herald

Thursday 14 December 2017

Dan White: Is booze cruise overseas for party drinks worth it?

Dan answers your financial questions

My daughter has a 21st birthday coming up shortly. My wife and I are throwing a party for her. In order to cut down on costs, I was planning to take my car to France on the ferry and load up with cheap booze. However, one of my friends is adamant that there are restrictions on the amount of booze which I can import from another EU country for personal consumption.

Who is right?

Ned

According to the Revenue Commissioners' website, the maximum amount of duty-paid booze that can be imported by an individual from another EU country for their personal use is 10 litres of spirits (about 14 standard bottles), 90 litres of wine (120 bottles) and 110 litres of beer. You can also import up to 800 cigarettes (40 packets of 20).

However, the legal status of these limits has always been questionable.

While in this country the Revenue Commissioners have generally been restrained in their application of the limits on duty-paid imports from other EU countries, the UK Customs and Excise have been far more zealous.

Unfortunately for them they have lost virtually every time their attempt to impose such limits has been challenged in the courts.

The reality is that limits on the personal imports of duty-paid goods from other EU countries are purely indicative and have absolutely no legal standing. If you can demonstrate that the booze or tobacco is for your personal consumption, and that includes family occasions such as weddings, birthdays and funerals, then you can import as much booze or tobacco as you like.

Last week Josephine Fehilly, the chairman of the Revenue Commissioners, let the cat out of the bag when she told the Dail's Public Accounts Committee that it would be extremely difficult for her organisation to prove in court that somebody bringing booze or tobacco in excess of the limits wasn't importing them for their personal consumption.

While that leaves Ned free to bring in as much booze or tobacco as he likes for his party, he would do well to bear one thing in mind.

Even if he got the ferry to France next month, well after Easter, he would have to shell out serious money, with Irish Ferries quoting €223 for a return trip from Rosslare to Cherbourg for a car and driver on April 15.

Having recently turned 70, I am anxious to leave my affairs in order. In recent weeks I have frequently heard radio advertisements from Postbank for its Over 50s life assurance product. You know the one, "guaranteed acceptance, no medical check-ups" etc.

This seemed to be a very attractive product for my requirements, but what will happen when Postbank closes at the end of the year? If I sign up for one of these policies will I still be covered when Postbank closes?

David

In recent weeks Postbank has been aggressively advertising its Over 50s life assurance policy. This promises guaranteed acceptance with no medical check-up or questions asked for everyone aged between 50 and 75. Depending on the premium you pay this policy will provide life cover of between €1,250 and €65,000. This product is specifically targeted at older people wishing to leave enough money after their deaths to cover such costs as funeral expenses.

But what will happen to these policies when Postbank shuts its doors at the end of the year? Unlike its banking activities, where it was writing business in its own name, Postbank is only acting as a broker for the Over 50s life assurance product, which is in fact underwritten by Bank of Ireland subsidiary New Ireland. This means that, even when Postbank shuffles off this mortal coil, the premium payments will continue to go to New Ireland.

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