Duty totals riseImproved tax free limits for travellers

28 February 2006

The value of goods that you can bring into the country from outside the EU without having to pay duty may rise, thanks to a new proposal.

As from January next year it's likely that air travellers will not need to declare goods below the value of GBP 415 (600 euros). This is up from GBP 145, a rate that has been in operation for the last 37 years.

Unfortunately for ferry and land travellers there's only likely to be a small rise in the cash limit to GBP 165 (220 euros).

However it could mean that air passengers bringing back cheaper goods, such as iPods, digital cameras or games consoles, from the US or the Far East won't have to pay extra duty on their purchases.

Falls well short

Among the other changes proposed by the European Commission are the abolition of the previous import limits on coffee, perfume and tea. These will now simply be counted as part of the new monetary limit. But there could be a limit on the amount of beer you can bring in - one of the few alcoholic beverages that didn't have a quantitive limit previously.

Which? EU adviser, Stephen Crampton, said: 'We welcome the Commission's proposal, but it falls well short of the limit we wanted. It's also disappointing to see that there is as yet no mention of a change to the internet import limit.'

In a letter to the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, just over a year ago, Which? called for the limit to be raised and also brought up the issue of the Internet import limit which currently stands at GBP 18.

A Treasury spokesman told us: 'This is a good starting point, but we are hoping to negotiate the limit up to GBP 1,000 for air travellers.'