Very Very Important WARNING!!!!!! **UPDATED** **UPDATE 2** **UPDATE 3 (Mar 2013 Budget)**

Border Force (UKBA) have always issued cross-border shoppers will the following statement when they have stopped and searched cross-border shoppers for tobacco. It is called the Commerciality Statement and reads :-

“You have excise goods in your possession (control) which appear not to have borne UK duty.
Goods may be held without payment of duty providing they have been acquired and are held for your own use. I suspect that you may be holding goods for a commercial purpose and not for your own use. I intend to ask you some questions to establish whether these goods are held for a commercial purpose.
If no satisfactory explanation is forthcoming or if you do not stay for questioning it may lead me to conclude that the goods are not held for your own use but held for a commercial purpose and your goods (and vehicle) may be seized as liable to forfeiture.
You are not under arrest and are free to leave at any time. Do you understand?

We've been over this, time and time again how some Border Force officers present the guidelines as actual limits which intimidates people into just walking away and leaving their goods. We've always said that you should not do this and instead go through the interview interrogation to fight for your goods.
This week. for the first time ever, we've had 3 shoppers who have just walked away and are now being hit with demands to pay the excise duty and civil penalties from HM Revenue & Customs!
These amount to no insignificant sum, the totals we have seen so far vary from £1500 to £2500 for around 8kg of tobacco (all 3 had around this amount)
We've had shoppers who have had their goods seized after the interview interrogation and then warned if they appeal and it goes to court that they could face costs varying from £1500 to £2500 (similarity to above amounts may be a coincidence).  Some shoppers don't want to run that risk and so drop the appeal. Now it seems that they will be hit for a similar amount from HM Revenue and Customs without even going to court!
We and our associates are now challenging HMRC on this. HMRC are now viewing anyone walking away or not fighting the seizure as an admission of guilt on smuggling!
In the meantime it is imperative that you go prepared when cross-border shopping. Take your statement of truth and other relevant documents .... and :-


We ourselves, and others, actually prefer to start recording as soon as we disembark.


We've just had a 4th one. Similar story ... they had their goods seized, wrote an appeal and then got frightened off by the threat of court costs so withdrew their appeal. Their goods are then condemned because they don't oppose it. Then a week or so later, up step HMRC and present them with a demand for excise duty and a fine under Sect 13 of The Excise Goods (Holding, Movement and Duty Point) Regs 2010.§

These HMRC demands are coming from different offices around the country ... Leeds, Bristol etc so it's definitely a new policy that they have brought in countrywide. Speaking to our various associates we can find no case history for any situations like this but we'll continue to look.

This policy may have been brought in to try and address the problem of smugglers using mules but HMRC are obviously applying it to virtually anyone who just walks away or retracts their appeal. 

How many would walk away or retract their appeal if they knew this was going to happen. What an evil set of sick people these HMRC/UKBA/Border Force are. How can they sleep at night?

Walking away is definitely not an option ...  and to me, neither is retracting your appeal. Looks like the courts are going to be busy once word gets round.

As l say, we can find no case history on this sort of thing but until there is, you can expect it to continue.

lnterestingly, none of the shoppers in these 4 cases l've just got had recorded the interview interrogation and all of them had signed the officers notebooks.

Where all this is won and lost is the initial stop and search itself and the following interview interrogation. Be prepared people and let others know because if we don't tell them, they are walking into a sick trap! We can and do make a difference.


Having now got the official demands from HMRC sent to these people l can see that there is no civil penalties demanded. lt is the duty they are demanding. This is currently :-

£164.11 per kilogram

£172.74 per kilogram (Update Mar 2013 Budget)

Current duty rates incl cigarettes :-

The revised rates of duty are:  
• cigarettes: an amount equal to 16.5 per cent of the retail price plus £167.41 £176.22  per one 
thousand cigarettes;  
• cigars: £208.83 £219.82 per kilogram;  
• hand-rolling tobacco: £164.11 £172.74 per kilogram; and  
• other smoking tobacco and chewing tobacco: £91.81 £96.64 per kilogram.  


  1. As if it wasn't already clear why we need a site like this. I really do think that Simon Clark could do more to promote this site which gives shoppers of tobacco products abroad expert advice.

    The above expample is shocking evidence of how much money is lost to shoppers because of ignorance of procedures, aided and abetted by the UK Government.

    1. Simon dont say anything bout bringing baccy from EU. We dont exist in his eyes.

  2. Devious thieving bastards. l f'ing hate this country. l hope everyone takes them to court and clogs the whole shebang up cos what have you got to lose? Either you run risk of losing and paying costs or you deffo lose and pay this f'ing fine. Fight the thieving bastards!

    1. They are simply using the power of 'threat'-the threat being that 'we are big, you are small, we have money, you don't therefore we will win and you will have even less than before!'

