Cigarette restrictions for travellers returning from Bulgaria and Romania


The Government today announced the introduction of restrictions on the amount of tax and duty paid on cigarettes purchased for own use that travellers from Bulgaria and Romania can bring back into the UK without paying UK duty. Under their accession agreements, Bulgaria and Romania are allowed transitional periods in which to meet EU minimum duty rates on cigarettes. However, until these rates are reached, other EU member states are entitled to maintain the restrictions currently applied to travellers arriving from outside the EU.

While the minimum duty rates are not met, concerns and uncertainties over the impact of EU enlargement on excise smuggling and cross-border shopping are heightened, and therefore the UK has decided to maintain the restrictions.

The restrictions are as follows:

– 200 cigarettes from Bulgaria and Romania

Any cigarettes brought back by travellers in excess of the limits will be subject to UK duty. If the excess is not declared to UK Customs, all of the cigarettes could be seized.

The restrictions reflect the current limits on cigarettes for travellers arriving in the UK from countries outside the EU.

For all other tobacco products, the usual rules for EU travellers apply and there is no limit on bringing back those goods as long as these are for the person's own use.

Notes for editors

1. The announcement of the restrictions was made in a Written Ministerial Statement by Financial Secretary to the Treasury John Healey on 29 November. Copies can be obtained by visiting the parliamentary website at

2. Travellers carrying goods in excess of the restrictions will be given the opportunity to pay UK duty by entering the Customs Red Channel or using the Customs Red Point phone.

3. Travellers can bring back into the UK as much EU duty paid tobacco as they like as long as it is for their own use and is transported by them. If travellers bring back large quantities of tobacco, a Customs Officer is more likely to ask about the purposes for which they hold the goods. This particularly applies if they have with them more than the following amounts: 3,200 cigarettes, 200 cigars, 400 cigarillos and 3kg of smoking tobacco. These guide levels, are the highest in the EU and help officers to identify goods that may not be for personal use. Customs do not enforce any absolute limits for EU travellers providing that the goods are for their own personal use and are transported by them.

4. A summary of how tobacco brought in by travellers for own use will be treated from each of the 2 new EU countries is as follows:
BULGARIA – Limit of 200 cigarettes. Normal UK guide levels apply for cigars; 200, cigarillos; 400 and smoking tobacco; 3kg.
ROMANIA – Limit of 200 cigarettes. Normal UK guide levels apply for cigars; 200, cigarillos; 400 and smoking tobacco; 3kg.

5. Smoking tobacco includes hand rolling tobacco and other smoking (including pipe) tobacco.

6 The Excise Duty Points (Etc.) (New Member States) (Amendment) Regulations 2006, the Customs and Excise Duties (Travellers' Allowances and Personal Reliefs) (New Member States) (Amendment) Order 2006 and the Reliefs for Legacies Imported from Third Countries (Application) Order 2006 were laid before Parliament on 29 November 2006. The legislation is subject to parliamentary approval.

7 The transitional period for Bulgaria and Romania to bring their cigarette duty rates into line with EU minimum levels ends on 31 December 2009.

8 These measures extend restrictions already in place on certain tobacco products imported from 8 of the 10 countries that joined the EU IN 2004.

9 Travellers who require further information should call the Customs National Advice Service on 0845 010 9000 or visit the Revenue and Customs website at

If using specific facts contained in this release please check the information is still current.

Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office

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