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What Is The Cigarette Allowance for UK Travel? 

By  Enda

As of 2021, the cigarette allowance for UK travellers has changed under the new "Brexit arrangements." This new agreement came into UK law on the 31st December 2020, and applies to travel into and out of the United Kingdom.

Before we dive into the detail of that, a general rule still applies which we have explained just below.

Age Restriction

There is NO duty free allowance if you are under the age of 17. Once you are over 18 then the duty free allowances do apply.

Tobacco Allowance - Brexit Agreement

The general purpose of this article is to explain the cigarette and tobacco allowance when travelling from the UK or flying into the UK.

The principle is that you can bring some goods from abroad without having to pay UK tax or ‘duty’, as long as they’re for your own use. This is commonly known as your ‘personal allowance’.

The amount of goods you can bring in without paying tax or duty on them depends on three main criteria:

  1. Where you are travelling from?
  2. If you are arriving into Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales)
  3. If you are arriving into Northern Ireland (although Northern Ireland is part of the UK, different rules apply)

Your Obligations

Most people will be familiar with having to declare goods at customs. What that means is that you have a legal obligation to tell customs about any goods before crossing a UK border check. Those goods are of 2 types:

  1. Where you exceed any allowances
  2. Any banned or restricted items ( controlled drugs, offensive weapons, pepper spray, meat and dairy imports etc)

In the situation where you exceed an allowance, you will have to pay tax and duty on all those goods. Please note that should you break any of the above rules you may be fined or prosecuted.

UK Duty

You pay different rates of Tobacco Duty on cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products.

  • Cigarettes - 16.5% of the retail price plus £4.90 on a packet of 20
  • Cigars - £3.05 on a 10g cigar
  • Hand rolling tobacco - £8.14 on a 30g packet
  • Other smoking or chewing tobacco £4.03 on a 30g packet

Cigarette Allowance Allowed When Arriving in Great Britain

If you are travelling to Great Britain (England, Scotland or Wales) from anywhere outside the UK you can bring a certain amount of goods without having to pay tax or duty. You must transport those by yourself, use them for yourself or give them away as a gift.

You cannot combine allowances with other people to bring in more than your individual allowance.

The cigarette allowance is as follows:

  • 200 cigarettes
  • 100 cigarillos
  • 50 cigars
  • 250g tobacco
  • 200 sticks of tobacco for electronic heated tobacco devices

You can split this allowance - so you could bring in 100 cigarettes and 25 cigars (both half of your allowance).

Travelling to the EU from Great Britain

If you are travelling to the EU from Great Britain (England, Scotland or Wales) they are now treated the same as anyone travelling to a non-EU country. This of course means changes for these travellers.

Up until 31 December 2020 anyone travelling to the EU could take unlimited amounts of duty and tax paid goods as long as they were for personal use. Minimum indicative levels (MILs) were used as a guide to establish whether the goods were actually for personal use.

As and from 1st January 2021, these MILs no longer apply. Passengers travelling from GB to the EU are subject to rules for non-EU passengers. These include rules on tobacco, alcohol and cash amounts.

EU Countries

Each EU country can decide on a maximum amount of tobacco and alcohol that you can bring into the country. There is a higher or lower limit depending on the EU country you are visiting. If an EU country applies the lower limits, it can either apply them only to land and sea travellers (Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia) or to all travellers (Estonia and Romania).

Higher Limit

  • 200 cigarettes or
  • 100 cigarillos or
  • 50 cigars or
  • 250g of tobacco

Lower Limit

  • 40 cigarettes or
  • 20 cigarillos or
  • 10 cigars or
  • 50g of tobacco

It is worth noting that these passengers are able to buy duty free excise goods once they have passed through security controls at airports, ports and international rail terminals. They can do this on the same basis as applied to passengers travelling to non-EU destinations. This means those travelling from GB don’t have to pay UK tax and excise duty on alcohol or tobacco they take with them when they leave. You should check the personal allowances of the country of destination before you travel.

Cigarette Allowance Allowed When Arriving in Northern Ireland from any EU Country

If you are travelling to Northern Ireland from any EU country you do not need to declare or pay tax or duty on any goods you bring into Northern Ireland from the EU as long as you:

  1. Transport them yourself
  2. Will use them yourself or give them away as a gift
  3. Have paid tax and duty in the country where you bought them
  • 800 cigarettes
  • 400 cigarillos
  • 200 cigars
  • 1 kg tobacco
  • 800 sticks of tobacco for electronic heated tobacco devices

You can split this allowance - so you could bring in 100 cigarettes and 25 cigars (both half of your allowance).

Cigarette Allowance Allowed When Arriving in Northern Ireland from Outside the EU

This includes the Canary Islands, the north of Cyprus, Gibraltar or the Channel Islands.

If you are travelling to Northern Ireland from anywhere outside the EU you can bring a certain amount of goods without having to pay tax or duty. You must transport those by yourself, use them for yourself or give them away as a gift.

You cannot combine allowances with other people to bring in more than your individual allowance.