  3. *is reeling in shock*

    SH, that can't be legal-can it? On what grounds can they issue a fine/demand for duty?!?!?

    ...and why has no one in the MSM or the supposed Libertarian blogospew been screaming?

  4. SH, you perhaps need to stop advising people to 'record the interview'. People might not realise that the 'interview' starts the moment the officer says 'Good morning'. People need to press 'record' as soon as they disembark.

    1. Agreed ... l'll change it. I'll post more on the legalities when l learn more ... of course they'll be using Civil Law despite how bloody uncivil it actually is!

    2. I think, and it's only a first thought based on not knowing any of the salient details so it probably isn't worth shit, that the 'pre-emptive' strike becomes more important still.

      By that I mean including a copy of a 'Advanced Notice Of Importation For PERSONAL Use' and-if you sent it off in time- acopy of whatever half arsed and possibly illegal reply from UKBA.

      On both my recent Stops, the BFer's were visibly taken aback that I had sent advanced notification and both times they read the replies and made copies.

      As long as one has not concealed any 'extra' tobacco (and my 'Advanced Notification' is always a beautifully vague ie 'between ₤200 -₤400 ponds worth and possibly a little more') I can't see them even bothering to issue a 'you may walk away' 'caution' and even if they did and you did 'walk away' then I think they could not claim that as proof of smuggling-as long as the amounts you had declared in your Advanced Notification were consistent with the goods left behind.

      SH, what do think?

    3. Very good Idea TBD, what do you put in your advanced notice, and where do you send it.
      John Gibson

    4. George repling from Spain. Record from the start is good advice, however video recording MAY create mor problems than it is worth, But good quality digital audio recording is invaluable. I would always do it nyself and as we only have hand baggage I put a bottle of water at the bottom of my bag so it will be searched at the foreign airport and the water confiscated, but being less than confident of British Customs integrety or honesty, It would be something to fall back on if something not belonging to me was planted in my bag during a UKBA search.
      Would they go that far,????? I would have no doubt they would and the belive in my mind THEY DO.
      On the subject of Spain, Everything going Up Up Up as vat rising again to 23% so booze, fags and Baccy costing more as well. My advice is FIGHT them all the way.

  5. Can't one "walk away" but taking the good with them as they go? Or no, they don't give you that opportunity, they already have the product in their hot little evil hands at that point. They're not just lying on the table and one can't just reach down and take them and walk away then?

  6. These 'fines ' are civil penalties no court case necessary. They are being levied at £164.11 per kilo on rolling tobacco prorata on other products. There is no need to prove smuggling, you walk away you are liable, you argue and loose your goods you are still liable. You write them a letter of advance notice you are still liable. It is incorrect to call them fines as they are classed as civil penalties, same as the 'fine' for late return of tax returns......

    you may as well fight them in court it may well cost you LESS..


  7. None of this would stand up in a criminal case and these smug goonie twats know it.

  8. Thanks for clearing that up bobi, SH is confusing this as "fined" for not fighting back or walking away when infact it's prove you are honest or your fu~ked whatever you do.

    This is a good warning that recording UKBA and shoving statements of truth infront of customs is a help but your story has got to add up,figures etc, tough talking is no match for a concrete story.

    This really is a brutal new tactic from UKBA but piss taking small time bootleggers rack up seizures one after the other for years without fear so it's long overdue to be honest.

    Be prepared and be prepared and be prepared, UKBA are no rollover if you are not prepared. Yes record and produce statements, and be word perfect on your story.

    Your story, your facts, your life is what counts.

    1. lt goes without saying that your facts and figures have to add up but it's not rocket science to do it. After you've done the first one it's easy peasy because you use it next time ... along with your history.

      What's long overdue is convictions but they are not interested because that includes factual evidence. No, they'd rather have the money by abusing Civil Law and robbing unsuspecting travellers than doing what they are really supposed to ... and that's investigate and convict smugglers ... along with using PACE and seizing criminal assets.

      I think they've screwed up on this though because people are going to take it to the wire. The courts will be full of these cases.

    2. Got to agree there Smokey. The threat of court costs now means sweet FA!

  9. Thieving bastards, simple as that!
    The (many) banking-eurozone crisis and general cocking up of the economy must be much worse than even I thought possible if the government is sinking so low as to steal money from cross-border shoppers in such a blatant and unethical way, and financial collapse cannot be far off if they think that they need to.
    All the more reason to purchase MORE baccy overseas, at sensible prices, and stock up for the coming collapse!

