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Information about Customs and Excise limits and tips for day trippers and visitors to Calais, France, buying wine, beer, spirits and tobacco – Day-tripper.net.

HM Customs Excise

HM Revenue and Customs

New! United Kingdom Border Agency – targeting United Kingdom citizens who shop cross borders?

British experiences with UKBA / HMRC

Motto – "Disgracing Britain?"

"Serving the Treasury, not the Public?"

Which country in the EU stops its citizens and questions them when they leave their country of domicile? Continued

Customs priorities (from their advertising)

If you have any information concerning illegally imported cigarettes, tobacco, VAT fraud or the importation of drugs and paedophile material freephone 24 hours a day with complete confidence and security"

The order Day-tripper.net thinks it should be in;

If you have any information concerning the importation of drugs and paedophile material, VAT fraud, illegally imported cigarettes or tobacco, freephone 24 hours a day with complete confidence and security"

January 2012 – Now we know why! I wonder how many times this imbecile has stopped me, or seized the cars of poor shoppers? www.thisiskent.co.uk/UKBA-officer-jailed-addicted-collecting-child/story-14380400-detail/story.html

(Note; there is no Excise Duty or VAT on illegal drugs or child pornography)

The silly things they say. After visiting his notaire a returning shopper was told "you spent 8 hours in France after visiting your Notaire and didn't return immediately?" Unbelievable but true. They seem to think we mustn't shop or make good use of a day across the channel. More

November 2009 (27th) – Welcome to Algirdas Semeta the new Commissioner responsible for Customs matters. We will be lobbying him hard on your behalf. We will be contacting him shortly. What would you like us to tell him? Let us know.

This is why (e-mail received as I wrote about the new Commissioner).

"Came back from a 2 day business trip last week along with my wife and was stopped by customs and had all our wine and baccy taken from us and most importantly they seized my car, which was worth quite a bit. We only had the guide lines for both and not a boot full!. Because i had been before and bought before then we are criminals and apparently are selling the goods, i have an import and export company and that was why we were in France and Belgium, but that made no difference. We were held in separate rooms for nearly two hours and asked a million questions, mainly on how many ciggs we smoked. It made no difference,they were having our goods and that was it. Another couple also had there goods and car seized at the same time. This practice is just disgusting,they are like others have wrote before a law upon themselves, so smug and you can tell that they are laughing at our expense. I could write a lot more about what happened, but people beware – we only had a carrier bag of baccy and lost the car for that. I went on a legitimate business trip and need to go again next week, but i have no car now! Keep up the campaign to stop this happening to genuine shoppers and travellers."

2008 – European Parliament cuts guidelines? No they did not!

Interesting to read – The government's "Tackling Tobacco smuggling together" strategy (PDF).

Let them know!

If you have been stopped by British Revenue and Customs please e-mail the Commissioner, Algirdas Semeta (), with copies to his Head of Cabinet (laurs.norlund at cec.eu.int) and the Director General for Taxation (robert.verrue at cec.eu.int), as well as your local MEP.

Gone to Court to get your goods back? – tell us how you got on.

European Court judgement concerning internet purchases of wine and tobacco (23rd November 2007)

The sort of e-mails we get about HM C and E

Our advice is simple – stick to the guidelines.

day-tripper.net is a web magazine devoted to the interests and rights of British Citizens shopping in other E.U. Member states. We deplore the actions of HM Revenue and Customs and the New Labour Governments campaign of intimidation, which goes against the very Treaties we have signed, guaranteeing free trade and movement of goods and people between member states.

Warning

If you have travelled recently please bear in mind if shopping, that should HMRC stop you and find tobacco on you, they may assume that you bought tobacco on all your previous journeys. NO EVIDENCE NEEDED!

Illiterate nonsense from C and E advice centre (. . . I can confirm there is no reason for you to purchase goods on the continent and bring back to the United Kingdom

The lengths United Kingdom Citizens go to prove they are not smugglers (or, how the United Kingdoms position is a nonsense).

Do you feel the Customs and Excise are law enforcers or law makers? Let us know how you feel about being grilled when you return to your home country from abroad.

The information contained within this web site is intended to act as a general guide only, and does not form any offer or legal contract, whether actual or implied.

Customs and VAT matters are complex, and you should seek practical advice and assistance from a professional source rather than rely on the contents of this web site.

