I smoke an Indian brand which is extremely hard to find in UK. I really don't want to do any shady thing but I went through HMRC website and still couldn't figure out how much it will cost me if I declare the extra packs at customs or if the cost will outweigh the hassle.

I understand my duty free allowance on cigarettes is 200 but would I be able to bring a couple extra packs (5-6 packs/ around 100 cigarettes total) without paying duty since they're just for personal use?

  • 1
    As a fellow expat; all my friends are encouraged to bring cheese when they visit me abroad. Perhaps your friends could bring you some ?
    – Antzi
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 9:24
  • 7
    The 200-cigarette allowance is already intended for personal use, you don't get any extra allowance because of that.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 9:54
  • ISTR personal use includes gifts for friends, but not resale to anybody.
    – nigel222
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 10:03

4 Answers 4


The UK tobacco excise duty at the time of writing is

16.5% of the retail price plus £196.42 per thousand cigarettes

the latter of which is pro rata, so it works out to

16.5% of the retail price plus £3.93 on a packet of 20

As far as I can tell, when you declare tobacco, unlike other items, you are liable for duty on all of the tobacco, not just that over your personal allowance. It's possible that with the amount being only somewhat over the allowance, HMRC might not bother to impose the duty, due to it being somewhat complicated to calculate (what's the retail price of foreign cigarettes?), but you shouldn't count on that.

If it were me, I'd just bring 200 (or fewer) cigarettes, confidently walk through the green channel, and then look harder to see if I could find somewhere in the UK that sells them. And remember that the cigarettes in your open pack also count, so be careful if those might bring you over 200.

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    The other approach would be to call all your friends in advance and ask for "orders", then pay the duty on many more than 200 (assuming that this particular brand really is much-sought but well-nigh unobtainable in the UK).
    – nigel222
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 10:06
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    @nigel222 I don't see what difference that makes, you could bring in more than 200 for your own personal use and pay the duty on that. In fact taking orders for other people might complicate things as you might be seen as an importer.
    – Sarriesfan
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 13:39
  • "when you declare tobacco, unlike other items, you are liable for duty on all of the tobacco": it's the same for wine. However you would be quite unlucky to be stopped.
    – Calchas
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 11:09
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    @Calchas HMRC will X-ray hold luggage as it comes off the plane. When they see a bag full of cartons of tobacco they will make note of it, watch to see who collects it from the baggage carousel, and then "randomly" select that person for a customs inspection. Commented Apr 1, 2019 at 1:16

Don't cheat, declare and custom pay the duty. be a nice person :)


Indian nationals are allowed to bring up to 2 boxes of cigarettes (400 cig sticks in total) without having to declare them at customs in UK.

Source: Delhi duty free & IGI airport international departure information and service desk.

  • For something that could result in trouble with customs, I would rather have a written source than just the statement of some service desk employee. The latter isn't something I can cite if the issue comes up at the border.
    – helm
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 9:30
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    I did mention it at the immigration in UK upon arrival that i purchased 400 smokes at Delhi duty free and i am not sure if i am supposed to declare anything. he pointed me towards the green chanel.
    – Dr.Singh
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 9:58
  • @Dr.Singh Most of the time they can't be bothered to process it. Too much work for what is probably going to be less than £20. However if you don't ask, then are supposed to seize all of your goods and fine you (although again they don't usually bother).
    – Calchas
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 11:12

Good luck bringing 2 x 200 cigarettes into the UK and not declaring.

I would question the knowledge of Delhi Duty Free and IGI staff as they just want to make a sale and will not see you again.

The UK government website is clear in what it says, and it says only 200 cigarettes allowed and if they are for personal use or a gift.

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