  10. To be exact breach of Regulation 13 renders one liable to pay the duty under Regulation 18. It would appear these 'civil penalties' are being levied : Contravention of conditions or requirements-duty point and persons liable to pay
    Regulation 18.—(1) The excise duty point for excise goods in respect of which there is a failure to comply with any condition subject to which any relief from payment of duty on those goods was conferred is the time of that failure to comply.
    (2) The person liable to pay the duty is the person holding the excise goods at the excise duty point.(YOU)

    In other words you don't comply with reg 13 you are liable to pay under reg 18, but as we haven't had the FOI's back yet we cannot be certain...


    1. Where's the 'proportionality' that HMRC had to adhere to after the Hoverspeed case? One more thing ... where's the bloody lawyers/barristers to fight this crap? This country sucks!

    2. There is proportionality for revenue traders, they have a set scale of 'fines' depending on all sorts of factors including how well they 'co-operated'
      The problem here is there is no leeway under regulation 18 (2) they charge 'the duty' £164 a kilo.
      The next problem is there is no right of appeal, except possibly through the county court.
      Notices 300 and 301 apply to 'traders' as does regulation 89 there is nothing in schedule 1 or 2 of the regulations that would allow 'civil penalty for breach of regulation 13.
      They must be using regulation 18 as a standalone to charge the duty, it is quite possible they are not 'civil penalties' at all and they are applying regulation 18 exactly as the rule is written. It is an obligation to pay the duty because of a breach of regulation 13.
      WAIT FOR THE FOI's bobi

    3. Revenue Trader? ... To trade one has to sell/exchange/barter something. Until you do that, you are merely a collector/hoarder. HMRC even alter the English language now!

      FFS even the wacky baccy growers have to have over a certain amount to be charged with 'intent to supply'. Note that they don't get charged with drug dealing (trading).

      lt's early days yet but the reports l've had from people getting these civil penalties etc had amounts around 8kg ... which is approx only 6 months supply for a heavy smoker.

    4. Paragraph 11 of EU Council Directive 118/2008 (11) In the event of an irregularity, excise duty should be due in the Member State on whose territory the irregularity
      has been committed which has led to the release for consumption or, if it is not possible to establish where the irregularity has been committed, it should be due in
      the Member State where it has been detected. Where excise goods do not arrive at their destination and no irregularity has been detected, the irregularity shall be deemed to have occurred in the Member State of
      The Excise Goods (Movement Holding and Duty Point) Regulations 2010 are the english law version of 2008/118.
      Regulation 18 is the UK version of para 11.
      If you have breached regulation 13. You have created an irregularity.
      Regulation 13 is the UK version of Chapter 5 Article 32.

      Unfortunately Customs appear to have UK and EU law on their side. However if they are levying these 'fines' as 'civil penalties' as opposed liability to pay under regulation 18 they may well be unenforceable (finance act 1996).
      One thing for sure it is going to get messy.
      Who has the money to finance a county court action, never mind the inevitable appeal.
      UK government action under 92/12 was investigated by the EU commissioners, it may well be investigated again under this action.
      There is no case law.
      These regulations only came in in 2010 and I've heard of no previous cases.
      As for Hoverspeed , its been overwritten by legislation such as the Policing and Crime Act 2009 and these regulations.
      WHY DOES IT FEEL LIKE 1999 and operation Maximum Disruption all over again!!!!
      This time WE are armed but not the general public......

  11. A

    "WAIT FOR THE FOI's" Bobi

    Sounds like the best thing to do. We have to know exactly what we are dealing with here...cos it sure sounds totally fucked.

    Until then the advice has to be Never Walk Away, Record from the moment you disembark (which I assume is the 'duty point' although no doubt the UKBA will argue that the moment the 12 Mile limit was crossed...), SOT'd to the max and above all don't sign.

    1. Could n't agree more!!and try not to be on your own! Always have a witness, always record everything, and appeal on principle..... p.s the duty point is the customs shed.. although they appear not to be dishing out the 'fines' on the spot!! And keep every scrap of paper!!
      Do not give them the opportunity to seize or detain your goods!
      Spread the word this IS going to get nasty!!!!

    2. Having just reread Sect 13 I'm beginning to wonder if their justification for imposing these whatever-the-fuck-they-legally-are charges will turn out to be based on the notoriously 'fuzzy' (j) of the A-J ie the circumstance you chose to walk away shows you were in breach of sect 13 and are therefore liable under 18.

      But as said, hopefully FOIs will bring clarity.
      That'd be about right for their understanding of things.

    3. Word is getting out and we are having an effect. This e-mail was forwarded to me from a friend. :-

      Hi *****

      I done a trip to Belgium for my 9 monthly stock up on tobacco, got stopped on the way back, but I had already prepared the attached documents, 1 set for me, and 1 set for her to keep, and that I required a signature I also had a similar set for my passenger.
      The woman that stopped me looked at them, and went nuts, you would think I had stolen her dinner and fed it to my dog, I told her all possible questions she could have were already answered on the document, and that receipts were in hand, she asked where I had got this, and who told me to use it, I replied that it was my own idea ( although I actually downloaded a template on the web somewhere) and that I had done it because they had stopped me in the past for the same stupid reasons.
      She went off to discuss it with her boss, then returned and told me to get on my way, she refused to sign it, and I drove out of the shed.