Tobacco (March 2015) – Save £950.20 in Belgium and stay within the limits! SAVE up to 66.39%

(January 2014 – Save £482 in France, £835 in Belgium, £875 in Luxembourg and stay within the limits! SAVE from 55% up to 184%!)

Can we help? Write to us at; ACCESS, c/o 21 Hydethorpe Avenue, London. N9 9RS.

HMRC if in doubt

Customs and Excise web information. www.hmrc.gov.uk

HMRC calais

Customs and Excise web information. www.hmrc.gov.uk

EU Commission advice – ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/common/travellers

What to do if you have had a seizure (HMRC advice). www.hmrc.gov.uk

Other Government agencies

Statutory Instrument 2002 No. 2692 – Changes to the law following the Hoverspeed judgement. The Excise Goods, Beer and Tobacco Products (Amendment) Regulations 2002.

Customs – the low down from the E.U. europa.eu.int/comm/taxation_customs

Why tobacco and alcohol are cheaper in Luxembourg, Belgium and France – European Excise rates 2012

Tobacco Excise duties (look at the "Cigarettes Excise Yield" chart)

Alcohol Excise Duties (look at the Still and Sparkling Wine charts)

More – we have listed all the links you may find of use here

2008 – European Parliament cuts guidelines?

The E.U. Parliament can recommend to the Commission what it would like to see. The recent headlines about the guidelines being cut were another misinterpretation of what actually happened. The Parliament did confusingly vote to reduce the guidelines against the wishes of the Commission. Just three years ago the very same MEP's voted to abolish them altogether! The Commission have in fact kept them the same, so no change basically.

From the Commission itself (2008)

"To explain a bit more how this works, the "justification" is written by the individual MEP in the committee who originally put forward the amendment – in this case an MEP put forward a number of amendments and used the same comments as a justification for all of them, but only some of them were taken up by the committee. The "justification" itself is not put to the vote and does not represent anything more than the opinion of the original author of the amendment at committee stage. These justifications have no legal impact, they systematically lapse when the vote is taken in plenary and are not part of the position adopted by Parliament as a whole.

So while at least one MEP might have wished that compulsory limits be adopted, no amendment have this effect was adopted, and this is not the Parliament's position. The text voted by Parliament specifies "Member States may lay down guide levels, solely as a form of evidence."

For the avoidance of doubt, Parliament's position is only consultative. As usual with taxation policy, the final decision is for the Council, and any change to the existing rules (whether in the direction proposed by Parliament or in another direction) requires the unanimous agreement of all 27 Member States."

Comment from Syed Kamall (PPE-DE) an MEP for the South East of England. "What do the customs and excise duty officers do in the United Kingdom? They pick on them, they ask intrusive questions, they haul them outside their vehicles, including pensioners, and they question them intrusively trying to find out exactly how much alcohol they drink and how many cigarettes they smoke in some sort of Gestapo-type inquisition. This is not the sort of behaviour we expect from law enforcement officers or excise officers in the United Kingdom or across Europe. Voting on the report today in the way we did, we have gone backwards – not only backwards before 1992 but to a period previously where there was no free movement, or very limited free movement, of goods."

Comment from Astrid Lulling (PPE-DE) Luxembourg MEP. "Mr. President, I asked Parliament to vote against the report since only a small minority voted for guide levels lower than those currently applied. I should like to point out that the Commission is not in favour of guide levels. In 2005, this House voted in favour of the Rosati report to abolish guide levels, and now we are taking a step backwards and reducing what we voted for. Most Members do not know what they voted for."

The legislative process in the E.U. www.europarl.europa.eu

HM Revenue and Customs

As our message board shows, the limits set by Customs and Excise have aroused much controversy. Whilst we do not condone bootlegging of tobacco, the "limits" as set by the Government for tobacco were hideously low, no-where near comparable to that available for wine drinkers. For example the wine or champagne limit is 90 litres (120 bottles). Even if you drink per person one bottle a day (generous) your "limit" will last 120 days. Under the old guidelines, if you smoked 20 cigarettes a day on the other hand (conservative) your "limit" lasted just 40 days. Thankfully after much public interest (including our own campaign on behalf of shoppers) these guidelines have now been raised substantially. However, if you are from the North of England you may only make the journey once or twice a year – why should people in the South have a much greater opportunity to buy cheap wine and tobacco?

