01438 741177         thewinesociety.com

The Society's Community

Post Brexit Ordering of Wine

Historically ordering direct from the country of origin has been favourable price wise whilst free trade has reigned.

People have been rewarded for knowing the cost of a wine locally vs supplying direct from the country of origin.

Since Brexit I’ve 100% stopped ordering from abroad…… so far

I thought I’d kick off a thread where it’s favourable to source from abroad and also solicit requests for where this is the case


I would be interested in buying direct from some producers who are willing to ship internationally but am concerned about the UK charges.
I know there are new VAT rules for companies shipping to the UK effectively requiring the foreign seller to register as a UK VAT entity. I can’t see a small wine producer being willing to do that. This means every shipment going through customs with full duty and VAT being added and then the carrier’s administrative charge going on top.

Last year I bought a couple of polo shirts from Switzerland in a sale and the VAT (£12, based on what HMRC considered the value) and Parcelforce charge (£18) were more than my original cost.

1 Like

I have also stopped importing wines direct from abroad, though in my case I was using Portugal Vineyards as a way of exploring that country’s very interesting wine offer. At the cheaper end, there were real bargains. However the reality is, I wasn’t paying UK duty and also paying local VAT, which is lower than the UK. That is what has mostly removed the cost advantage; delivery costs seem to be a little higher, presumably because of the extra paperwork, but it’s not the main issue.

At the moment, they appear to happily ship the wine to the UK tax free and it seems it does sometimes get through on that basis, presumably because customs have bigger fish to fry. But looking at social media, it seems increasingly people are being hit with a big bill from their courier for duty and tax, so that is why I turned to the WS. Can’t see myself buying from abroad again, except maybe very specific wines I want. This is a shame but then I suppose I have been a tax avoider all these years…


I had an email from Boursot, a wine merchant in Ardres, near Calais, the other day.
They advise that there appears to be no UK tax charged on wine orders of less than €150.
Small orders, of course, attract relatively high delivery charges, and there’s no mention of any ‘admin charges’ imposed by some carriers.


This isn’t necessarily true - the same would have applied to goods exported from the UK, and so under reciprocal tax arrangements, the net benefit was to the consumer in all countries. Now, UK and EU exports to each other, I suspect, are falling. A classic lose-lose.

I really don’t see the benefits of taking more tax on less imports whilst simultaneously loosing national income. I’m sure someone will be along to shout ‘Freeports!’ at me soon (qv ‘Fish!’).


Not a chance!!
Why bother and potentially take risks?
The Society knows what they are doing and I trust them.
By and large, my days of taking a punt are long gone. :dragon:

I’m not talking import taxes or tariffs here. I don’t believe there are any on wine now from Europe, nor was there before. It’s the duty and VAT that is the issue. As you will surely know, many European countries have low or no duty on wine, certainly a lot less than our quite penal rates. Often they have lower rates of VAT too. The majority of wine consumed in the UK has had to include that UK duty and VAT when we were in the EU. Everything we buy from the WS for example. There was an exception, if you brought in wine for personal consumption, whether accompanying it personally (e.g on a ferry) or if having it sent to your home via a delivery company. Then duty was not charged and you only had to pay VAT at the local rate in the country of origin. The position now, as I understand it, is that you can still do that if personally accompanied, but not if you use a delivery company. Maybe the booze ferry will be re-born.

On a related note, I gather that the VAT position was due to change anyway, including within the EU, so that the rate charged is that of the location of the consumer and that the monies collected go to that country. That is as I understand it. Alcohol duty, however, will be unaffected.

I think it’s in the too hard box for the time being when TWS can do the heavy lifting


That is very interesting. I’ve googled this a lot and can find no official information on such a limit. Maybe it is unofficial, in other words customs just aren’t going to bother with anything below a certain value, even though they legally could.

Maybe I should try Portugal Vineyards again, keeping under the limit you mention.

You can do it, but are now reduced to 24 bottles per person. And booze cruises unfairly disadvantage those living far away from ports or the continent, and also restrict the supply of wines from further afield - such as Greece - where I suspect a booze cruise to collect those 24 bottles would just not be cost-effective. Moreover, the environmental impact of everyone jumping in their cars is surely higher than it being shipped as part of a consignment?

As I say, I see no progress, both for consumers in this country, or businesses trying to export or import. It seems very regressionist, and given China’s recent treatment of the Australian wine industry, seems a daft time to be ‘tilting’ towards the Pacific (and more like tilting at Windmills).


