Press release

Over 20 million Brits are potential smugglers

Monday 28 April 2008

  • 93% don't know the correct value of goods allowed into the EU
  • Only a quarter (26%) are aware of which products are illegal / restricted to import into the EU
  • Over one in ten (11%) have broken the law by smuggling cigarettes

Research by Saga Travel Insurance* has revealed a whopping 24 million British travelers could be inadvertently smuggling goods on their return from holidays and trips outside the EU. Cigarettes, alcohol and clothing over the allowed expenditure limit, top the list of contraband with men most likely to consciously break import laws.

Over 30 million** British adults travel outside the EU at least once every five years and three quarters (74%), or over 24 million of them are unaware of what products are restricted or are illegal to bring back into the country. In fact, it seems that those who travel regularly are even less able to correctly identity which products are regulated, with over four fifths (81%) of people who go outside the EU two or more times a year unable to do this.

One of the most misunderstood import restrictions is the maximum value of £145 worth of clothes or other non-excise goods allowed to be brought back into the EU. The research revealed that 93% of people could not correctly identify this limit, with two thirds (61%) not sure about what the limit was and a further quarter (24%) believing it to be higher than it actually is. This ignorance of import levels is likely to sting holidaymakers planning on visiting the US and making the most of the weak dollar. The current limit was set in 2006*** but the law seems to have gone unnoticed by much of the UK’s holidaying population.

The research revealed that people are far more savvy about import laws regarding cigarettes, with over a third (37%) correctly identifying the limit at £200 per person. Interestingly though, over one in ten (11%) have admitted to breaking this law and smuggling in more than what they know to be the permissible limit. Men were revealed to be twice as likely as women to knowingly smuggle cigarettes (15% of men vs 7% of women admitting to doing so).

For further information regarding duty free limits and other handy travel tips, please call 0800 096 4556 and request a copy of Saga Travel Insurance’s Essential travel guide. Or visit


Editors for Notes-

*Analysis carried out by Opinium Research on an online poll of 2,032 British adults between 6th and 10th April 2008.

**Based on population projections by the Office for National Statistics 2008 68% of UK population travel outside the EU more than once every 5 years = (48,315,000 UK Adult Population) x 0.68 = 32.8 million


For further press information please contact the Saga Press Office on: 01303 771529.



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