Goods returned to export shops by passengers (Excise information sheet 1)

Find out about the law and policy on export shop operators accepting returns of excise goods previously sold to entitled passengers.


Policy has been asked by UK Border Force (UKBF) to re-iterate the law and policy on export shop operators accepting returns of excise goods previously sold to entitled passengers.

Excise goods within the export shop regime are held in duty suspension. When the excise goods are supplied to an entitled passenger, they’re supplied duty-free subject to the conditions of that relief. The condition of relief from duty is that the passenger must present to the shop operator, before the sale is made, a transport document for a voyage or flight to a destination outside the territory of the EU, and travel with the goods to that destination.

If that entitled passenger fails to export the goods outside of the UK, that passenger is liable, in all instances, to pay the Excise Duty and other taxes.

HMRC action

Excise policy have become aware of an increasing number of occasions where passengers have had to return ‘land-side’ and have not been able to board their designated flight. In these cases the passengers must be presented to UKBF where they’ll be asked to pay any UK Excise Duty and other charges on goods they’ve bought from the export shops.

Passengers and UKBF officers have asked us whether the excise goods can be returned to the export shop to get a refund, and the answer is no.

The excise goods (export shop) regulations provide that an Excise Duty point occurs if an entitled passenger fails to leave the territory of the UK with the goods supplied to them by the export shop operator. The passenger is liable to pay the duty at the Excise Duty point.

The regulations, in line with the EU Directive on the general arrangements for Excise Duty, do not provide for goods to be returned to a duty suspension arrangement once the goods have left such an arrangement either in the course of release for consumption or under a relief of duty.

Action to be taken

If a passenger asks to return excise goods previously supplied to them as an entitled passenger, export shop operators are advised that this request does not waive the Excise Duty point nor that passenger’s liability to pay Excise Duty.

Additionally, shop operators should be aware that excise goods supplied under the conditions of a duty relief cannot be returned to the duty suspension regime.

Note: This information does not apply to goods supplied to passengers undertaking flights within the UK as these goods are UK duty paid at the time they are supplied to the passengers.


For further information about this excise information sheet, contact:

Excise Holding and Movement Policy Team
HM Revenue and Customs
3rd Floor West, Ralli Quays
3 Stanley Street
M60 9LA


For general excise enquiries, call the Excise Helpline.

Your Charter explains what you can expect from HMRC and what they expect from you.

Published 4 April 2017