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What are alcohol limits for France-UK travel? Per person or per car?

The amount of alcohol which you can bring into the UK depends on its type

There are now limits on the amount of alcohol which you can bring from the EU into the UK Pic: Try_my_best / Shutterstock

Reader question: we have had a difference of opinion with our friends over the limits on the amount of alcohol which can be brought from France into the UK. Two of us believe that the allowance is per car and two see it as per adult in the car. Which is correct?

Adults travelling from France to the UK are allowed to bring with them a ‘personal’ allowance of alcohol and tobacco products so the amount is per person and not a ‘bulk lot’ per car.

The amount of alcohol which you are allowed to carry with you depends on its type. You may bring up to: 

  • 42 litres of beer

  • 18 litres of (still) wine, the equivalent of 24 bottles

It is also permitted to bring in either:

  • Four litres of spirits or liquor containing over 22% alcohol

  • Nine litres of sparkling wine, fortified wine or other alcohol drinks up to 22% alcohol

This last allowance can be split, meaning that you could carry up to half of your allocation for each type of alcohol (4.5 litres of fortified wine and two litres of spirits for example).

These limits are per person and not per car, although it should be noted that no alcohol or tobacco allowance can be attributed to children under 17.

Read more: Are France-UK duty-free allowances per person if you are in a car?

The UK government website states that: “You cannot combine your personal allowance with anyone else.” An HM Revenue and Customs spokesperson previously told The Connexion that people have encountered problems when trying to bring, for example, an odd number of cases or boxes into the country on the pretext of having merged their allocation.

This is because boxes will not be divided in half by customs. So, for example, if two people have nine boxes between them, one would be classed as carrying four and the other five, and if this meant that the second person had exceeded permitted limits no allowance would be made for the fact that the other person was below their allocation.

It is therefore obviously a good idea to split up the goods so that each person has their own portion of boxes, cases or bottles.

If you go over your permitted allowance you must declare all of the goods that you have with you before you travel and pay any necessary taxes and duties. 

Further information on the goods that can be brought into the UK from abroad can be found on the government website.

Similar rules apply when travelling from the UK to France, although the limits for alcohol are different.

You cannot bring in more than 16 litres of beer, four of still wine, one litre of other alcohol at more than 22% alcohol or two litres of other alcohol lower than 22%.

Before Brexit there had been no official limit to bringing wine and other items into the UK from another EU state, as long as it was for private consumption.

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