The guidelines for cigarette smokers (with effect from 29th October 2002) were raised to 3,200 (about 5 1/4 months supply). The Pouch Tobacco (HRT) guideline is now 3 kilograms which (if you use 1/2 pack a day) means 4 months supply. Better news for champagne drinkers in that the old 60 litre guideline now abolished and you can if you wish, buy 90 litres.

Links to their web sites – it seems that their own web site, the usual source of information about appeals and where to telephone, no longer works. Perhaps this is why they can claim only 4% of people who have had their cars confiscated appeal. The main reason of course is that people are too poor to do anything, and downright scared. Latest – anyone appealing now faces costs of £750 at Magistrates Court.

BEEN A VICTIM? – WHAT TO DO

You can no longer roll over your champagne allowances to buy more wine for example, as you could do under the Duty Free system.

HM Revenue and Customs

Advice line. Tel: 08450 109 000 then press 3. Open: Monday to Friday, 8.00am to 8.00pm.

Dover OfficeCustoms and Excise; Complaints against HM Revenue and Customs (How to go about it – visit our PROTEST page).

Complaints against HM Revenue and Customs involving officers or decisions made at Dover, Coquelles, Folkestone or Ramsgate should address their complaints to;

HM Revenue and Customs, Priory Court, St. Johns Rd., Dover, Kent CT17 9SH. Tel: 01304 206 78.

For Portsmouth; HM Revenue and Customs, Custom House, 3rd Floor, Orchard Place, Southampton. SO14 3NS. Tel: 023 8082 7593.

Appeals against Excise, Customs, Landfill Tax and Air Passenger Duty decisions made by South East England Customs should be made to:

Review Officer, HM Revenue and Customs, Priory Court, St. Johns Rd., Dover, Kent. CT17 9SH.

Tel: 01304 224 302 / 01304 224 311.

Adjudicator – if you are still unhappy you can contact the Adjudicator who may look at the matter on your behalf. Whilst they are a pleasant bunch, their powers are very limited – more window dressing really. Tel: 020 7930 2292.

Executive Chairman of HM Revenue and Customs; Richard Broadbent. We suggest you write to him as well.

Calais Douanes (Customs). Tel: 0033 321 34 75 40. Information 0033 320 12 80 93. www.douane.gouv.fr

HM Customs and Excise Museum. www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/maritime Merseyside Maritime Museum, Albert Dock, Liverpool L3 4AQ.

Tel: 0151-478 4499.

By car: Albert Dock is signposted from the M62. There is pay parking at Albert Dock and Mann Island.

The Customs and Excise Museum is open daily from 10am to 5pm and entry is free.

Other Government agencies

HM Coastguard. www.mcga.gov.uk

HM Revenue and Customs. www.hmrc.gov.uk

HM Immigration. www.homeoffice.gov.uk

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. www.defra.gov.uk

Time for an enquiry

Day-tripper.net has called for a full European Parliamentary Enquiry into this whole messy affair.

We continually press our case for this within the Commission.

The British experience has (because we have the most excessive taxation) highlighted weaknesses within the EU, and ones which will (and are) occurring elsewhere.

Furthermore they will continue with the accession of Poland and other countries to the EU, especially against a background of ever increasing taxes in Germany.

We believe the enquiry should start off by looking at the Maastricht Treaty, which was suppose to be about member states working towards ever closer financial union.

This is why Duty free was abolished – it was to become irrelevant. Moreover its abolition was supposed to speed this happening. The opposite has happened, as the United Kingdom has increased its tobacco and alcohol taxes faster than other member states.

It should then examine the British Experience, with special reference as to how a Government found it so easy to put aside its citizens freedom to travel freely and without fear, in the interests of revenue collection.

We believe the European Union is not just about the freedom of movement for goods and people for business only, but for the people as well.

There is nothing better at reducing excessive profiteering or taxation and prices, than the ability of the people to shop where it is cheapest.

How to avoid being trapped by Customs and Excise – more

Don't Smuggle! – tempting though it may be to bring back more than your allowance to sell and make a bit a of money, you are breaking the law. The purpose of "buy as much as you like as long as it is for personal consumption" means just what it says.

Which Country in the EU?

– stops its citizens and questions them when they leave their country of domicile?

– stops them on the way home and questions them when they have travelled freely as foreigners in other E.U. member states?

– thinks it odd people go to a restaurant, go shopping or for a walk after crossing for a business appointment and not return immediately to the United Kingdom?

