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The Tobacco Run: Cheap Tobacco/Cigarettes

Time: 06:30hrs

Date: 07/02/2009

Place: London

Mission: To stop the British Government ripping me off!

This is the Tobacco Run

The Target

The Target

For those of you that know of the Tobacco Run its a god send, For those that don’t read on

What is the Tobacco Run? The Tobacco Run is a day trip to a town called Adinkerke in Belgium.

What does it involve? It involves getting a coach to Adinkerke Via a ferry to Calais France.

Why? Cheap Tobacco, Cigarettes, Wine, Beer, Chocolates, etc……..

The Story:

I am a smoker, regretfully I smoke quite a lot, I will stop sometime but at the moment I am still a smoker.

I smoke Golden Virginia Tobacco which costs in the UK at the moment just under £13.00 (im not too sure coz I wont buy it) for a 50gm pouch.

The same 50gm pouch of Golden Virginia in Adinkerke costs £4.50, thats just over a third of what it costs in the UK.

Why such a price difference you may ask, Its because the British Government has decided to lump all us smokers with an unreasonable amount of Tax/duty on our nicotine products.

Now, fair enough, I understand that we have to pay tax/duty on our stuff (I understand it but don’t agree with it), What I don’t understand is how a product that is made in the UK sell for a third of the price (tax/duty included) in a different country than it can in its country of origin!

So I decided to save myself a few quid (approx £1040 per year) and go on the Tobacco Run.

First  I had to Google a few key words before I found a company close enough for me to get to a pick up point (this truly was the hardest part of the whole mission)

I finally came across a coach company called Excalibur who offer shoping day trips along with other reasonably priced excursions.

I gave them a quick ring and booked my spot on the Calais shopping trip for the coming Saturday morning, £30 is all this trip would cost me, now im not a wealthy man but £30 was a bargain when you think that you could do a months shopping (food, consumables, etc…) on this trip and save yourself £100s, I bought 28 bottles of wine at £1.20 each which costs in the UK £3.99 each, so if I took my £30 coach fair out of the savings I made with this buy alone it would still be a saving of £36, Im not an accountant or anything but it makes sense to me! I know that these trips are a money savers dream!

Before my trip I did my homework to find out what I could and could not bring back and I found this in  on a Heathrow Airport website:

Duty Free Allowance / Tax Free Allowance

When travelling from the EU to the UK you do not have to pay any tax or duty on goods you have bought in another EU country as long as tax was included in the price when you purchased the items, the items are for your own use, and have been transported to the UK by you. This includes gifts, but does not include any item that is intended to be used as payment or to be resold.

If you bring back large quantities of alcohol or tobacco, a Customs Officer is more likely to ask about the purposes for which you hold the goods. This will most likely be the case if you appear at the airport with more than:

  • 3200 cigarettes
  • 400 cigarillos
  • 200 cigars
  • 3 kg of smoking tobacco
  • 110 litres of beer
  • 10 litres of spirits
  • 90 litres of wine
  • 20 litres of fortified wine e.g. port or sherry

Needless to say I had to raid my savings once I saw this, One point to make here: I thought it was one or the other (e.g Tobacco or Cigarettes)  but its not, You can actually purchase the amount of everything stated e.g 3kg (60 pouch’s) of Tobacco AND 3200 (16×200) Cigarettes! which is great for me as I am an everyday Tobacco smoker but always have a 20 box of B&H on me for smoking when on the move or busy (when I don’t have time to roll).

I read that Its also advisable to bring sterling cash (for Adinkerke) but as the exchange rate is practically even at the moment, having sterling cash didnt make a difference.

06:30hrs Saturday: I wait at  my pick up point for the coach, It arrives about 06:45, I hop on say hello all and pick my seat for the trip.

After a few more pick ups the coach heads for Dover, I quite surprised and impressed by Excalibur coachs as it was air conditioned, had a toilet, very very comfortable and even had a TV! it was also full of friendly and helpful people.

at Dover we borded the ferry for the 09:25 crossing, had breakfast, arsed around a lot and got some duty free (only aftershave). NB: Tobacco in the duty free is set at the same price it is in france which was approx £78 for 500gm (10x50gm) of GV, even though this is just over half the price you would pay in the UK it is no where close to the price (£45 for 500gm/10x50gm) you would pay in Adinkerke.

The crossing took a little over an hour and once we exited the boat we where on our way.

10mins later we pulled into a sort of shopping warehouse in Calais, we where given half an hour (more than enough time) to have a stroll around and get some cheap Wine, Beer, Consumibles ……etc  you could do your monthly shopping here with ease.

We then headed to Cite Europe which is a great big fuck off shopping centre which has everything you can think in there including H&M, Zara, ToysRus, etc…… but is a lot cheaper than in the UK

You get about 4hrs to shop around there or you can stay on the coach and head for Adinkerke which I did!

