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Import Duty Situations when Importing from EU?

Curious if anyone’s had any experience recently with importing any wines [by courier / post] from EU countries? [Not from Decantalo, who’ve got their things set up very nicely as always!]

I ask as I’ve got a [small; 6 bottles tops] basket ready to go from a supplier in Catania for a few nice Etnas I’ve been saving up for as my Xmas me-gift, but am hovering over finalising it and paying for fear of getting hit for unknown / uncertain import duties etc once it reaches these post-B-word-shores.

The supplier themselves assure me they’ve been sending wines over to The UK and “nobody has had to pay any import duties & costs yet”; but then they, um, would say that :~}

I do get the impression that there’s some less-than-fastidious checks going on at the moment with an emphasis instead on getting things moving quickly again, and I’m kind of inclined to take the risk; but I need to be very careful with my expenditures at the moment as I’m currently working only PT around childcare etc in what’s a less than lucrative area at the best of times.


Sorry to say it, but I don’t think you should place the order unless you’re happy to pay duty and VAT on the wine and a potential admin cost from whichever courier they use.

The supplier may not be aware of anyone getting hit with the tax, but that could be the courier handling it…


I got some from House of Wine (Greek site) a couple of weeks ago.

I didn’t get charged anything extra (that I am aware of), though the delivery charges were initially extortionate (around 50% the cost of the wine itself). I played around with the dates (and the website has always been clunky on a mobile phone, especially when entering data, so caveat) and managed to get them down to a cost that still meant it was cheaper than for bottles from the UK - although, as always, cost isn’t really the driving factor when buying from Europe, but choice and availability. I’ve also had wine from Decantalo.

I’ll add that we just don’t have the resources in the UK to implement the new customs arrangements we claim to have in place. I don’t know whether we ever will (seems utterly pointless, but, you know, it’s Brexit so should be self-explanatory in that respect).


Yes: Imported 18 bottles Bordeaux last year and got sh@fted by import duties, which as @Tannatastic says pretty much added 50%.

In fairness to the supplier it’s not their fault & they cannot be expected to know the tax situation in every country they sell to.

The courier (DHL in my case) scrupulously added import tax, vat, AND additional paperwork processing cost for their trouble. Maybe your supplier has a way of sending a 6 bottle case under the radar ?

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However the big (and reputable) companies like DHL do have the resources, they have to, to stay in business.

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This may seem a very rudimentary theory - it’s just something that has struck me whilst playing around with dummy orders over the last couple of months - but either going over 12 bottles or around £150 worth of order seems to trigger something that puts the costs of delivery up extortionately. Is it just possible that there is a threshold below which it just isn’t worth the administrative paperwork?

For the record my delivery was by UPS, and after playing around with dates/cost/volume it almost halved the initial delivery cost.


Thank you both; it’s a dilemma just above what to cook for tea tonight in the scale of things, and life will go on either way.

Two ironic curiosities in these two replies though - I’ve for a few weeks now been eyeing up that Albarino you were gushing over last night, @Brocklehurstj , so that’ll certainly make a decent replacement if I don’t do my Etnas.

And @Tannatastic - I was drooling over the numerous Xinos etc at House of Wine only last night. They’ve got some great stuff at the moment. I may take another drool tonight.

In my fastidious searching for comparing price & vintages etc etc though, I came across a new [to me] UK-based site, which has some decent Greek wines in it - https://www.aspris.co.uk/ - including a certain “Boutari Grande Reserve Naoussa” - one of the big wines when I was living in Greece many moons ago. This is the first time I’ve seen it for sale here [not that I’ve been specifically looking for it]. This stuff was one of the first wow-moments in wine for me, and I still remember being amazed at how good it was for the pennies paid for it and wondering why Greek wine no particular reputation back then. I knew next to nothing about wine in those days, but I knew what I liked etc! I shall be snagging a bottle for old time’s sake soon, and hoping it’s as good as I remember it being. Not quite an Etna substitute probably, but then you never know. I do remember it being very good, and it’s only £14.50 now, so nothing to lose.


Incidentally, did you know they have two versions of their main website? A translated one and an ‘international’ one. Their site is very mobile browsing unfriendly, but it appears that some wines don’t appear on both (I use the translated site, though sometimes it throws you onto the international one, I know not why).

