01438 741177         thewinesociety.com

Do we have to pay duty and vat on imports of wine for own consumption from online wine dealers in france?


I buy most of my wine from the society but during my travel in loire, I had some wine which are not stocked by the Soc. and as I am flying makes it difficult to carry say a case. I am thinking of chinon wine by bernard baudry or olga raffault. Would appreciate advice from members who have such experience

Viúva Gomes Colares Red 1934 - Would you try this?

Legal situation is that unless you accompany the wine as it enters UK you have to pay UK tax - note then that you are not bound to pay the foreign country’s tax as they are exporting - but whether the seller is set up/willing to do is who knows??

If the foreign seller levies UK taxes and gives you the proof with the shipment then you are eligible.

Now, sometimes you can receive the shipment without paying tax but that’s because of incompetence of the various authorities.

If the foreign seller uses a shipping company, such as DHL, they will deliver the wine and some weeks later you get letters demanding not only UK taxes but also a hefty admin fee (that has happened to me)

IANAL but it’s clearly laid out on the Customs website


Thank you for the information. Guess I will just to look for an UK supplier.
I wish the Soc would stock them as they are nice red wines having good aromas and a good finish. Very good value too comparatively.


It depends on your airlines baggage allowance . 6 bottles weighs about 9 kilos.

I’ve travelled with a wine box (polystyrene cut with holes for wine in a cardboard box)from Euope, US, Canada, Europe and South Africa and checked them inot the hold.

Or put some wine carriers in your suitcase, depends n your baggage allowance and how many clothes you pack.


I know many people who just get wine delivered and never pay anything: but it is meant to be paid. I had some deliveried off a Spanish website. No tax.
The two producers you mentioned are top notch.


Just out of interest, @peterm, what sort of admin fee did they levy?


Peterm is quite right about taxes levied, but there does seem to be a bit of a lottery as to whether you will be charged, I have never purchased wine that way but other items from the USA , machine parts, came with no UK taxes charged yet other occasions I was charged for the same items, ditto other countries outside Europe.

It does depend on whether the European company has set up to pay the taxes their end, some do state on their websites that they do ?, others buyer beware.

And yet to further confuse, I get a case each year from Aus sent by my oldest friend having purchased from a list I send him and have never been charged for anything !


I had thought that so long as you are buying for personal use from another EU country, and taxes (VAT etc.) have been paid in that country, there was no UK duty or VAT to pay.
Maybe I am wrong and have just been lucky; when I have bought a case of wine online from wine merchants in France or Germany (1 time each) it has arrived promptly, with no extra costs.


That is supposed to be how the EU works, i.e. free movement of goods. But the UK (and some other countries with high alcohol taxes) don’t want to lose revenue and do charge taxes.

Only way legally to import alcohol for personal use without paying UK taxes is to pay the relevent tax in the other EU country you purchase it and personally* accompany it across the UK border.

Even then, UK Customs are suspicious of large amounts - for wine its excess of 90 litres (10 cases) of wine and may ask for proof that it’s all for personal use., e.g. for a wedding.

*this means it’s not legal to get a friend to bring wine for you…

Its clearly laid out on the UK Customs website

You don’t 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

The Canary Islands, the north of Cyprus, Gibraltar and the Channel Islands are not part of the EU for customs purposes - follow the rules for countries outside the EU instead.


So it is legal to get a friend to do it if they give it to you as a ‘gift’ :wink:


Depends on courier. Not insignificant, but I don’t have the paper work any more.

Last year I imported 3 cases of wine from South Africa opting to pay UK taxes with order but after delivery DHL pursued me for taxes and admin fees. It is very difficult to contact anyone there who is resposible. Luckily the merchant in South Africa eventually succeeded. But I had several unpleasant demands from the courier.


It’s good to have good friends, eh? :face_with_raised_eyebrow:


The last time I came back from the continent the the UK customs seemed more suspicious because my exhaust was dragging on the tarmac with all the extra weight, “riding a bit low today sir” oh that’s because the mother in law is along for the ride, carry on sir …


I had the same situation last year: Travelling in Bordeaux… lovely wine from Isle Margaux (it’s the only vineyard on an island in the Gironde, technically in Margaux commune ). The owners were very helpful, but the e-commerce website was pretty awful - so in the end I e-mailed them direct and sorted it that way.

DHL were the couriers, and there were no extra costs. I have no idea if local taxes were rolled into the seller’s price to me. The seller was very efficient - after all, they do this all the time.

Definitely buy whole cases.

Payment is easy via BACs - but you need the seller’s international bank code.

Is it ‘worth it’ - probably not, there is no real cost saving because importing small amounts outweighs cheaper bottle prices. But it is great to have some special wine to put aside. On reflection, it is only worth doing for REALLY interesting bottles. So go for it!


I tasted this wine last year – they are very rare in that they make claret from all sic Bordeaux red varieties.

Agree the website is awful, I have ust looked at it for info on delivery without success


I also love the wines of the Baudry and Raffault families. I’ve visiting Baudry-Detour and J M Raffault for many years. It would be great if the Society were to carry them.



of course Bernard Baudry and Baudry-Dutour are different producers. When we visited we went to Baudry-dutour as they have a shop, almost next to Bernards Baudry’s domain which had very firmly closed gates! We’re still drinking the La Grille wines from this visit.

I’m not sure if the Raffault you mention isn’t also different from Olga who we visited ands were impressed with.

Anyway it would be good if they were stocked as you say.


The La Grille is interesting. I thought that the very heavy bottle was just a bit of pretentious marking but Carine explained that the family first arrived from the Champagne region and brought with them some Champagne bottles that they used for their first Chinon vintage. Ever since they have used similar bottles just for the Ch. la Grille.
The cave a little to the east of the Chinon Castle on the road along the river is worth investigating. They have a good range to taste from local growers. We first tried ‘our’ Baudry there before he linked up with Detour. The also stock J M Raffault, they must all be related!
Best wishes



Sounds like the place we went to. Remember the rose too was great.

the other producer was http://www.olga-raffault.com out towards the Loire. The great thing here was they had older vintages on taste and to buy. As well as being very good😀


I’m just about to buy 24 bottles direct from Ile Margaux (that’s the island in the Gironde, technically in Margaux - although ‘offshore’) - the producer is great to deal with. The wine is recognisably Margaux with a slightly feral complexity & ages well.

Shipping / import cost for 24 bottles is 75E including VAT, Bottle price is 20E each, so TOTAL cost 555E = £493 or £20.54 a bottle all in.

Payment is via bank transfer so is a bit of a faf, and my bank might charge a fiver.

Conclusion… it takes a bit of e-mail tennis, but otherwise pretty easy. Price is impossible to compare with buying from (for instance) TWS becasue these bottles are unavailable in the UK in anyway. My gut feeling, is the price is about the same. BUT the big plus is being able to have a case or two of absolutely unique wine and open one occasionally. And it is interesting.