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I am planning on visiting several friends in various parts of Europe this summer. I'm coming from outside the EU, and my point to entry into the EU is the UK.

I would like to bring a local mead as a gift to several different friends' families. However, I'm having trouble figuring out how much mead I can bring in. At first I would assume mead would be treated as wine, which is allowed 4 liters, but then the UK customs site lists a lower limit for "fortified wine (eg port, sherry), sparkling wine and alcoholic drinks up to 22% alcohol - 2 litres".

The brand of mead I want to bring is 12-14% alcohol.

Will mead be regarded as wine or perhaps this "other" category?

  • Mead is classed as "made-wine" by HMRC; as far as I am aware they usually treat made-wine the same as wine. If you really want your four bottles (which I think you are entitled to) you can declare it; usually they don't worry about you being a bit over the allowance anyway as long as you declare it. – Calchas Jun 11 '17 at 20:08
  • @Calchas thanks for the information; it seems like it should be an answer? – user151841 Jun 11 '17 at 20:25
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    I will write up an answer, but I want to supply my experiences with some facts. Unfortunately the exact law governing duty-free personal imports seems to be rather hard to find. – Calchas Jun 11 '17 at 20:26
  • @Calchas see whether this covers it – Giorgio Jun 12 '17 at 18:37
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Here's what HM Revenue & Customs has to say about it, within Alcohol Duties guidance (added emphasis mine):

Wine is defined as a drink produced by fermentation of fresh grapes or grape must.

Made-wine is any other drink - apart from beer or cider - containing alcohol that is made by fermentation, rather than by distillation or any other process. For example, mead is classed as made-wine.

Fortified wine or wine mixed with spirits

If you produce any of the following, they are classed as spirits and you must pay duty at the Spirits Duty rate:

  • wine or made-wine fortified to a strength above 22% ABV
  • a drink that is classified as a spirit rather than a wine - for example, because most of the volume or alcohol of the final product comes from the spirit element rather than the wine

Generally, mead is not fortified, as alcohol has not been added to increase the content beyond that which is achieved through the fermentation processes. What you have is within the normal range for mead; it may make it strong, but it is not fortified.

Referencing the information in your own link, places your mead (12-14% alcohol) within allowances of 4 litres.

Alcohol allowance

How much you can bring depends on the type of drink. You can bring in:

  • beer - 16 litres
  • wine (not sparkling) - 4 litres

You can also bring in either:

  • spirits and other liquors over 22% alcohol - 1 litre
  • fortified wine (eg port, sherry), sparkling wine and alcoholic drinks up to 22% alcohol - 2 litres

You can split this last allowance, eg you could bring 1 litre of fortified wine and half a litre of spirits (both half of your allowance).

  • Doesn't it fall in the alcoholic drinks up to 22% alcohol category with a limit of 2 litres, not 4? – Peter Taylor Jun 21 '17 at 19:35
  • @PeterTaylor It's not fortified, it's made-wine with 14% alcohol content. – Giorgio Jun 21 '17 at 20:23
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    The text you quote defines limits for seven categories: 1. beer; 2. wine (not sparkling); 3. spirits; 4. other liquors over 22%; 5. fortified wine; 6. sparkling wine; 7. alcoholic drinks up to 22%. Of those seven categories, mead only falls into number 7 according to the definitions in the first quote. – Peter Taylor Jun 21 '17 at 21:31

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