About 45mins later we reached Adinkerke which is a town just over the French border into Belgium, we got about 1hr 30 mins to have a stroll around Adinkerke.

Now Adinkerke is not a big town, I would call it a small village I saw probably 15 shops in Adinkerke and 13 of them where Tobacco shops!

So down to business! There was no point in going to all the shop’s as the price difference between the was nothing if anything so I popped into The Real Tobacco Pub which is a smallish pub with ajoining tobacco shop, I picked up a current price list (which I didnt need but was just been nosey) and started to scan the price’s, you could also buy chocolates (Belgiums finest) and drink here all discounted compared to the UK. Current price lists can be found here

So I got my 60 pouch’s of Golden Virginia for a grand total of £270 (which is nothing compared to UK) they gave me a token which I then exchanged for a drink at the bar, after about half an hour and a big grin on my face I decided to get some chocolates so I strolled about 2mins down the road and found  P & J which is a chocolate factory as well as a tobacco shop, I stocked up on a years supply of chocolate and made my way back to the coach.

From Adinkerke we headed back to Calais stopping at a Wine&Beer warehouse along the way where you can get named brands at a third of the price!

We then pick up any shoppers at Cite Europe and headed for the Ferry.

All in all we had about 6hrs in France and Belgium and I got dropped off at my pick up point at about 20:45hrs.

Moral of the story: For the sake of £30 and a Saturday I had saved myself in the region of £700 and that was only on tobacco, drink and chocolates!

Imagine what you could save doing your grocery, cloths or toy shopping!!!!!

My suggestion: Get off your arse, book a shopping day trip with Excalibur and start saving some money!!!!


February 9, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. An excellent, informative read from the tabacco runner, i am planning to go for the first time myself, shams i cant contact you we could go together, come back with two smiles instead of one Dawn

    Comment by Dawn | February 20, 2009 | Reply

  2. Hi Dawn
    Im happy you enjoyed my blog, The trip is well worth going on especially if your a smoker or drinker.

    Comment by redpox1st | February 21, 2009 | Reply

  3. sorry my english but i want that yo now that meny of the paquets of golde virginia is not good make well about the closing plastic inside some times is open and i dificult to close after and i see tha is a bad closed make from factory and the tacacco lossed becouse is not so good if is open .thanks very much i love golden virginia

    Comment by guillermo fernandez | March 29, 2009 | Reply

    • Hi Guillermo
      I know what you mean, I used to buy my tobacco from Spain and many of the packets were not sealed properly and would dry out before you opened them, but the Tobacco I have bought from Belgium does not seem to have this problem, all the packets I have opened so far have been perfectly fresh but thanks for the heads up anyway.

      Comment by redpox1st | March 30, 2009 | Reply

  4. Great Blog! have just rung excalibur and got the details – very handy pick up points for me being from lewisham. Am looking forward to going in next couple of weeks ( hope I dont get any dodgy baccy!) Thanks

    Comment by paul comerford | April 9, 2009 | Reply

    • Glad I could be of help, dont forget to get some cheap drink while your there, its well worth the trip

      Comment by redpox1st | April 10, 2009 | Reply

  5. I found the cheap run to Adinkerke in Belgium a year ago. I smoke drum and about a box a year (a box is 12 cartoons 120 pouches)

    This costs me today £496 instead of the Uk price of £1548. I take the ferry. Return for 2 people and a car at the weekend is normally 19£ on special. Use P&O and use the word “sale” in the promo code box normally gets u £9.50 each way 2 people and a car.

    Its a good day out get some cheap wine while ur there.

    Any one that smokes in the UK and buys there should be taken out and shot.

    Its simple u get in the car u drive u buy u drive back takes 8 hours.

    Comment by Mr Andy Smoke to much | May 8, 2009 | Reply

  6. WOW.. Thank’s very much for the information.Including all links, Great work. I have long been looking for somewhere that I could get some decent priced tobacco on a day trip, as I am usually only able to stock up on my anual holiday to Ibiza. Golden Virginia is currently 35 Euros for for 500grm which is good, although it cost a lot more for flight and accomodation. This day trip is great news. I have just checked out the Real tobacco Pub and the prices for G.V are now even less than you mentioned at £3.70 and 4.50 Euros,50grm Not bad at all, just hope I can arrange a trip from the south coast. Many Thank’s

    Comment by Fredrick | July 1, 2009 | Reply

  7. hi im going for the first time in september 2009 im going via the tunnel driving any tips would be a great help never been before so aint got a clue what im doing