      If you think this is useful, it is available somewhere out there in cyberspace, or you can type it to doc form, or I can mail you it in doc form if you want

      Best Regards

      ***** "

      The document was our very own Statement of Truth along with the Tobacco calculator spreadsheet :)

    4. "The document was our very own Statement of Truth along with the Tobacco calculator spreadsheet :)"

      LOL, you know you're making a difference when your own work gets recommended back to you, when you get a READ THIS linky to your own site.

  12. I really am in unknown territory here.

    I have, today, returned from Majorca via M/C airport. I was carrying 30 sleaves for myself and wife. There was no sign of customs at all. I was, of course, fully prepared.

    It seems to me that customs are deliberately hitting people with cars or other vehicles. What really amazes me is that these people have not already had some experience which might have warned them (even if they were not involved personally). It amazes me that people come to you guys AFTER they have had their goods seized (unless, of course, they have prepared but their preparations have been ignored by customs and their goods seized anyway). The horror situation would be that in which, whatever statements you may make (SOT etc) and not signing notebooks, customs seize you goods anyway (ie. steal them). It is hard to see how you have any alternative but to go home without them - UNLESS you can personally bring the police into the situation yourself. By that I mean deliberately change the position from a CIVIL to a CRIMINAL position.

    I do not know.

    1. First time poster who has had business dealings with HMRC in the past which is why I'm Mr Anonymous. It would seem to me that HMRC may well be targeting people with cars because cars are valuable and can be seized and sold, and the owners are frightened of losing them.

      It may well be that targeting people with cars is an earner for HMRC.

      It could be similar to the current insurance seizures by police where people with tools in the back of their cars are being stopped and if not in possession of traders insurance, having their cars seized and forefieted. This has happened to some people even though they were going to a fixed place of work and were not mobile builders /mechanics etc

    2. Could you please supply more details of this?
      What do you mean by 'traders insurance'?
      Are you referring to people in the motor trade, or some sort of tradesman insurance? Or maybe tradesmen (working in the building trade) travelling from home to the building site where they are currently working (as employees of a building firm)?

      Certainly it is not uncommon for me to be in a private car together with building tools, simply because I am competent to do building work, and do so a a favour to family. I do not earn my living in such a trade.


    3. Joiners, builders, electricians and so forth is what he is referring to. Private individuals are not affected.

  13. "I really am in unknown territory here. "- Junican

    I think that goes for all of us! We NEED more information and I assume from what Bobi/SH has said the FOI's are running...but they of course take about 5 weeks to go through IME.

    Until we know what we're up against then we're all just pissing in the wind. That's the scary thing about's something new, a whole new tactic (and I wonder if it is in response to N2D.Me 's actions).

    But the more things change the more they stay the same. The advice R E C O R D/SOT/NEVER SIGN becomes even more important than before because it looks so far -from what SH has said- that it is possibly the signing of the 'written confession' (that's how UKBA present the Officer's Notebook)gives them the 'just cause' to 'fine' you (I'm saying 'fine' for simplicity's sake).

    *PS I know you know the Record/Sot etc thing by heart, I just try and include it in every comment (as well as a mention of N2D.Me) for those surfing and googling for answers.

    1. By recording the stop/search/interview and not signing their notebook you have removed their primary weapon against shoppers ... the contents of their notebook. Second point is that they have to refrain from verbal intimidation and harassment ... otherwise it's all caught on the recording. In fact, the contents of the notebook now can become a poison chalice to the officer. Not only won't it be verbatim but it will show clearly what they've omitted ... and sometimes added.

      That is of course if you have told them you are recording them :) lf you don't tell them then they are quite likely to return to their usual manner and practices ... and you'd have it all recorded :)

      Some may say that's a little underhand ... oh, wait ... that's what HMRC are doing now. OK then ... game on!

      My preference has been to covertly set the recorder going as soon as l disembark. then, if stopped, l tell them l am recording them so l can record their reaction.

      Seeing as they've AGAIN changed the rules ... l reserve the right to do the same.

