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Moving abroad with a wine collection

Relocating abroad from the UK can be difficult enough, but what if you want to take your wine collection with you? Anthony Rose explains the process involved. Plus a step-by-step guide to insuring your wine.

We are planning to move from the UK to Italy this summer, and we have an extensive wine collection we’d like to take with us. In light of the difficulties caused by Brexit, can you advise?

Francesca Short, by email

It is true that things are different now that the UK has left the EU; however, it is still possible to do this. Seek the advice of specialist alcohol transporters who have experience of what’s required, post-Brexit. If moving to Italy, you may for instance need to acquire a codice fiscale Italian personal tax registration number.

As David Richardson from the Wine & Spirit Trade Association points out, the good news is that Italian excise duty on wine is nil, but the wines may be subject to Italian import duty (€32/100 litres) and possibly Italian VAT at 22%. This depends on the country of origin of each wine and how long it has been in the UK. There are some exemptions on the movement of personal goods if you’re moving for business or retirement, but they may not apply to wine.

In the case of the wine that’s UK duty paid, it’s basically a removals issue. The transporter would need a declaration that the wines being brought in are for personal consumption with a full list of the wines and their value. You might also want to claim drawback of the UK excise duty. There are a number of freight forwarders or customs consultants who specialise in beverage alcohol, some of whom are members of the WSTA.

The small part of the stock in bond could be transported under duty suspense, using the UK and EU EMCS systems. Those wines would also be subject to Italian import duty (€32/100 litres) and Italian VAT at 22%, as described above, upon release from duty suspense in Italy.

All in all, as Richardson points out, not entirely tongue in cheek, given the likely costs and hassle of this move, it might be more cost effective (and far less stressful, with no risks of breakages, loss, theft or deterioration along the way) to sell the collection in the UK and use the proceeds to create a new one in Italy.

How to… Insure your wine collection

By Mark O’Halleron

A surprising proportion of wine lovers have inadequate insurance for their collection. We pass on a few tips to ensure your prized bottles are fully covered.

1. Upgrade the essentials ‘A standard household policy will likely have a built-in limit for wine, sometimes as low as £5,000,’ says Suzi Rackley, client director at insurance brokers Aston Lark. ‘Damage caused by temperature or humidity change [even resulting from faulty equipment or power outage] is generally excluded.’ Such events lie behind many claims but, crucially, are not covered by home insurance.

2. Scheduling or blanket? ‘You may wish to insure individual high-value bottles separately, a process traditionally called scheduling,’ says Horton Group insurance. ‘Blanket coverage is a catch-all approach; you have an aggregate amount of coverage which is associated with a per-bottle limit. Blanket insurance can be more attractive for consumable wines because you don’t necessarily have to notify your broker every time you buy, sell, or enjoy a bottle.’

3. Keep your finger on the pulse Many policies allow for market movement; make sure yours is one of them. And keep up to date with the relevant current pricing: ‘The value of wine fluctuates, in the same way that it would for a piece or art or jewellery,’ says Rackley. ‘Therefore, it is important to understand what it would cost to replace.’

4. Off-site doesn’t equal zero risk Policies offered by professional storage facilities don’t equate to watertight insurance. Not all policies are born equal, so check the small print – who is responsible for covering your wines’ transport? Keep abreast of any changes to the terms and conditions.

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