– stops its citizens "on the grounds of security" on the way out, yet asks no questions relating to security matters? (Webbies personal experience)

– assumes that a traveller is guilty of smuggling just because they are on a coach which has been stopped before, with smugglers on board, even where there is no evidence to support such an assumption?

– tells its citizens who have travelled and been found with tobacco "that we do not want to see you again for x many months?" (from e-mails received from shoppers complaining about their treatment).

– suggests it is fighting smugglers, yet concentrates most of its resources "frustrating" shoppers and travellers? More

– monitors its citizens movements into and out of its territory? (coach companies are now required to pass on details of their passengers to the cross channel companies).

– suggests there are guidelines, yet routinely says to coach passengers "right, anyone over the guidelines is having their goods confiscated?" (from e-mails received from shoppers complaining about their treatment).

– spends most of its resources stopping shoppers than finding drugs?

– routinely describes anyone who complains as "not credible"? More

– expects companies to "police" their own customers, and seizes the coaches of companies who have not turned away any repeat travellers?

– regards it as acceptable that many of its citizens are too scared to take their own cars abroad?

– automatically confiscates from people on benefit "because they cannot afford to travel"?

– Has a Customs and Excise which admits that "to be effective we have to work right at the limit of what is achievable"? More

Sounds like East Germany or Soviet Russia doesn't it? – Answer

Diary

July 16th – Oh dear. Mr. Newbury who won a recent High Court Case against Customs was stopped and threatened with the confiscation of his car yesterday. Seems it is true that anyone who has suffered a seizure before, whether or not they win in Court or at Tribunal are permanently targeted.

Good news! The law has been clarified further thanks to a High Court decision. Of course HMRC with unlimited taxpayers money to spend will probably appeal this in an attempt to open up the Courts ruling, and allow them more scope to "interpret" the law (this happened with the Hoverspeed case).

Basically, seizing a car over such a minor infringment of the rules – in this case 1.5 kgs rolling tobacco and 600 cigarettes bought by a Mother with money provided by her son, is no longer allowed as it is "disproportionate". It is worth pointing out that has she paid for it herself she could have said she had bought it as a gift. It is important to make it clear to UKBA/ HMRC that you will get nothing back in return – even saying your brother / friend may cut your lawn as thankyou is enough to justify a seizure. www.dailymail.co.uk

June 2nd – Sadly it seems that Customs are rediscovering old and bad ways. Coaches are now being targeted with anyone on board a coach who they suspect of "aiding" smugglers losing their goods, regardless of their explanations. We are keeping the issue alive in Europe and welcome comments from British shoppers.

April 10th 2003 – once again your web master, who does not smoke or buy tobacco, was stopped at Coquelles, France, presumably because he travels frequently. With a business in Prague selling British products, I drive a Czech car and travel frequently between the United Kingdom, France and the Czech Republic. Today for example I visited shops and supermarkets in the course of research to maintain this site. I also held discussions with two wine buyers with regard to selling wine in Prague. No doubt Customs view people like me, who represent their countries abroad, as highly dubious characters. Perhaps they would like to think about this, and understand my anger at not only being stopped frequently, but having to deal with their often extremely ignorant remarks ("you sell wine and chemicals – funny combination that").

March 2003 – Customs are now suggesting to victims that they will not consider a review unless Tribunal appeals are withdrawn. We are following this up. Whatever they may feel about shoppers and travellers the right to appeal is a basic Human Right. It considerably saddens us at Day-tripper.net, that despite repeated Court losses and bad publicity HM C and E are continuing with their negative behaviour. The fight for a fair and civil Customs goes on.

January 2003 – Cars are being offered back to victims BEFORE Tribunal hearings, but no compensation. The fight goes on.

October 2002 – New limits for cigarettes (3,200) and HRT (3 kgs) introduced with immediate effect! The same old system however stays in place. The fight goes on.

September 2002 – Their scandalous behaviour continues. HM C and E are now even changing Courts Summons. Don't agree – fight your cases on the laws that were applied to you at the time.

August 2002 – Confusion reigns – HM C and E are now stopping people at Dover ON THE WAY OUT and asking where they are going and how much money they have. DISGRACEFUL! On the Press Release front they are issuing more "Large amounts of tobacco seized" type releases. The propaganda war of intimidation continues.

July 2002 – GOOD NEWS – Hoverspeed, who bravely took the Government to Court have WON their case. More

February 2001 – a very intensive Customs and Excise effort is going on at the moment – the penalties are severe (confiscation of your car). Don't assume you will be treated like a criminal and get your fare home – you won't.