    Comment by adrian rigby | July 13, 2009 | Reply

    • Hi Adrian have a look at this its pretty much a straight motorway trip from Calais and unless your used to driving on the other side of the road make sure you take roundabouts slowly as it can get confusing, Also to drive on the motor way in France you must have certain things like a high visibility vest in the boot, have a look at this I hope this helps

      Comment by redpox1st | July 13, 2009 | Reply

      • thank you so much will look

        Comment by adrian rigby | July 13, 2009

  8. i would like some directions to buy all the cheap goodys please

    Comment by adrian rigby | July 13, 2009 | Reply

  9. Hi can you also buy clips of B&H and mallboro cigs?? and if so how much? plss

    Comment by Chris Hollywood | October 29, 2009 | Reply

  10. Aup mate do u now any cheap trips from Nottingham to Belgium skills is doing a 3 day one for £85 which int bad but £30 a lot betta and how much did it cost for 3kg cheers

    Comment by Simo | September 1, 2010 | Reply

    • Wouldn’t have a clue pal, I think it was about £205 for the 3kgs

      Comment by redpox1st | September 1, 2010 | Reply

  11. Nice one mate

    Comment by Simo | September 2, 2010 | Reply

  12. Aup pal just a fast thing wot was the customs like did u have to take ur bag and put it few a scanner like a airport? Cheers

    Comment by Simo | September 2, 2010 | Reply

    • nope, sometimes they stop the bus other times they dont, ive been through 5 times and the bus has never been stopped. Dont know what happens if they do though.

      Comment by redpox1st | September 3, 2010 | Reply

  13. Fantastic load of brill info, been thinking about doing this for a while, thing is i live in Wales, gonna have a look at excaliber site now, thanks for the info, Gaz….

    Comment by Gaz Lloyd | November 2, 2010 | Reply

    • did you find any trips going from wales near newport

      Comment by andy.d | November 1, 2011 | Reply

  14. Hi,

    How much are you allowed to bring back on a coach, what are their restrictions on weight/amount? (not customs limits but physical coach space limits)

    Great article.


    Comment by Pete | November 17, 2010 | Reply

    • Hi Pete as long as you really don’t take the piss there isn’t really a limit, each time I go I bring back about 90 bottles of wine which is about 15 boxes and I’ve seen others bring a hell of a lot more without any problem with space

      Comment by redpox1st | November 18, 2010 | Reply

  15. i went over last year in May brought back 100 pkts of golden virginia got stopped by customs car swabbed for drugs kept an hour kept ny tobacco would i do it again DAMM RITE next month

    Comment by DEREK | March 19, 2011 | Reply

  16. done this trip yesterday (30/4/2010) by car only £25 for day return ferry and so easy to find once your there. golden virginia is currently £47 for 10x50g pouches !!! well worth the trip a good day out. brought back the full amount of tobacco and ciggarettes and had no problems when french and english customs had a look in the boot 🙂

    Comment by mike | May 1, 2011 | Reply

  17. Hi ive been doing this in my own car for years, first france then belgium after france whacked the tobacco up, may i also suggest if your not fussy what you smoke you change to Tabs Tobacco, which can easily be rolled, and often works out to less than £3 for 50g.

    Comment by j hardy | June 27, 2011 | Reply

    • ohh look out the new rip off is in adinkirke if you want golden virginia per pak of ten you have to i mean have to buy one sleave of sigs ??????
      i just been tday and nearly all of the real tobacco and one stop shops are ripping us off
      so 18 packs of ten golden means you gotta buy 18 sleaves of ciggs ???? basterds
      however oppisite the real tobacco xl is a small shop which refuses to give in to this demand and will sell you what you want with no ciggs hope this helps all
      my e mail is for more info 24 aug 2011

      Comment by paul1e | August 25, 2011 | Reply

      • hi paul,
        talking abuot ripp off bastards, what about our nice kind government now, they hae only gone and slashed the allowances so its not worth going 800 cigs and one kg of tobacco. they didnt tell us this on the news. its right what every one is saying this government only tell you what they want you to know.

        Comment by Tony | October 13, 2011

  18. Hi

    May i say this is a brilliant thread!!

    I would like to ask a few questions if I may and as I am not a regular here would you be able to reply to this via email to (thanks)

    I am considering doing a trip to belguim however looking at the prices of cigarettes (not tobacco) they do not seem to be very cheap considering some people sell 200 packets for £30/£35.

    Also just wondered what is the cheapest cigarette brand that you can buy out there (if you can remember)

    Many thanks in advance for your help.