I had noticed a long old while ago, but in truth I have many many tabs constantly open on my poor old computer, one of which is that site - I’m an eejut for spending unhealthy numbers of person-hours rummaging around my numerous wine-tabs to see whats new / renew acquaintances with old flames / drive myself nuts with vinous-desire. I shan’t tell you or anyone I’ve got 40-50 tabs open in each of 5 windows open, 3 of which are exclusively wine things. Sometimes I prune them back, but they and new ones soon return :~}


Yes, definitely worth looking at. It’s the first time I’ve really regretted not buying multiple bottles of something.

Normally I’m quite comfortable with the fact that that my preference for variety (whether country, grape or style) means I quite often only have the one bottle, particularly with pricier wines. Last night I was quite uncomfortable about that.

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This has just happens to me with Portugal Vineyards …. Totally shafted ! :see_no_evil:


I don’t think I’d be risking ordering from a European supplier at the moment. I’m acutely aware of these sort of problems; one of our major suppliers is based in the Republic of Ireland and we have had no end of difficulties, extra costs etc. getting stuff from them. Since a large part of their customer base is in the UK they have eventually bitten the bullet and set up a UK company. So now when you order from them they ship to their UK company who then technically make the sale to us and delivers to us. It only cost them €200k to set up so their customers can now be supplied just as easily as before but inevitably results in a couple of days extra on delivery times. Nothing but upsides to Brexit, eh?


I’m a bit surprised by that @MikeFranklin, as a poster from NI a couple of weeks ago wrote that there was no point ordering wines for collection in the Republic as prices there were very expensive. Otherwise NI members, at least, could get wines delivered to a friend in the South and nip over the border to pick them up.

I ordered a bottle of Barbeito madeira from Diogos a few months ago. The wines weren’t otherwise available in the UK to the best of my knowledge, and as mentioned by someone else I was ready to pay extra as necessary. Sat fingers crossed for ten days, but bottle delivered with no additional charges.

It may have helped that it was a single bottle. But on the other hand it was expensive (>£200).

Having dealt with the ordering and delivery process the drinking has been a joy though. Fully recommend anyone looking at Barbeito’s higher end wines. (I was prompted by Jancis Robinson review in the summer that rated some in the 19-20 point range, so I couldn’t resist) Bottle is in the fridge, keeping beautifully, and great to have a very smooth glass occasionally.


Here you go, Wright Wine in Skipton. I had a single harvest Barbieto 2003 from them earlier this year - very fine indeed. They also have an outstanding range of wines - which are not listed online.


What do you mean by import tax? As far as I am aware, and having done a few orders from EU based suppliers since the new arrangements came into force, the additional charges should be:

  • Duty (£2.23 per 75cl bottle)
  • 20% VAT (charged on the total value of the wines plus the duty)

Plus, if the tax collection has been outsourced to the courier (which it usually is) an administration fee (£10-15).

That should allow you to work out the total cost of what you will have to pay. In some cases it can still be cheaper to order from the EU, albeit much less likely than before given that you basically now have to pay VAT twice in the UK and EU. There are procedures for the sellers to deduct/reclaim the EU VAT in these cases but generally most sellers are too small to bother with the administrative hassle of this (superiore.de is an exception…trust the Germans to follow the rules to the letter :slight_smile: )

There does also seem to be, as others have noted, a £150 threshold below which none of these additional costs seem to apply. This was also the case for me for an order that shipped from Switzerland.

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This from the website of Boursot, a merchant in Ardres who have/had lots of British clients:

“Since 1 January 2021 there has been ongoing chaos in customs regarding the importation of wine. It seems that UK duty is now payable on arrival but it does not seem to be applied right across the board. We did think that it applied only to imported ex-VAT wine value above 150€/£135 but recent experience tells us that this may not apply to alcohol imports. We have tried seeking official advice but cannot get a coherent answer. As soon as we know definitively, we will let you know.”

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Ahh, very useful to know! Thank you.

Sorry, I’m not quite sure what you are saying here. I wasn’t saying anything about NI or moving stuff across the Irish border. I was merely citing the problems and costs involved now in getting anything imported from Europe that used to be hassle free and has now become complex and expensive, sufficiently so that our Irish supplier was forced to set up a UK subsidiary so they could manage those hassles so their customers don’t get put off and go elsewhere.


You’re right. I was being vague. Sorry. Just wondering why anyone would use an Irish importer when a member in NI wrote that prices were very high in the Republic. Rather off topic in retrospect.

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