Customs has written to Hoverspeed explaining that wine transported under the company’s new home delivery service is liable to UK duty and to forfeiture, with immediate effect.

The company has been advised to withdraw the scheme. No action will be taken against consignments already delivered.

This will help protect UK businesses from unfair competition.

Hoverspeed recently announced the launch of a home delivery service for wine purchased by its passengers at Hoverspeed stores in Calais and Ostend. The company charges a fee for this service.

Travellers may obtain wine duty and VAT paid in another member State and transport their purchases back to the UK, provided it is for their personal use. They must accompany their purchases and must not use them for any commercial purpose. If these requirements are met they will not have to pay UK taxes.

However the wine may be seized by Customs if it is held for a commercial purpose. It does not matter whether the wine is held by the traveller who imported it or by someone else. Wine is regarded as being held for a commercial purpose if it is delivered or held for delivery by a trader.

The Hoverspeed scheme involves the company, or its agent, holding the wine for delivery in the UK. This is a commercial purpose. The wine is therefore liable to forfeiture and UK tax is payable.

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