Our view

If the Government is happy to accept foreign investment here because our social taxes are lower, why can't British citizens benefit from the lower prices in other European countries where social taxes are higher, but spending taxes and duties so much lower?

Yet another case of Britain being in Europe for what we can get out of it, rather than for what we can contribute and share.

No wonder we are all so offended by HM Customs and Excise!

From a Parliamentary question and Answer session with the Treasury Minister, Mr. Healey.

Mrs. Lawrence: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what seizures have been made by the Pembroke local Customs team (a) in and (b) outside their own area in the past two years. %5B118531%5D

John Healey: The Pembroke Customs team have made one significant seizure, of 1. 2 million cigarettes, in Pembroke in the past two years. This seizure was a result of a specific operation, based on intelligence gathered from outside Wales. In addition, the team made a small number of minor seizures of cigarettes, hand rolled tobacco, spirits and beer, in Pembroke and Fishguard.

Elsewhere, over the last two years, the Pembroke Customs team seized 481,290 cigarettes at Cardiff International Airport, and made a small number of minor seizures of cigarettes and hand rolled tobacco elsewhere.

The Pembroke Customs team made no significant drug seizures over the past two years.

Treasury Sub Committee on Wednesday 4 June 2003

On drugs seizures;

Q12 Mr. Beard: Just on the report whilst we are there, the report at Appendix 2, page 24, shows that you were much less successful this year, in the year 2002 to 2003, in seizing Class A drugs. You seized 6,900 kilos compared with just over 9,000 kilos last year. This is not explained or elaborated anywhere, so what is the reason? WEBBIE – THIS IS A 23% REDUCTION.

On tobacco seizures;

Q21 Mr. Beard: The obvious question is, if you can recoup £2 billion as readily as this implies, why has it taken so long to do it?

Mr. Broadbent: I am not sure that it is readily. It has taken us nearly two years' work to get to this stage. It has also taken a very fundamental reorientation of the organisation to get us to think in this way. However, it can be done. If you take, for example, the tobacco strategy, which is the first of the strategy put in place two years ago now, that has yielded an additional £1. 5 billion of revenue at fixed duty rates.

BUT GOOD NEWS! – More MONEY has been raised from tobacco;

Q78 Mr. Ruffley: Minister, the reduction in the volume of cigarettes successfully smuggled into the United Kingdom in 2001/2 was cut by a billion which the annual report states is a drop of around five per cent, the first time this has happened for a decade. Why this amazing success? How has it been done?

John Healey: It has been done by an investment of over £200 million. It has been done by many more staff working on the tobacco strategy. It has been done also by the introduction of new x-ray and scanning equipment at some of the major freight ports, which is where the vast bulk of smuggled tobacco and cigarettes come into this country.

Working up to the limit – Mr. Broadbent before a Parliamentary Committee

59. That is five inquiries (about Customs) in three and a half years. Why?

(Mr. Broadbent) Because I think we are dealing with some of the most complex and difficult issues right at the margins of the criminal justice system.

"To be effective we have to work right at the limit of what is achievable."

When the rot started – 1999.

There has been a decline in the number of people employed by the Department to deal with drug smuggling. The Department now have around 500 fewer staff (10 per cent) to combat drug smuggling than in 1989-90. The evidence of street prices falling by between 80 and 35 per cent, relative to the costs of alcohol and tobacco, suggests that the supply of drugs is continuing to increase to meet the growth in demand. The Department did not convince the Committee that their reduced level of resources was a sufficiently considered response to the threat. Committee of Public Accounts 10 May 1999.

Not Credible?

Much useful information is passed on confidentially to Day-tripper.net by people intimately involved in this issue, and who feel very uneasy about it all. We are for example reliably informed that people who complain to the E.U. Commission are dismissed as "not credible" by HM Revenue and Customs.

Duty, VAT and Allowances

Allowances – no actual limit (so they say – but just try exceeding the "limits") but if you have more than the guidelines below, Customs will require you to prove the items are for your personal use.

