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The best ways to save money when buying wine duty free from France

Brexit Britain has been under new duty-free rules since January, but with lockdowns and bans on travel, many Brits don’t know what the new allowances mean and how to benefit the most.

Before Brexit, a trip to France meant you could bring back as much wine as you wanted as long as it was for personal consumption. The same 20% VAT was paid in France as in the UK, but the big saving was the duty which was only 0.03 € per bottle. This is a significant saving on the UK duty of £2.23 per bottle for still wine and £2.86 for sparkling. So a saving of £2.20 or £2.64 when including 20% VAT. A trip to Calais for, say 10 cases of 12 bottles, would save £317 in tax. A significant incentive to pop over to France for the day.

The new Duty Free allowances are:
•42 litres of beer
•18 litres of still wine
•4 litres of spirits OR 9 litres of sparkling wine, fortified wine or any alcoholic beverage less than 22% ABV

In other words, you are allowed to bring back 24 bottles of still wine and 12 bottles of sparkling or fortified wine.

As duty free can in most countries be purchased without the host country's duty including VAT, a traditional booze cruise buying wines averaging £3 a bottle in France would save £64.22 UK excise duty for 24 bottles of still wines and £33.96 for 12 bottles of sparkling (it has a slightly higher tax rate vs still). The French 20% vat could also be saved worth £21.60 (36 x £3 bottles at 20%). A total tax saving of £120 for total allowance of 36 bottles of still/sparkling wine combined.

For the three cases of wine purchased duty free in France for say £10 the saving is £170. The more expensive the wine the more money you save because of the saving of the 20% VAT. 3 cases of £50 bottles saves £458 in taxes.

The traditional Calais booze cruise was about volume, the more you bought the more you saved. Now it is more about bringing back some quality wines.