  14. My next planned journey to the land of reasonably-priced tobacco isn't until September/October, so maybe this will be sorted by then (or maybe not), and it will probably be via the underground hole so I'll be stopped at Calais, but my reaction if stopped and told to be on my way without my goods will be simple civil disobedience - ie I just won't go!
    I won't cause any trouble, just refuse to leave without my goods, leave it to them to either forcibly eject me or else get the police to do the same, and then I will simply stay where I am put, whether that be outside their office, middle of the carcark or in a police cell, but still refuse to move (but not resisting and allowing them to carry me wherever they will) until my goods are returned or they change it to a criminal matter and make specific, and written, charges.
    O, and I have a Disabled Pass Pass (I'm not disabled, but my doctor applied for one for me while I was on blood pressure tablets and wasn't allowed to drive, but I'll carry the card when travelling by coach for baccy), so I'll play the 'Vulnerable Person' and 'Disability Discrimination Act' cards for all they're worth - ie if the coach goes without me they need to get me back home, and I'll also make damn sure that the missus has my wallet, all cash and credit cards so they'll have to pay for it.
    Quite happy to sit there for hours, I am rather OCD anyway and give me a decent book and I don't care what is going on around me. If they want it to get messy, I'm quite happy to throw mess straight back at them! keep as many goonies tied up and unable to harass other innocents for as long as possible, cost UKBF/UKBA/HMRC (whoever they think they are today) as much as possible to sort their mess out, and then take up a complaint, via my MP, on return, to tie up a few more man-hours and cost a few more quid.

    1. Although we don't recommend it, I've refused to be searched several times. They have to have reasonable suspicion BEFORE you can be questioned or searched.

      One one occasion they gave up and let us go, (SH and I), unmolested. But I have been arrested three times. When the police subsequently arrive, they are always utterly clueless. They assume, as everyone does, that Customs can do what they want. They are no help.

      Nevertheless, I still walked away with my goods after eventually answering questions under protest.

      But its a tricky game, and I won't recommend it to others. Good luck, Anonymous!

  15. @Blocked dwarf,

    What becomes even more important is "your story" R E C O R D/SOT/NEVER SIGN is good advice but its not a one size fits all tip, everyone is an individual and how they peform and the facts and story they provide to UKBA is everything.

    Your story either floats or sinks , the recording and S.O.T does not change facts, dosen't make you honest, it just helps give the impression you are clued up.

    you are exactly right when you say the more things change the more they stay the same.

    No ferries
    no cars
    no unknown traveling companions
    no high risk routes.

    N2D are playing high risk routes, high risk unknown "gang" of travelling companions and a battle mentality where its meet them head on and lock horns.

    This could be fun but absolutely not the best advice for shoppers who could end up being a blue on blue casualty

    Take what you need shoppers, S.O.T, and record and head for an airport and leave the bandit country of sea ports alone.

    Now is probably the best time for years to travel through an airport without seeing UKBA, its queues, queues, get those passport queues sorted out instructions for UKBA.

    UKBA have notched up their defences with a real nasty spiteful tactic, it's going to get nasty and dirty on the front line sea ports , where its high risk for high rewards for smugglers and where shoppers should really avoid like the plauge.

    @anon 9:57

    Take that anger and get rid of it and think about how you are going to convince UKBA you are honest and what facts and story you are going to present to them, sitting on your arse reading a book will be an entertaining 5 minutes for them, it won't get messy they will just deal with you after they have taken the piss out of you. The delay will be caused by UKBA rubberneckers all wanting to see the show.

    1. The Dwarf talks good sense again. This is usually the case.

      Aren't you supposed to be crazy? Just askin'. :-)

    2. The N2D Social Club (separate entity) are proud to use high risk routes with a high risk unknown 'gang' of traveling companions with a battle mentality.
      The high risk route (chunnel) is not only the fastest for the bus its the cheapest.
      The unknown gangs are various groups who are known as the 'general public' who share our views, that's why they joined the club. They will be advised Record/SOT/Don't sign and we will safeguard ourselves and members by keeping copies of SOT's. This safeguards both sides, one tactic used by UKBA is to use travel history, you have 6 Kgs this trip therefore you ALWAYS bring in 6 KGS. We will have the SOT's to prove otherwise even when NOT stopped by UKBA.
      Yes we may well get the odd dishonest pillock on the bus, but hopefully they will be weeded out or re-educated, club policy is we do not condone sales of contraband.
      We are also out there to educate UKBA by making them aware of the limits of their powers and the correct application of regs. (see my last trip thru HULL.)
      Back to the current problem/
      Under Regulation 18 the duty payable will be as follows, and most cases so far appear to be 'bills' for the exact duty, no other 'civil penalty', as some of the cases pre-date the last budget I've listed both 'old' and 'new' duties.

      Cigars old £193.29 /Kg new £208.83 /Kg
      HRT old £151.90 /Kg new £164.11 /Kg
      Pipe old £ 84.98 /Kg new £ 97.81 /Kg
      They do not charge you for the VAT (20% extra)

      if you are stopped and lose the average 6Kg box of HRT you can expect to be hit with a bill for 164.11 x 6 = £984.66

      The stakes have just got a lot higher..

