Return of the booze cruise?

Speculation is rife that Brexit could herald the return of the so-called ‘booze cruises’, whereby UK shoppers would be allowed to buy alcohol, cigarettes and other luxury goods in the European Union tax-free and bring them back home.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, duty-free shopping with EU countries will likely make a return. Chancellor Sajid Javid has already said that he wants to “back British travellers” and “help holidaymakers’ cash go that little bit further.”

According to the Treasury, people travelling to the EU would be able to take advantage of duty-free shopping. A statement went on to say that under a no-deal Brexit, UK excise duty would no longer be due on alcohol and cigarettes bought when leaving Britain.

This means that a bottle of wine could be as much as £2.23 cheaper when bought at a UK airport by a departing passenger. Meanwhile, people returning from the EU would have a choice when it comes to duty-free goods. They could continue to purchase and bring home unlimited amounts of cigarettes and alcohol with duty paid, or instead buy limited amounts at duty-free shops in EU countries.

There are reports from France that canny officials are looking to cash in on the return to the good old days of duty-free goods by offering UK visitors big tax breaks on cigarettes and alcohol, particularly in the port of Calais.

Brussels banned duty-free shopping within the European Union when the Single Market was created but city leaders in Calais are hoping that Brexit could lead to a resurgence in visitor numbers from the UK. The mayor’s office is also looking at introducing tax breaks that would allow UK visitors to reclaim VAT on hotel stays and restaurant meals.

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