Frequently Asked Alcohol Questions (FAQs)
The following are just some of the regularly asked questions about REDS and the importation of alcohol generally. If after reading these pages, you still require further information, then please feel free to contact a member of our Imports Team.
Questions about alcohol
I am aware that a REDS agent deals with alcohol, but do I need a REDS agent to clear my goods through Customs?
The answer to this depends upon where your goods have travelled from.
If your goods have come from another Country within the EU, then 'Yes', you will need a REDS agent to assist you with the payment of excise duty and/or VAT to Customs.
If your goods have travelled from outside of the EU (regardless of whether they have passed through other EU Countries, by Road), then you do not need the assistance of a REDS agent. Any Customs broker can assist you with the clearing of your goods through UK Customs.
Regardless of whether you do or do not need a REDS agent, why not contact a member of our Imports Team to find out more about the process and our charges.
Why is it important for me to find out the annual production of the brewery which has produced the beer which I want to import?
You do not necessarily need to know. However, if the beer has been produced by a relatively small brewery or a Microbrewery, then you could be eligible for a reduction in the amount of excise duty which you pay.
If you are not too concerned about the rate of excise duty, then that is fine. You will be charged at the Full rate of beer duty.
If you would like to know more, then please contact a member of our Imports team.
Do I need a licence to import alcohol?
Perhaps the most asked question, and one which we ourselves can and cannot answer.
Do you need a licence to import the drinks? No. However, you may need a licence to store the drinks on your premises and/or to sell the drinks in the UK.
Where to find out more... contact your local council and they should be able to advise you on this.
Who decides which accompanying document type travels with my goods?
This is decided by your supplier.
If your supplier is used to shipping their drinks to other Countries around the EU, then they are likely to be signed up for the EMCS computer system.
Smaller suppliers on the other hand, are more likely to use the paper version, SAAD.
It is not always this way, so discuss this subject with them, and let us know which it is, and we can then explain the procedure.
For more information on the subject of Accompanying Documents, why not click here to visit our dedicated page, or contact our Imports Team.
My Supplier is saying that they need an 'Excise' number... where do I get one?
Often when you are asked for an 'Excise', it will be so that your supplier can raise an e-AD on the EMCS computer system.
If this is your situation, then contact a member of our Imports Team and they will be able to explain when we can provide with one to use.
How long does REDS take to process?
Either a day or two, or upto 2 weeks.
Why the difference? Once again, it depends on the Accompanying Document type. The electronic system (EMCS) only takes a day or 2, whereas the paper version, SAAD, has a much slower turnaround time.
Do my goods need to be delivered into a UK Bonded warehouse?
If you are pre-paying the excise duty, by using our REDS service, then 'No' you don't need to have your goods delivered into Customs Bonded warehouse, but instead can have your goods delivered straight to you.
If, however, you use someone elses service where the excise duty isn't payable until you are ready to sell them, then 'Yes'. These goods will then need to be stored at a Customs-approved 'Wet' bond. The storage charges for this, come at a premium.
Does it matter in which EU Country my drinks are produced?
In most cases, 'No'. Goods produced within the EU, travelling around the EU, all follow the same rules.
However, any drinks produced in a certain Country, which then has those drinks returning back into that Country, will face a certain amount of scutiny.
For example, Fosters lager is brewed in the UK. If you are looking to import Fosters into the UK, then you will certainly by asked 'Why?, surely it is cheaper to buy it here in the UK, where you don't have to pay for transporting it 100's of Miles'.
Is there anyone who can give me specialist advice to help me with my business?
Yes, there are plenty of associations who should be able to help, and here are just a few (in no partiular order):
Do I need a REDS agent if I am travelling to the EU and buying drinks for myself?
No. So long as your goods under within the 'Personal Allowance' limit, then you can just bring the goods with you.
I am not VAT registered and my supplier is telling me that they have to charge me VAT in their Country, and now I read that I have to pay VAT in the UK too, is this right?
Yes, unfortunately it is true.
However, we would suggest that you speak to either your supplier, or the Customs department in the Country where your goods are coming from, to see if it is possible to reclaim the VAT if you provide proof of export?
If you have any other questions about shipping or Customs clearance, then why not contact our Imports Team