Always check with Customs before buying tobacco on-line. Most sites offering cheap cigarettes are a rip off.
All cigarettes bought via the Internet must bear UK taxes. There are no allowances or loopholes.
Cigarettes bought from sites that do not arrange payment of UK taxes are liable to forfeiture. In the last year Customs have destroyed over 10 million such cigarettes.
Detailed below is a series of frequently asked questions concerning the purchase of cigarettes over the Internet.
Yes, but ONLY if the UK VAT and excise duty is paid on the goods. The person who sells the goods must make arrangements for these taxes to be paid before they are sent to you. If you are a customer, it is in your interests to ensure this has been done, otherwise the goods are liable to forfeiture by Customs at the postal depot.
There are no statutory reliefs for tobacco goods posted as gifts from other EC countries, however Customs will not normally make additional charges provided that:
Purchasing cigarettes from an internet company in another EC country to send to a family member or friend as a gift will NOT qualify for relief of duty and VAT.
Under an EU directive (Council Directive 92/12/EEC), tobacco dispatched by a vendor in one member state to a private individual in another forms a commercial transaction and is liable to duty in the member state of destination.
The current rate of Excise duty on 200 king size cigarettes is around £32.20. Before placing an order you should ask yourself whether the prices being advertised on the web site indicate that the vendor is taking these charges into account and properly accounting for them. If not, your goods are liable to forfeiture and you put yourself at risk of prosecution.
No, Customs only restore seized cigarettes in exceptional circumstances. We do not ordinarily restore seized goods as we wish to:
Yes - even if the relevant taxes have been paid in another EC country, the UK duty and tax must be paid when the goods enter this country.
The end of duty free within the EC has had no effect . "Duty free" remains a concession available to travellers to and from countries outside of the EC. The Excise Goods (Personal Reliefs) Order 1992 requires that, to qualify for relief of duty, the goods purchased abroad must be personally imported by the traveller. This means that the goods must be carried with them at the time of their return to the UK. Purchasing goods over the Internet does not qualify for this relief of duty.
Customs is well aware of these sites and we are vigorously pursuing action against them. Our officers at postal depots are actively targeting postal importations of cigarettes.
Yes, but we do not comment on individual investigations that may be ongoing.
Tobacco sent from outside the EC must be properly declared and will be liable to import duty, UK VAT & excise duty. There are concessions for "gifts" but these are subject to certain conditions:
In addition, any tobacco products must be within the following allowances:
This document is available in the following formats
Please be aware that our PDF, Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents will open in a new window.