The cigarette allowance is as follows:

  • 200 cigarettes
  • 100 cigarillos
  • 50 cigars
  • 250g tobacco
  • 200 sticks of tobacco for electronic heated tobacco devices

You can split this allowance - so you could bring in 100 cigarettes and 25 cigars (both half of your allowance).

Travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland

If you’re travelling from Great Britain (England, Wales or Scotland) to Northern Ireland, you do not need to declare your goods if all of the following apply:

  • You are a UK resident
  • The goods were bought in England, Scotland, Wales or the Isle of Man
  • You have already paid both VAT and excise duty (alcohol and tobacco only) on the goods

If you are travelling from Northern Ireland to Great Britain (England, Wales or Scotland) you do not have to declare any goods.

Bringing Cigarettes Back from the Canary Islands to the UK

The Canary Islands includes Tenerife, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, La Plama, La Gomera and El Hierro, You can only bring back 200 cigarettes or 250 grams of tobacco. Nothing has really changed.

You can split this allowance if you want to something like 100 cigarettes and 125 grams of tobacco.

Even though you can buy cigarettes there for very low prices like €15-20 for 200, you are only allowed to bring 200 home with you.

The Canary Islands, Gibraltar, the Channel Islands and the North of Cyprus are not part of the EU when it comes to customs, so the 200 cigarette allowance applies.

It is also worth noting that even if you buy duty free cigarettes on a flight home from the Canary Islands, the allowance is still 200 cigarettes etc.

How Many Cigarettes Can I Bring Back from Spain?

Spain is a very popular sunshine break holiday for many people. We are asked a lot how many cigarettes can you bring back from Spain.

The answer is that from Spain you can bring back:

200 cigarettes
100 cigarillos
50 cigars
250g tobacco
200 sticks of tobacco for electronic heated tobacco devices
You can split this allowance - so you could bring in 100 cigarettes and 25 cigars (both half of your allowance).

How Many Cigarettes Can I Bring Back from Gibraltar?

Gibraltar is a popular short break holiday for many UK people. We are asked a lot how many cigarettes can you bring back from Gibraltar.

The answer is that from Gibraltar you can bring back:

200 cigarettes
100 cigarillos
50 cigars
250g tobacco
200 sticks of tobacco for electronic heated tobacco devices
You can split this allowance - so you could bring in 100 cigarettes and 25 cigars (both half of your allowance).

How Many Cigarettes Can I Bring Back from Turkey?

Turkey is also is a very popular sunshine break holiday for many people. 

The answer is that from Turkey you can bring back:

200 cigarettes
100 cigarillos
50 cigars
250g tobacco
200 sticks of tobacco for electronic heated tobacco devices
You can split this allowance - so you could bring in 100 cigarettes and 25 cigars (both half of your allowance).

Cigarette Prices in Europe

You can't buy menthol cigarettes in Europe as the EU has not approved these.

How much are cigarettes in Italy 2022?

The average price for 20 cigarettes in Italy is €5.20. The prices do vary slightly depending on the brand that you buy and around €6.00 for Premium brands

A carton of 200 cigarettes costs €52. In the UK that would cost around £125.00.

Rolling tobacco costs around €6 for 30 grams

In Italy you can only buy cigarettes in a "Tabaccaio" and they are sold at a standard price right across Italy.

How much are cigarettes in Spain 2022?

The average price for 20 cigarettes in Spain is €5.15. The prices do vary slightly depending on the brand that you buy. Marlboro, B&H, Dunhill etc are all around €5.15. JPS, Lambert, Richmond etc are around €4.60

A carton of 200 cigarettes costs €51.50. In the UK that would cost around £125.00

Rolling tobacco costs around €5-9 for 30 grams

How much are cigarettes in Portugal 2022?

The average price for 20 cigarettes in Portugal that includes the Algarve and Faro is €5.30. The prices do vary slightly depending on the brand that you buy. Marlboro, B&H, Dunhill etc are all around €5.30.

A carton of 200 cigarettes costs €53.00. In the UK that would cost around £125.00

They can be bought in Tabacchis and also in some supermarkets and convenience stores.

How much are cigarettes in Turkey 2022?

The average price for 20 cigarettes in Tukey is 22 TL The prices do vary slightly depending on the brand.

A carton of 200 cigarettes costs 220 TL. In the UK that would cost around £125.00

Conclusion

Hopefully you are a little bit wiser about the various cigarette allowances for traveling to and from the UK. In summary, the allowance is

  • 200 cigarettes
  • 100 cigarillos
  • 50 cigars
  • 250g tobacco
  • 200 sticks of tobacco for electronic heated tobacco devices

You can split this allowance - so you could bring in 100 cigarettes and 25 cigars (both half of your allowance).

That includes the USA and Canada.

If arriving back in Northern Ireland we have explained above that a different allowance exists as Northern Ireland are still part of the single EU market.

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    1. Hi Susan, I am not exactly sure what you mean by duty paid. If you buy cigarettes in Spain you will pay duty or tax in Spain. If you bring back more than 200 to the UK, then you will also have to pay UK and custom’s duty on those.

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