Just over six weeks before Christmas, HMRC is reminding shoppers of the rules governing tax and duty on goods brought into the UK from the European Union.

Shoppers nipping across the Channel to replenish beers, wines, spirits or tobacco products can bring back an unlimited amount of tobacco and alcohol, provided it is for personal use, which may need to be proved, or as a gift.

Certain conditions must however be met, and travellers are likely to be questioned at the border if they have more than 110 litres of beer, 90 litres of wine, 10 litres of spirits and 800 cigarettes, the agency is warning.

Goods intended as a ‘gifts’ must have no payments attached to them.

“If the person you give the goods to pays you in any way - including reimbursing you for any expenses or payment in kind - then it’s not a gift and the goods may be seized,” said HMRC’s head of customs policy Angela Shephard.

The indicative limits for cigarettes were reduced from 3,200 to 800 in 2011 in order to enable Customs officials to question more people at the border and reduce the amount of tobacco being smuggled into the UK. The move was welcomed by the Association of Convenience Stores.