How they prove you are a smuggler; We had hoped that the new procedures meant they would have to provide real evidence. However after speaking to their advice line it is clear nothing has changed. For example, before 29th October 2002, you had to prove you were not a smuggler. Now the Customs Officer must do so. BUT, the criteria are exactly the same. For example how often you travel is taken into account. They will still assume if stopped that you must have had the same quantity of goods on other journeys. This is not "evidence" that would stand up in a Criminal Court. But it counts in deciding if you are a smuggler according to the Customs interpretation of the word. They were unable to say if you would automatically be subject to a seizure in future if you had already had a notice one. Is the position now clearer? No, of course not. Before you had to satisfy them the goods were for your own use, now the Customs Officer has to be satisfied (through questioning) they are. Confused? We are.

The penalties are not clear either. It's up to the individual Customs Officer to decided what it should be. Too much power in the hands of one individual? We think so.

The penalties to keep your car do not involve keeping the goods "as it is a fine". You still do not have the option to offer to pay the duty either. They were unable to tell me if you could pay the fine there or whether you had to go through an appeals process.

Sadly the procedures remain Civil not Criminal – it is still possible to assume guilt on the basis of probability (because you travel frequently for example) and seize, rather than provide real evidence (such as – he was stopped three times with goods). It is irrelevant whether you had goods or not – all it still takes is the Officer to decide you did.

Nothing is very clear at the moment – even the advisor said it was not black and white. If they don't know, how can a member of the public?

HM Revenue and Customs guidelines suggest the following quantities;

Alcohol; Wine OR Champagne – 90 litres (120 bottles), Spirits – 10 litres, Fortified wines (such as port or sherry) – 20 litres, Beer – 110 litres (just over 10 cases /200 pints).

Tobacco; Cigarettes – 3,200 (800), Cigarillos – 400, Cigars – 200, Smoking tobacco – 3 kg (1 kg). NEW – 1st October 2011 guidelines in Brackets.

Anyone telling you to ignore these guidelines is described by Customs as very irresponsible and likely to get you into serious trouble (after they've taken your money that is). Anyone whom Customs and Excise deems is smuggling faces severe penalties, usually involving the confiscation of your vehicle.

Excise Duty in the United Kingdom and the EU

Considerable sums of money are raised from excise duties and other taxes on alcohol and tobacco. For example the French raise 103 million euro from wine taxes, in the United Kingdom we raise 2,983 million – over 29 times more than France. Even on beer we raise over 15 times more. On unleaded petrol we raise 2. 5 times as much. On tobacco we raise more than three times as much revenue. Compared with Belgium it's even worse, they raise just 1/10th the amount we do (United Kingdom 9.8 times more).

From the Imperial Tobacco Company April 2002 – Cost of 20 cigarettes;

United Kingdom £4-40 total taxation £3-51, Rep. of Ireland £3-20 total taxation £2-49, France £2-22 total taxation £1-69, Belgium £1-98 total taxation £1-45, Luxembourg £1-61 total taxation £1-07, Greece £1-54 total taxation £1-12, Spain £1-54 total taxation £1-09.

Customs and Excise web information; www.hmrc.gov.uk

Why tobacco and alcohol are cheaper in Luxembourg, Belgium and France – European Excise rates 2012

Tobacco Excise duties (look at the "Cigarettes Excise Yield" chart)

Alcohol Excise Duties (look at the Still and Sparkling Wine charts)

Trying to prove you are not a smuggler

The lengths United Kingdom Citizens go to prove they are not smugglers (or, how the C and E's position is a nonsense)

Subject: duty paid goods

Please can you advise me, I want to bring back 120 50gram packets of tobacco for my own personal use. Due to suffering severe motion sickness (sea sickness) and claustrophobia (channel tunnel). I will only travel once a year on a very calm day. Please can you tell me if this is legally acceptable.

The reply from C and E

Dear Mr. C.

Thank you for your e-mail enquiry of 14 July 2002.

There are no longer any limits on how much tobacco you can bring back to the United Kingdom when travelling to other E.U. countries, as long as it is for your own use.

However we have drawn up guidelines as an indicator that goods could possibly be for commercial use rather than personal use, and for tobacco products these are as follows: 800 cigarettes, 400 cigarillos,200 cigars,1 kg of smoking tobacco.

If you bring back more than these quantities and you are challenged by one of our officers, then it is up to you to satisfy the officer at the time that the goods are for your own use. I can't really advise how to do this but, perhaps you have medical records that attest to the fact that you suffer from severe motion sickness and claustrophobia that would support your case should the need arise.

I must also point out that if you cannot satisfy Customs then your tobacco may be seized.

If you need further help, please do not hesitate to contact me by e-mail or our National Advice Service on 0845 010 9000.