      I disagree with the no ferries/chunnel bit but no cars is a definite, we have to band together, a bus load of clued up 'unknowns' is probably the best defense against the 'dark arts', mutual aid!!

      bobi also sec of the social club

    3. I came back through Zeebrugge/Hull yesterday and they were out in full force ( first time I have seen this ). I was ready, had read through my questions they ask and SOT's at the ready.

      I tend to go every 18month 2years for mine and my partners tobacco supply. I can't travel that often due to work and living up North, it can work out expensive.

      Approaching the end of the queue, visibly setting my phone on record for the P&O man to see, he asked 'Are you traveling alone'. My reply was yes.

      At passport check, the guy asks ( with a goon breathing down my neck ) 'How long have you been abroad for'. Me: 'Overnight'

      Guy: 'Bought any amount of tobacco'
      Me: 'Yes'

      Guy: 'How much'
      Me: 'Within the guidelines for PERSONAL use'

      Guy: (Taken aback) 'How much is that then'?
      Me: '25 packets for PERSONAL use.'

      This is where I'm now going through all my questions in my mind, convinced I'm getting an interrogation.

      Guy: 'When did you last travel'
      Me: '3 weeks ago' ...long pause... (twitching goon) 'Camber Sands'.

      Guy: OK, Thank you.

      Just an insight for any newbies, but haven't got a clue why I never got my friendly interview that day :) lol.

  16. Sorry Payback but you are mistaken. We did take on UKBA full frontal in order to find out what rights shoppers actually had and how to use them. lt's of little use to have theories, they have to be tested and recorded to show others. people don't believe just words ... they have to see and hear it for themselves. We did this ourselves at our OWN risk and nobody else.

    We have NEVER advised anyone to do what we have done.

    Bringing it up to date, we are indeed going to be taking people for their tobacco but we will not be confrontational at all. we are taking such as Normandy veterans, Shopomobilty, RNA etc etc etc. these are the people who smoke but cannot take advantage of the huge savings in the EU. Before they book, we have an in depth talk to them and tell them all the pitfalls and what they should and should not do. We then prepare them for the trip with all the documentation etc they will require.

    lf stopped we shall accompany each and everyone through the interview personally and be at their side. This is their right and UKBA/Border Force cannot refuse it. How do we know this? ... because we've done it and forced the issue ... we tested out the theory. lt doesn't matter how long this takes. This is where the battle is won or lost ... the initial stop and search.

    We will keep records of who's been on the trip and when. They cannot come on EVERY trip we make. We'll look at our records and the decision will be ours and ours alone. This is NOT a smuggling venture.

    ln fact, it's completely opposite and we are doing UKBA/Border Forces job for them. Our passengers won't be going to white van man. We will be within the law and strictly adhere to it. We couldn't even contemplate doing this without our previous documented confrontations with UKBA/Border Force and all the factual evidence gained from them. This went hand in hand with all the FOI's and research that has been done.

    Yes people could go themselves via airports on the hope that reduced staff will mean they don't get stopped ... but can you guarantee that? l don't think so. lf they are stopped then what? Even so, it's short term and we are here for the long haul.

    Doing it individually is fine for such as yourself. We can do the same and l have done for 20 years or so. But what about the people that don't know what happens and the consequences of being stopped unprepared. l have reams of correspondence from such ... and they all had lost their goods! We are doing it to help people take advantage of EU shopping as is their right.

    We are not rushing into this. Everything has to be gone through meticulously and by that l mean all the legislation etc regarding a minibus and social club. The social club is not by any means just for purchasing tobacco abroad, it's there to help communities and groups in any way we can. Take a trip we are doing for ex RAMC and their partners. We are taking them from Hull to the Grimsby RAMC for a night time function. There are 14 of them and need to be there for 7.30 and brought back 11.30 ... cost £5 each. Then there's 15 normandy vets going to Bridlington for the afternoon for a function at a local pub in Bridlington ... cost £3 each. So on and so on.

    By this time next year we'll be millionaires, Rodney. :)

  17. "Your story either floats or sinks , the recording and S.O.T does not change facts, dosen't make you honest, it just helps give the impression you are clued up."-PayBack

    99 % of the time, people's stories will sink them faster than a cast iron alibi does. Oh as an aside, calling it a 'story' probably isn't a good habit to get into as the word carries more than a whiff of 'fiction'. I know the way you mean it but the casual reader perhaps not.

    I would go so far as to say that the last thing a 'normal' shopper should be doing is telling his story. Too many people still think that as long as they are honest, truthful and smile at the nice Officer then nothing will happen to them. They trust in the integrity of those in authority...and a sense of 'fair play'. Then they say something totally innocuous and find themselves walking home sans purchases.

    I've admitted before now that back in the 90's I was a Cottage Industry smuggler and believe me, my story was good... the Customs Men used to help me carry my tobacco to the car. My story had to be good cos I go all 'jigsaw' around uniformed authority if I'm not dealing with them on a daily basis.

