Customs team up with DVLA to warn tobacco and alcohol smugglers

Customs are working with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to warn all vehicle owners of the consequences of using their vehicles for smuggling. A hard-hitting Customs leaflet will be sent out to every registered vehicle keeper with the reminder to pay their road fund licence. This leaflet is aimed at those who smuggle tobacco or alcohol across the Channel.

Dawn Primarolo, the Paymaster General said:

“The people who are at the heart of cross-Channel smuggling know exactly what they are doing and we are determined to crack down on them. By making everyone aware of the consequences there will no room for excuses. As well as losing their vehicle and the confiscation of the smuggled goods, it could cost offenders their driving licence, liquor licence, lottery terminal, large fines or a jail sentence of up to seven years.

“Smuggling is an issue that effects us all. These people are criminals who do not care who they sell cigarettes to – they even sell them to children. I would urge anyone who has information on illegally imported tobacco or alcohol to call the Customs Confidential Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”


Vehicle Owners

If smugglers are caught using a light commercial vehicle for smuggling tobacco or alcohol they are unlikely to get it back. This policy was introduced in February 2000.

The current policy for private vehicles is to seize them on the first offence and only restore them for a fee equal to 100% of the revenue evaded or the trade-in value of the vehicle (whichever is the lower).

On a second offence the vehicle is simply confiscated and not returned.

Third Party Owners

When a vehicle is seized and the owner is not present at the time of interception, Customs will want to interview the owners and may confiscate the vehicle permanently or charge a very substantial sum for its return.

This news release and other information about HM Customs & Excise can be found at our website:

Related reading