GoCompare uses cookies. By using the website you agree with our use of cookies. Continue Find out how to manage cookies and view our policy here

1 in 5 UK holidaymakers admit to smuggling!

30 April 2014

200 years after Jamaica Inn, Brits are still concealing fags, booze and even live animals from Customs officials.

  • 1 in 5 holidaymakers admit to knowingly smuggling goods through 'Nothing to Declare'
  • Men are twice as likely to smuggle than women
  • Three quarters walked through unchallenged by officials when they last smuggled
  • Pensioners are three times more likely to get away with it than youngsters

Following the BBC's dramatization of Daphne du Maurier's 'Jamaica Inn', the classic tale of smuggling, wrecking and piracy, new research from Gocompare.com Travel Insurance has found that the UK is still a nation of smugglers.

According to the survey, carried out amongst over 1300 UK adults in March this year, 1 in 5 holidaymakers have chosen to walk through the 'Nothing to Declare' aisle at customs knowing full well they were carrying more than their duty free allowance or were concealing illegal or controlled goods and substances.

Those most likely to try their luck in outwitting customs officials were aged 25 to 34 and male smugglers outnumber women smugglers by 2 to 1.

The goods most frequently smuggled by UK holidaymakers include cigarettes and alcohol but other frequently concealed goods include perfume, marijuana, other controlled drugs, food stuffs, weapons and even live animals.

Goods most smuggled by UK holidaymakers:








Cigars and other tobacco products



Perfume and after-shave



Electronic gadgets



Controlled foods such as fruit, vegetables and meat products






Marijuana and other controlled drugs



Live plants



Live animals








75% of holidaymakers walked straight through Customs unchallenged the last time they were carrying contraband and the research found that older travellers are far more likely to get away with smuggling than youngsters.

27% of 18 to 24 year olds walked through Customs unchallenged on the last occasion they had something to hide compared to 88% of 55 to 64 year olds and 100% of over 65's. Under 1 in 10 (9%) of the smugglers were stopped, searched and caught but nearly one third (32%) of those were 18 to 24 year olds. Over half (52%) of the smugglers in the survey said they'd be likely to do it again.

Caroline Lloyd from Gocompare.com Travel Insurance commented: "Understanding what you can and can't take through customs can be a complicated business but to learn that 1 in 5 UK holidaymakers had knowingly smuggled cigarettes, alcohol and other goods through customs was a shock.

"Although most holidaymakers caught out by customs officials either paid the duty, had their goods confiscated or received a caution, more serious smuggling can obviously lead to criminal charges which could make it difficult to travel to other countries in the future."

Gocompare.com have prepared a guide to (legal) holiday packing:   http://www.gocompare.com/travel-insurance/holiday-packing-tips/


Notes to editors

On 17th March 2014, Gocompare.com conducted an online survey among 1,355 randomly selected British adults aged 18+ who are Springboard UK panelists. The margin of error-which measures sampling variability-is +/- 2.2, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current social grade, age, gender and region data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of Great Britain. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to cell rounding.