You may also like to visit our web sight at Hmrc.gov.uk where you can find a wealth of information for travellers.

Yours sincerely

M E A. (Mrs)

Officer of H M Customs and Excise.

Mr. C.'s response

Thank you very much for your very prompt reply, surely 1) the fact that I will only be travelling once a year will suffice that they are for my personal use.

Also would it help if I informed the customs officers before I travelled of what I would be bringing back so to show I was not trying to sneak in with large amounts of tobacco?

C and E Respond again

Dear Mr. C.

I'm sorry that I can offer you no advice on how to convince a Customs Officer that approximately 6kgs of tobacco are for your own use.

However, if you wish to write to Customs at the port prior to your journey, this would show that you are not trying to smuggle the tobacco through. You should send your correspondence to: Anti-Smuggling Tourist District, No. 1 Control Building, Eastern Docks, Dover. Kent. CT16 1HZ.

If possible you should give dates and times of travelling and indicate either tunnel or ferry crossing, you should also give your vehicle registration number if you intend travelling by car.

Finally, if you keep copies of these e-mails with you when you travel, it will demonstrate to my colleagues at the port that you have made reasonable attempts to address this potential problem before you made the journey.

I know that non of the above is fool proof but it is the best advice I can offer you.

Yours sincerely

Mrs. M E A.

Buying tobacco over the internet

We often get asked where people can go to buy tobacco over the internet. Whilst there are a number of sites, messages on our message board and e-mails received indicate that there can be problems with this way of getting cheaper tobacco. We hear for example that C and E will charge a hefty "re packaging" charge, making the final price considerably more than the United Kingdom price, just to get the message across that they don't like you buying tobacco outside of the United Kingdom.

This is from the C and E web site

"Alcohol and tobacco products from within the EU cannot be sent to the United Kingdom unless arrangements have been made to pay United Kingdom excise duty in advance."

The sort of e-mails we get about HM Customs and Excise

18th June 2003

Dear Mr. Ash,

Good to see you are still carrying the Campaign to allow British Shoppers to travel and indeed shop in Europe. Following the seizure of our car and goods by C and E, in June 2001, we travel outside the United Kingdom, infrequently and with fear. Last November we travelled by ferry from Hull to Rotterdam, our destination being Amsterdam. At that time of the year, It would have been marvellous to take our car and purchase some wine. However, our experiences with C and E, have meant we can no longer enjoy this privilege. We travelled on foot and caught a bus to enjoy this beautiful City. On our return, we didn't even purchase any HRT – too afraid to suffer the humiliation of the abusive interrogation if stopped by C and E. Please continue to make people aware of the reality of the restrictions placed on United Kingdom Citizens.

Illiterate nonsense from Customs and Excise

This is body of a letter sent to a shopper enquiring about VAT due on something bought abroad.

Dear Mr. X

Re: electrical goods

Thank you for your e-mail dated 7 May 2003 regarding the purchase of a plasma screen TV on the continent or in Dixon's at the Chunnel hub and bring them back to the United Kingdom for your personal use.

I can confirm there is no reason for you to purchase goods on the continent and bring back to the United Kingdom here won't be any duty to pay and also you won't have any input VAT to pay as you would have already paid any VAT in the member state you purchased the goods from. I would advise you to keep with you on your return to the United Kingdom The receipt for the goods, as you may need to show it at customs control as proof of VAT already paid.

I hope the above information is to your satisfaction and please do not hesitate to contact the National Advice Service should you require further guidance.

The Right to Silence. www.abd.org.uk/righttosilence

August 2009 – more bad news concerning our Government's criminalising United Kingdom of citizens. www.abd.org.uk/pr/677.htm

Some believe that constitutions exist to protect the State against the people but their proper purpose is to protect the people from the potential tyranny of the State. It was for this reason that Magna Carta was signed by King John in 1215, not to give us rights, but to recognise that they are inherent and may not be removed.

Winston Churchill wrote in 1956 in "A History of the English Speaking Peoples" – "The facts embodied in Magna Carta and the circumstances giving rise to them were buried or misunderstood. The underlying idea of the sovereignty of the law, long existent in feudal custom, was raised by it into a doctrine for the national State. And when in subsequent ages the State, swollen with its own authority, has attempted to ride roughshod over the rights or liberties of the subject it is to this doctrine that appeal has again and again been made, and never as yet, without success. "

We are appealing in the same way to retain our right to silence.

