What is excise duty and when is it payable?


For some goods it is necessary to pay excise duty in addition to any Customs duties. Applicable to the movement of goods within the EU as well as imports from outside the EU, excise duty is payable against the import of a number of products within the following categories:

  • Alcoholic beverages, including low alcohol beverages
  • Imported composite goods containing alcohol
  • Tobacco products
  • Hydrocarbon oil
  • Imported composite goods containing mineral oils
  • Goods covered by the Climate Change Levy such as gas and electricity
  • Biofuels

The rate of excise duty that is payable is variable, depending upon, not only the product category being imported, but also the type of product within the category.  For example, with wine, a higher rate of excise duty is levied on produce with a higher alcohol content, whilst, for beer, the amount of excise duty applied is dependent on factors such as the size of the manufacturer and the country in which it is manufactured.

Given the variable rates of excise duty, the importance of utilising the correct commodity code for your shipments is paramount to ensure correct excise duty values are applied against your imported goods, along with any other additional taxes or duties that may apply. Any goods arriving in the UK on which excise duty has not been paid will be liable to seizure by Customs.

Depending on the nature of your import, it may be possible to apply for relief from excise duty. Circumstances where such eventualities may be applicable currently include the use of dutiable alcoholic liquor in the manufacture of chocolates whereby 100 kilograms of chocolate would not contain more than 8.5 litres of alcohol, tobacco imports for use in research and spirits to be used for medical or scientific purpose.

Our in-house Customs compliance department are able to handle the clearance of all imported goods. For further details please contact the team.


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