    But I realised a couple of years back that the game had changed and despite not being a smuggler anymore but a 'normal' shopper, that my story was not going to 'cut it' anymore. Which is why I came to this site.

    The SOT isn't designed to show the UKBA that we're clued up...oh ok it is...but only in part. The SOT is to STOP the shopper from telling his story. Shoppers need to keep their mouth shut and let the SOT do the talking. It was telling that the last time I was stopped the Officer INSISTED I answer him verbally 'I need to hear you say it' was his retort to my 'its there in the SOT'.

    The UKBA WANT people to tell them their story cos that's where they will find something to twist.

    You're right that one size doesn't fit all and thats why every one of the regulars here at N2D have their own version of the SOT...for example I think Junican has even sent his MP 'Advance Notification'. Infact I'm guessing that that which you call your story is really a 'mental SOT'.

    Having an SOT doesn't make you honest, that's true too but it does impress the officers-as several have stated openly to me (and I have recordings of them saying such). Will a good SOT 'excuse' the 10 KGS of GV in black shrink wrap in your boot? Nope-again you're right there-but anyone who has read and filled out the SOT template from this site probably won't make the mistake of concealing or not declaring in the first place.

  18. It appears the HMRC Officer responsible for the Impact Assessment of the Excise Goods (Holding , Movement and Duty Point ) Regulations 2010 is a Chris Mountford at HMRC HQ in Salford telephone number 0161 827 0362.
    Perhaps you would like to ask how this change in policy can be justified?
    HMRC have promised to review their policy within 3 years from 15 Feb 2010, perhaps now is the time..

    1. Anyone who has been stung by application of Regulation 18, or anyone worried about getting stung by Reg 18.
      Is the application of Regulation 18 proportionate?? What consultation was there with the general public? (none apparently)
      Will HMRC look at and/or review the policy of the application of Reg 18..
      Mr Mountford is the official in charge of the impact study, if you have been impacted or are liable to be impacted let the gentleman know what you think..

    2010 No. 593

    Monitoring & review
    12.1 The European Commission must submit a report to the European Parliament and Council on the EMCS system by 1 April 2013. HMRC will conduct its own review within 3 years and feed any findings to the European Commission.
    12.2 Additionally the European Commission must submit a report on the implementation of the Directive by 1 April 2015.
    13. Contact Chris Mountford at HM Revenue and Customs Tel: 0161 827 0362 email:
    or Nick Sands Tel: 0161 827 0343 email:
    can answer any queries regarding the instrument.

    please see the IMPACT ASSESSMENT


    1. The EU Commission official in charge of complaints about Regulations 13/18 is Michole Wieme in Commissioner Semanta's Office
      If you have been stung by regulation 18 fill in form
      or write letter or e-mail

  20. I would like to make a statement, which is this:

    Any non-smoker who does not bring back from holidays in the EU a quantity of tobacco is stupid. I need to qualify that by saying that he needs only to have friends who enjoy tobacco. The mere fact that he then donates them to friends for a small consideration does not mean that he is engaging in 'commerce'. It is often the case that the Queen receives 'gifts' from visiting Royalty - and responds with 'gifts' of her own.

    I am not pressing this as a 'must do'. I am saying only that 'an exchange of gifts' is reasonable and normal.

    If stopped by Customs, there is a very reasonable statement to be made, which is: "I have friends who smoke. These 10 sleeves of cigarettes are gifts for them. I can prove that I can afford to buy the cigarettes". End of story. Note the importance of "I can prove that I can afford them"

    When I go abroad, I take with me a copy of my bank statements. If I did not have ample funds, I would take a copy of my credit card statement showing my available credit (which is the same thing as having the funds).

    UKBA are thoroughly dishonest. They need to be treated with disdain. They do not deserve any sort of consideration in terms of honesty at all. We make 'honest' statements because we wish to, and not because the UKBA want us to. We do so for our own peace of mind.

    I wrote to my MP telling her that any fags that I buy in the EU are for my own use. I simply asked her to be a witness to that statement. I also wrote the the CEO of the UKBA in similar terms. The posting of both of these letters was 'proven' by 'proof of posting' certificates. Cost? Two first class stamps.

    If, after viewing these documents, UKBA insisted upon me waiting and waiting, then I would not sit silently. I would continuously demand attention and to be allowed to go home with my goods.

    I have been in similar situations before. The simple answer to these problems is to demand to speak to the Chief Exacutive Officer, reagardless of the hour. They do not know how to cope with that demand.

    1. If one accepts any form of consideration for cigs/tobacco this is smuggling in the eyes of UKBA/HMRC. That said we've all had non smoking friends pick up a carton of duty reduced fags on way back from their hols.

