How to import wine into the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales)

The UK is one of the main importers of wine because of the modest local production. Among the favorites of the UK there are Italian, French and Spanish wines, and consumers are choosing the most prestigious ones. Owners of Italian, French and Spanish wineries who want to increase their turnover, have excellent business opportunities in the UK market. Important information:  Wine importers are required to pay excise duty on imports of wines of which we will give more details in the next section. Also we will give you more information about translating the wine labels and about the packaging for transporting the wine. In general, you should rely on an export manager for help as it might be complicated to sell and import wine in the UK.

Important information about importing wine in the UK.

When Importing wines in the UK,  you must observe certain rules. In this article we will give you valuable information about the wines and the excise tariffs in relation to the type of wine and its alcoholic level by volume (ABV).

Excise Duty on wine – how much to pay based on the types of wine imported.

The rates of excising duties on wines are subject to a variation depending on the type of wine (still or sparkling) and the alcohol by volume (ABV) it contains. Excise duties are applied starting on from 1.2% ABV up to a maximum of 15% ABV. The fees increase with not only the percentage of alcohol by volume (ABV), but also according to the type of wine: sparkling wine is subject to a greater amount of excising duty than a still wine. The liqueur wines or fortified exceeding the alcoholic level by volume of 22%, are classified as “Spirits” and then are taxed according to the Spirits Duties.

Table UK wine excising updated in March 2014 *:

Type of wine or made-wine

Wine Excising Tariff for 100 liters of product

Wine and made-wine between 1.2% and 4% ABV £ 84.21

Wine and made-wine between 4% and 5.5% ABV £ 115.80

Still wine and made-wine between 5.5% and 15% ABV £ 273.31

Wine and made-wine between 15% and 22% ABV £ 364.37

Sparkling wine and made-wine between 5.5% and 8.5% ABV £ 264.61

Sparkling wine and made-wine between 8.5% and 15% ABV £ 350.07

* For more information about the rates of excise duties, please see the official website

Translation to English of wine labels – What to include.

According to European and British laws, the label of the wine must contain basic information such as: name of the wine, country of origin, a brief description, the alcohol content.

Who produces wines labelled as IGT,  PGI wines, DOC or DOP (denomination of controlled origin) and DOCG or (protected designation of origin and guaranteed), should know that the label should omit the word “wine”, as the designation of origin is enough to qualify the drink. So, for example, Amarone della Valpolicella, the label will not require the the wording “wine”, since his name is enough to identify it. The manufactures of generic wines, however, should indicate the the product with the wording “wine” and what the type. For example “sweet wine”, “sparkling wine”, “sweet wine.”

Shipping wine abroad to the UK.

You should also know how to ship bottles of wine abroad. First, you have to look for a company in the wine packaging business as you will need packaging suitable for glass bottles. The most common types of packaging are in cardboard and polystyrene packaging that ensure safe transport and no alteration of the content properties. To perform the exportation, you can entrust to a specialized courier or an ecommerce website. The sites that deal with the online sales of wines, as well as providing greater visibility to the product and to practice safe transactions, or someone who already know the best ways to export one or more packs of wine abroad.

Finally, to ship wine to the UK and around the world, you should follow the rules of the National Institute for Foreign Trade

Bureaucracy and excise duties within the EU.

Despite liberalization within the EU, you cannot ship spirits freely. In fact, the European Community leaves to each country the possibility to manage their own excise and customs when it comes to alcohol products. This greatly complicates the lives of small producers of wine and beer business to export abroad. For more information on excise duties in the EU we recommend to check this page in English.

UPS simplifies the procedure for small businesses.

The shipping company UPS seems to have a service of shipping and customs clearance of alcoholic products in the following countries: Belgium, Germany, Poland, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and Portugal. The American company operates in the European community and has this service that helps manufacturers of beer and wine to ship their products abroad. The site advises that the products must have an alcohol content of less than 70% and should be in containers of less than 5 liters. Although it is always necessary to have a contract with the shipper you can contact UPS to determine immediately if the customer is eligible. UPS also provides suitable packaging for shipment of the bottles. We highly recommend you to contact them for this service since they could really make easier all operations.

For more information, please visit this page

Duty paid, duty Suspended, Bonded warehouse.

For those who want to know more regarding the rules applicable the UK, (England, Wales, Northen Ireland and Scotland) there are two types of excise duty: duty paid (tax already paid) or suspended duty (tax is suspended according to conditions). It ‘s possible to ship alcohol to  a warehouse approved by the UK government (bonded warehouse) and you will not pay any duty until the product is sold and leaves the warehouse. It ‘s important to know that these stores are often companies that deal with the bureaucracy and therefore you should always rely on them for your exports. For more information please visit the website of the government and view the “public notices” concerning duties. Here another page with further explanation.

 What does do for you?

Sfoodle remains at your disposal if you need further help for selling of your wines or alcohol products in the UK. Our company was established to help those who have the desire to increase their company and sell abroad. We can help you to do market research, translations, participation in trade fairs and tastings.


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