The two cases is for booze cruises I assume (or indeed any return from abroad)? I don’t think it applies to personal imports via a courier, as I used to do. In essence that was avoiding tax- duty and higher rates of VAT that I otherwise would have had to pay in the UK- but it was nice while it lasted. Someone on another thread suggested that consignments of below EUR150 are not being charged duty and VAT. I don’t think that is a rule or law, rather expediency on behalf of customs, to not bother with low value imports. Even so, I might try another order below that value with Portugal Vineyards to see if it holds true.

I personally voted leave and remain convinced by the logic so it may be we are on different sides there but I don’t think now is the time, or this forum is the place, to re-visit the pros and cons debated 4 years ago, other than to say I accept there was a case for remain, as well as leaving.

The post-Brexit limits are as follows:-
How much you can bring depends on the type of alcohol. You can bring in:
beer - 42 litres
wine (not sparkling) - 18 litres
You can also bring in either:
spirits and other liquors over 22% alcohol - 4 litres
fortified wine (for example port, sherry), sparkling wine and alcoholic drinks up to 22% alcohol - 9 litres
You can split this last allowance, for example you could bring 4.5 litres of fortified wine and 2 litres of spirits (both half of your allowance).

Note that these allowances are per person and in my experience one can bring in still wine under the second section (spirits etc).

That gives a total of 54 litres (72 bottles, six 12-bottle cases) per couple.

Eurotunnel have reverted the duty-free shop in their Calais terminal to true duty-free and I assume the ferry operators have or will.


I agree because I believe that all allowances are for items for personal consumption by the traveller.

Thanks for the specific information above on duty free allowances.

I agree the allowances now don’t apply to delivery via courier, but they used to, provided they were for personal consumption, indeed there used to be no published maximum as I recall. Though in practise I’m not sure how much the personal consumption thing was ever really checked pre Brexit. I’m quite sure some people used foreign importers for weddings, at the very least, for example. And on bringing wine with you back from holiday, I heard tales of people pitching up at the border with 30, 40, 50 or more cases and claiming it was personal consumption. And for some, that would only be a year’s supply at best!

I still plan to do an experimental order for under EUR 150 from the previous supplier, Portugal Vineyards. The other poster above who mentioned this unspoken limit may well be right, I’m sure there is a point below which it’s not worth customs’ while, and the worst case will be I get a seperate duty and VAT bill and I will have learned my lesson.

This from a seasoned traveler….who stays within the limit…

Buying wine duty free

The duty-free allowance per person is
 18 litres of wine,
 16 litres of beer, and
 4 litres of spirits (or 9 litres of other alcoholic drinks like port and Champagne).

Up to these levels there is no expectation to declare that you are bringing anything back and two people in a car can save over £150 just on the wines.

If you bring back more than this amount you are expected to complete an on-line declaration which details litres of wine you’re bringing back and the price you paid. You can find the form via the Eurotunnel site or directly via the uk.gov website. You will then have to pay on-line an amount based on excise duty of £2.67 (incl VAT on the duty!), plus 20% VAT on the wine purchase price in France.
This will add over £3 per bottle to the total cost, and possibly much more if you are buying expensive wines.

With this form you simply drive through the Nothing-to-Declare section on returning into the UK.

But, if you want to bring back more than 90 litres, be warned! If you try to enter more than 90 litres on the on-line form, you are told that this will be treated as a commercial transaction and that you must report to customs with your purchase on arrival.

We didn’t want to spend hours being grilled at the terminal so didn’t test this option.


So far I have ordered from Decantalo and not had to pay anything above the (now higher) prices listed. For stuff you can get over here they’re now within a few quid of the UK prices if not closer, but they still have a far better range of Spanish wines.

I have ordered from https://www.wineandspirits1868.com/ twice. Once I had to pay duty and tax (and a very hefty charge from the courier for processing it), once I did not.

I am going to give Portugal Vineyards a go next.


Were you able to list your wines in descending order of purchase price so those over the allowance minimise VAT?

As I understand it , If you go above the duty free personal allowance you pay duty on the whole consignment.


That’s my understanding too.

I did a trial order in January this year - 6 bottles Post Scriptum 2018 for €86 plus €25 shipping. I wasn’t charged any extra and it arrived well packed as always. I suspect there’s no issue with small orders or else I was lucky.