      With regard to travelling in ones own vehicle it's something that we do but we don't push the boundaries of credibility especially as we use the chunnel. The former guideline figures did us nicely for our 6 monthly trips so we still buy a similar amount.

      As a 77 year old cancer patient, who wees through his side, my car would, imho, be safe.

      When we went through Coquelles in May we weren't stopped, despite declaring what we were carrying, so not yet had a chance to produce my folder of paperwork.

  21. l was in the position of not being able to buy my baccy abroad simply because l could not afford it. l just didn't have that sort of cash. l was buying my baccy off a man in the pub for £8.50 a pouch. A friend then loaned me the money which l paid him back at £15 a week over 6 months. He's pretty well clued up and recommended this site to me. He drew up a simple agreement for the loan and l took that with me.
    Thanks to him and this site l now have my baccy at £4.40 a pouch and don't use the man in the pub. You'd think Customs should be happy about this.

    l wasn't stopped on my trip and l'll be going again in a few months time. What they going to say to me if l am stopped? Are they going to say l can't afford £15 a week? lol

    1. I take it you are on benefits... In which case you are a prime target for UKBA. Yes they will question your financial circumstances, Regulation 13 paragraph 4 section (i) did you finance the purchase yourself??? If they think you did/could not the goods are gone and with the new application of Regulation 18 a bill for £164 a kilo follows. Next time borrow it off the 'social fund' or credit union ,make sure you can PROVE where you got the money from!!
      My favourite is to say I won it on the horses and then produce a bank statement showing a sizable deposit from Betfair , their faces were a picture..
      Be sensible and insist you cannot afford to travel often because of the cost, as long as you are not too far over the top you should be OK
      RECORD/SOT/and NEVER SIGN, you're best off saying nothing!!!

    2. A simple contract between 2 people is a legal contract and enforceable by law ... and that's a fact. Also a verbal contract has nearly the same merits although l'd advise not to rely on one when faced with UKBA/Border Force. Take a copy of this contract with you and UKBA/Border Force will be hard pushed to condemn it.

      @ Jon ... you are indeed fighting smuggling but it would seem to many that UKBA/Border Force are there specifically to protect "white van man" or the "man in the pub's" trade.

      Use of loans does seem a good way to go. It makes the UKBA/BF's questions about your finances pretty pointless.

  22. Strangely enough, so far, UKBA have never questioned my financials- and I live on Carers Allowance/ benefits as I care full time for my disabled wife.

    However i assume it is just a matter of time until they do so I always carry a copy of a private loan contract-which also includes a paragraph from the Lender stating that he is aware that these monies will be used to finance legitimate Xchannel tobacco shopping BUT that he, the lender, is a non smoker and that the monies are in no way to pay for tobacco goods for himself and that I am not acting as his agent. He also states that he is happy to confirm this on the phone to UKBA etc. I also have in my SOT a copy of the bank statement showing that he paid the loan into my account etc.

    On a slightly separate note, I have been told by DWP that they aren't interested in being informed about day trips to the EU however I do always email them and have a copy of that email in my SOT too.

    It is conceivable that UKBA could turn round to someone on benefits and say 'did you inform DWP of this trip/holiday?' and if the answer is negative then they could claim that you were obviously smuggling otherwise you'd have informed etc etc

    I think, although I keep meaning to check, the rule is you MUST inform Income Support of any trip abroad longer than 14 days and JSA of 28.

  23. Just for Information, Although We won our case and the Judge Sheriff refused to grant the UKBA costs, Although they refunded me compensation for our destroyed goods, They sent my travelling companion a bill for 395 quid for stopping us, I will post a copy of this daft bill on my blog when I get back to Jockoland.

  24. When we were stopped at Coquelles last November ( I hadn't realised advisory amount had reduced) I was asked the following questions.

    Q Do you work? A Hardly as I'm 76 years old.

    Q How do you get your money then? A Have you heard of pensions.

    Q £800 is a lot of money, how can you possibly afford it?

    When I indicated that I found that rather insulting I was told that he could ask any questions he liked.

    As this agent didn't even know that Chunnel uses ANPR at check-in, and people don't need a ticket, my back went up.

    Overall we were stopped for nearly 30 minutes and during that time no other vehicle was stopped and 4 agents just stood round chatting.

    It transpired that I was 2.5 times the age of the jobsworth who stopped us.

  25. This comment has been removed by the author.


"In the eyes of the Tribunal the review letter contained several preconceptions, prejudgments and non-sequiturs"

"the absurdity of this reason is demonstrated by simply stating it"

"We therefore find that Mr Sked misdirected himself as to the Policy in carrying out the review and his decision is therefore one that no reasonable review officer could have arrived at."

... commonly known here at N2D as 'Skeds' ... that is to say these are Judges comments regarding UKBA Review Officer Ian Sked's reasons for rejecting peoples appeals against seizures.

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