Bringing wine into the UK
The rules on bringing wine from France, or any other EU member state, to the UK are clear on the gov.uk website:
"Arrivals from EU countries
You do not pay duty or tax on goods you bring in from the European Union (EU) as long as you:
- transport them yourself
- will use them yourself or give them away as a gift
- have paid duty and tax in the country where you bought them
If a customs officer thinks you may be bringing in goods to sell, they may stop you to make checks and ask:
- the type and quantity of goods you’ve bought
- why you bought them
- how you paid for them
- how often you travel
- how much you normally smoke or drink
Although there are no limits to the alcohol and tobacco you can bring in from EU countries, you’re more likely to be asked questions if you have more than… 90 litres of wine." (i.e. 20 cases of 6, or 10 cases of 12 bottles.)"
See also the EU's Europa.eu website "As a private individual, there are no limits on what you can buy and take with you when travelling between EU countries as long as the products purchased are for your own use and not for resale. Taxes (VAT and excise) are included in the price of the product in the country where you bought it, so no further payments are due in any other EU country."
Duty rates - UK v France and beyond
Since 1 February 2019 the UK duty on still wine, of 5.5%-15% vol, is £2.23 a bottle plus VAT, or £2.68 including VAT. VAT is payable on duty and on the wine.
UK duty on sparkling wine of 8.5%-15% vol, is £2.86, or £3.43 including VAT.
The comparable duty rates in France are 3p and 8p respectively, including VAT. VAT on the wine is the same, at 20%.
61% of a £5 bottle of still wine in the UK is tax (£2.23 duty plus 83p VAT = £3.06). 50% of a £6.70 bottle is tax ((£2.23 duty plus £1.12 VAT).
58% of a £7 bottle of sparkling wine in the UK is tax (£2.86 duty plus £1.17 VAT = £4.03). 50% of a £8.60 bottle of sparkling wine is tax (£2.86 duty plus £1.44 VAT).
This century, UK wine duty has gone up 72% over the last 10 years, compared to 15% in the 8 years before that.
UK duty on sparkling wine went up by just 4% in 8 years from 2000, before going up 70% in the last 10.
Here’s how duty on wine looks across the EU. Each country can charge what it likes.
This is duty on sparkling wine across the EU. At £3.43 a bottle v 8p, duty in the UK is £40 more per dozen than in France.
The UK Government takes nearly two thirds – 64% – of all the wine duty collected in the EU. (The UK population is around 13% of the EU.)