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Buy Brandy Online UK: Customs Charge

3 Things You Should Know About How To Avoid Duty When Buying Spirits From Abroad To UK


In tastebrandy.com we deal with international parcels delivered worldwide every day. A significant portion of our parcels is delivered to the customers in the UK. UK has the third highest excise duty rate in the EU (right after Sweden and Ireland) and our UK customers understand that if they buy their favourite fruit brandy on tastebrandy and receive it uncharged, they had a very good bargain.


Very often, the price of the whole brandy is smaller than the UK  excise duty itself. We assist our buyers every day advising them how to avoid UK customs duty. This text is part of our „manual“.



2-3 bottles are usually not charged by HMRC.

Although each drop of alcoholic spirit should be charged if the parcel arrives from a non-EU country, HMRC has the instruction not to charge parcels if the charged amount is too small. They can’t afford to charge every single parcel. So many parcels every day… And HMRC has its internal targets…



Avoid couriers! Courier parcels have a completely different regime of customs inspection. If you order your brandy to be delivered by courier service to UK (Fedex, TNT, DHL), it will be delivered in 2-3 business days. Really fast! But you have to be aware you will be charged VAT, excise duty and administrative cost. If the brandy arrives from a country that is not a candidate for EU membership, customs duty as well will be charged. All of this can be as high as 150% of what you already paid for the brandy and the shipping. Totally opposite to the postal parcels, courier parcels have no exemptions: every drop of spirit is charged.

So, we suggest you to use courier delivery only if you really need it fast (expecting guests for the weekend, forgot that your grandpa has birthday in 3 days…), but be ready to pay for the speed.

Our experience shows that 89.7% of our customers would wait longer for its parcel if there4 would be no customs charges.



It happens sometimes that the parcel arrives in UK without customs declaration, invoice and other documents that were supposed to be attached to the parcel. Only the recipient’s name. HMRC Officers will open the parcel, examine its contents and determine the eventual customs charges. Since UK Customs Officers don’t know what is the price of the brandy from your parcel in Serbia and at what price you bought it, they will take as the basis for charging- their own catalogue values. Which means: you will be charged as if you bought the brandy in the UK. We all know that UK brandy prices are at least half higher than prices of the brandy in Serbia. But they simply have no other way to determine the value.

This is the reason why we always put one copy of the invoice inside the parcel. Because, the postmen always claim it’s not their fault.

If you order your brandy from any other web shop outside of UK or EU, ask the sender to attach one extra copy of the invoice to the parcel. The paper’s not that expensive as the postmen’s sloppiness.


Based on 5 years experience of plum brandy slivovitz mail delivery business from Serbia.