Imagine a State which tells suspects, "Because we do not have evidence to convict you beyond reasonable doubt, we insist that you confess. If you refuse we will impose penalties similar to those applicable to the original offence". Is that not intolerable in a supposedly free country? Has that not been considered intolerable for centuries, not just here (where the police caution starts, " You are not obliged to say anything …") but in many other countries including America, where such duress is explicitly prohibited by the Fifth Amendment of their constitution?

Is that not intolerable in a supposedly free country? Has that not been considered intolerable for centuries, not just here (where the police caution starts, "You do not have to say anything?") but in many other countries including America, where such duress is explicitly prohibited by the Fifth Amendment of their constitution? The right to silence is one claim of the 1689 Bill of Rights and is inherent under Article 6 of the European Convention of 1951 to which Britain has been a signatory since 1953. It is also inherently part of the corresponding part of the 1998 Human Rights Act by which that convention was incorporated into British law. It is important to remember that the Convention expressly states that Article 6 may be restricted only in times of war or grave threats to national life. In our view the Privy Council decision that the right to silence should be balanced against the rights of other road users was wrong in law.

Yet the Section 172 of the 1988 Road Traffic Act exerts precisely that duress. Any State which claims these draconian powers is already part way towards the tyranny that Churchill described, and if unchecked is likely –indeed certain –to apply the same duress to other issues. Why, after all, should motorists be denied their rights (in defiance not just of Magna Carta, but also of our 1688 Declaration and 1689 Bill of Rights, the 1951 European Convention of Human Rights, the 1998 Human Rights Act and 800 years of common law) but not murderers, rapists or arsonists? On reason is of course that motorists represent a large, lucrative and easy target –but no one else is safe if this breach of our rights goes unchallenged.

An old legal maxim is that "hard cases make bad law"- that general law based on specific problems is usually counterproductive. There will always be superficially plausible reason for removing fundamental rights from football fans, drug dealers or terrorists, but the consequences will prove to be adverse for our freedom and democracy.

Although we do not know where this progressive denial of our rights might end, we certainly know where it is heading. The draconian Terrorism Bill currently before Parliament will lead to extradition without habeas corpus or intervention by British courts, without even prima facie evidence and even for 'offences' which are not illegal in Britain, to face indefinite detention even without trial in other countries. But what has this to do with you, you wonder? Being unlikely to become a drug dealer of football hooligan, why should you worry about our rights being removed? This is why:

". . . Then they came for the Jews and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists but I didn't speak up because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics and I didn't speak up because I am a Protestant.

Then they came for me but by that time no one was left to speak up."

Rev. M Niemoller (1892-1984) Dachau 1945

Today the motorist is the easy target. Tomorrow –who knows?

Tobacco Restrictions for the New Member States

The normal guidelines now apply to most EU Member States.

From January 2010

EU enlargement – tobacco restrictions for the new Member States

On 1 May 2004, ten countries – Bulgaria Cyprus*, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Malta, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia joined the European Union (EU). On 1 January 2007 Bulgaria and Romania also joined.

*Though the whole of Cyprus is part of the EU, goods from any areas of Cyprus not under effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus are treated as non-EU imports. From these dates travellers from these countries do not pay any United Kingdom tax or duty on excise goods they have bought tax and duty paid in these countries for own use. But there are special rules for cigarettes and some other tobacco products from some of these EU countries.

Tobacco restrictions for five Member States The United Kingdom is maintaining limits on the amount of cigarettes and some tobacco products that travellers are able to bring in to the United Kingdom for own use from five Member States, without paying United Kingdom duty.

Anyone who is carrying more than the limits should pay United Kingdom duty on those goods by entering the Customs red channel or by using the red point telephone. If travellers enter the Customs blue channel with more than the limits, then all of their tobacco may be seized.

Anyone who is carrying more than the limits should pay United Kingdom duty on those goods by entering the Customs red channel or by using the red point telephone. If travellers enter the Customs blue channel with more than the limits, then all of their tobacco may be seized.

Whose to blame for the mess we are in?

Interestingly, a recent poll on this site came up with the result that 90% of you blame the ex Chancellor Mr. Brown and not Customs and Excise.

Run your car on Cooking Oil!

veggie van – Veggievan. www.veggievan.org

Answer to question – the United Kingdom

Useful Outside links

– Check out the latest catalogue / leaflet offers (PDF). www.bonial.fr

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