    Comment by Ryan | September 13, 2011 | Reply

  19. NEW from 1st October 2011. TOBACCO guidlines for personal use – 800 cigarettes (was 3,200), 200 cigars, 400 cigarillos, 1 Kg smoking tobacco (was3 Kg).

    the bastards

    Comment by dave | October 12, 2011 | Reply

    • just be careful now what you bring back. dave

      Comment by dave | October 12, 2011 | Reply

  20. Some of you are misinformed. The new ‘allowances’ aren’t allowances at all. IT IS A (probably illegal) GUIDELINE that’s all. You can LEGALLY still bring back as much as you like as long as it for your own use or as presents for friends.


    Go here for advice and NEVER NEVER NEVER take your own car.

    Comment by SBC | October 19, 2011 | Reply

  21. just found this blog, has anybody drove recently to belgium & how much have you bought back cheers Alistair.

    Comment by Alistair | February 27, 2012 | Reply

  22. could somebody send me a link to a bus day-trip to belgium website please? i cant seem to find one.

    Comment by George | July 9, 2012 | Reply

  23. Does anybody know the price of Springfield tobacco in belgium

    Comment by Kate | October 8, 2012 | Reply

  24. Hi, I want to go to Ardinkerke but I live in Oxford do you know of any companies that pick up anywhere close to oxford or in the south. Also do you think any companies would allow you to meet them at Dover and get on there if there are no local pick up points? I really want to go but don’t fancy driving abroad.


    Comment by Nath Arnold | November 23, 2012 | Reply

    • Hi Nate, yes there have been a couple of times on my travels that the company picked up people at the port. Give them a ring.

      Comment by redpox1st | November 23, 2012 | Reply


      They are the biggest tobacco suppliers in Adinkerke and they list coach companies on their webpage. But Nath, I can only urge to go read first before you go…IFyou want to bring back more than the 1kg guideline. You need to PROVE your 1kg+ is for your own use.

      I’m off to Adinkerke in a couple of weeks and I’m documenting everything I having to do beforehand here

      Comment by normalforcromer | November 23, 2012 | Reply

  25. phoned excalibar today, most disappointed, said they are not doing the trip to adinkirke any more.anyone know of any other LONDON company that does the trip?

    Comment by jim curran | December 10, 2012 | Reply

  26. I am off on a drive to Belguium this week and I am travelling from Northants in the midlands to Dover / Calais and then the short drive to Adinkerke…..
    I was just wondering if anyone would be interested in joining me on this trip that lives close by or on the way etc…..
    Feel free to contact me by email if your interested

    Cheers for the info and HAPPY SAVINGS 🙂

    Comment by Adam | December 16, 2012 | Reply

  27. Ur blog post, Motorized Shades “The Tobacco Run: Cheap Tobacco/Cigarettes Redpox1sts Weblog” was in fact worthy of commenting down here in the comment section!
    Basically needed to point out you did a wonderful job.

    Thanks for the post -Wendy

    Comment by Gidget | February 28, 2013 | Reply

  28. Your allowances are no longer current. 2013 Within EU you are allowed 1kg tobacco and 800 cigarettes

    Comment by Baccy run | April 18, 2013 | Reply

  29. 2013 Allownaces Outside of the EU 200 cigarettes or 250g tobacco.

    Comment by Baccy run | April 18, 2013 | Reply

    • You are incorrect. Inside the EU they are NOT “allowances” but merely guidelines and have no force in law. You can bring back as much tobacco from an EU country as you wish -over on we all commonly bring back 5kg + a person from Belgium (often many more kilos than that!). The correct term for the “allowances” is “Minimum Indicative levels” and simply means that if you bring back more than 1kg of baccy then it is highly likely that you will have to PROVE to Customs that it is for your own use.

      Please don’t refer to them as ‘allowances’ as this gives the wrong impression and makes shoppers think they aren’t allowed to exercise their right to buy as much as they want in the EU

      Comment by normalforcromer | April 18, 2013 | Reply

      • I apologise for using the incorect termanology. I will reger to allowancws within the EU as “Minimum Indicative levels” in the future.

        Comment by Baccy run | April 18, 2013

  30. Travel star European do coach trips from the midlands and do motorway service pick ups from the M6 M1 and M25. Try them

    Comment by George Derby | April 18, 2013 | Reply

  31. Click on our link for April 2013 latest tobacco and cigarette prices across Europe. Current examples include £5.05 for 50g Amber Leaf and £36.50 for 200 JPS cigarettes in Adinkerke Belgium.

    Comment by Latest Tobaccoprices | April 18, 2013 | Reply

    • The advice given at the link above to is just plain wrong and would be funny if it wasn’t dangerous. About the only good advice they give to shoppers is a link to a N2D tip leaflet ! They have absolutely no idea about getting seized goods returned, about submitting a Notice Of Claim, and nor do they explain to shoppers about using a Statement of Truth nor about RECORDING the UKBF (anyone who shops without an audio recorder is a fool and will lose their baccy.).

      Comment by normalforcromer | April 22, 2013 | Reply

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