or three days maximum.

In the UK we suggest you should expect to pay the UK duties, although as stated earlier, nothing border-wise is completely transparent yet. It is also possible that customs are not yet ready for such dramatic systems changes so your order might get through without additional charge but we simply don’t know. Plan for the worst, and you may be pleasantly surprised!

1 Like

What else can we order from our brothers and sisters on the mainland: I believe I have discovered coffee is free from customs duties if below a £135 basket total. It might not be wine but the company is in France :joy: Any other goodies people have discovered??

1 Like

Unfortunately the pejorative narrative “post Brexit” is used in explanation of the full effects of the EU Regulation now operating as a result of the NI Protocol/EU Border status in the W>A/Trade protocol. It is my understanding that VAT (an EU Tax in lieu of Sales/Purchase Tax) is levied at the source of the transaction and not in duplication. I am not aware of any additional, and discretionary levies on Wines and Spirits as specific consumer product in sale and import direct and not treated as bonded merchandise. Caution and Circumspection perhaps!

Your use of the S word is interesting . For medical reasons I always look at my produce but i cant imagine anyone looking at it otherwise. Which may be your point in using it.
Many years ago i new someone who lived in a remote location and were not connected to public facilities, So there produce went into holes in the garden . Every year they produced the most wonderful tomato crop.

In theory… VAT is now levied at the prevailing rate in the country of the customer, rather than that of the retailer.

Some merchants and couriers have got much of this sorted out nicely. There are couriers who will acknowledge the value of the goods they are delivering, and process the VAT in the destination country, passing that cost back to the merchant (who will have known it when you placed your order and paid up-front anyway). This method involves zero extra work for the customer, and only a small extra bit of admin for the seller. Some have this working nicely.

Others, though, are not so ready or prepared. Some don’t know what to do at all. Others will ship without this arrangement, leaving the customer to declare and pay when the goods arrive, probably being held up en route (as you will no doubt recall packages always were from time to time if coming in from outside the EU - e.g. from the USA.)

I think I’m right in saying that there are no customs charges by way of import or export duties - goods from / to EU and UK are tariff free?

1 Like

Except, of course, for alcohol duty. However I suspect the customs charges we are hearing about might be customs admin charges, maybe?


This is what I’d been lead to believe. The extra charges is the courier companies passing on the cost of the reams of red tape and extra paper work that those pesky bureaucrats force on us as part of EU membershi… Oh! Wait!


Just had this through, not looked into it, but appears promising


The idea of everything being included up-front is very attractive.

Last year I bought a couple of polo shirts from Switzerland, i.e. outwith the EU when we were in it, the VAT on some arbitrary value and the £18 Parcelforce processing fee doubled my cost by the time it was delivered.

Yes, they are back, but prices are far from compelling it would appear. I checked the price of Montsant Blau, which I bought in November from them for about £6.80 a bottle… now about £9.50. TWS sell it at £9.95. After carriage costs this doesn’t stack up. Same for Albarino de Fefinanes. Bought for about £12.75 in Nov, now about £3 more. TWS price slightly higher again but carriage costs will wipe out the difference and more.

It might well do for more unusual wines not generally available in the UK but based on my very limited sample it’s not encouraging.

Brexit dividend delivers again…someone slap Gove with a rotten fish for me please.


And if one drives over and collects then the duty-free limits are now:-

42 litres of beer
18 litres of still wine
4 litres of spirits OR 9 litres of sparkling wine, fortified wine or any alcoholic beverage less than 22% ABV
1 Like