Buying goods in another Member State
There are no limits on what private persons can buy and take with them when they travel between EU countries, as long as the products purchased are for personal use and not for resale, with exception of new means of transport. Taxes (VAT and excise) will be included in the price of the products in the Member State of purchase and no further payment of taxes can be due in any other Member State.
Tobacco and alcohol
However, special rules apply in the case of goods subject to excise duty, such as alcoholic beverages and tobacco products. If a private person purchases such products in one Member State and takes them to another Member State, the principle that no excise duty has to be paid in the Member State of destination only applies if the goods are
- for the own use of the traveller and
- transported by himself.
To determine whether these products are for the own use of the traveller, Member States must take account of all the relevant factors. These include:
- The commercial status of the holder of the products and his reasons for holding them;
- The place where the products are located or, if appropriate, the mode of transport used;
- Any document relating to the products;
- The nature of the products;
- The quantity of the products.
As to the last element, Member States may lay down guide levels, solely as a form as evidence, which cannot be lower than the following quantities:
a) Tobacco products
- cigarettes 800 items
- cigarillos (cigars weighing not more than 3 g each) 400 items
- cigars 200 items
- smoking tobacco 1.0 kg
b) Alcoholic beverages
- spirit drinks 10 litres
- intermediate products 20 litres
- wines (including a maximum of 60 litres of sparkling wines) 90 litres
- beers 110 litres
As regards tobacco products, EU countries may limit the number of cigarettes you can bring with you from certain other EU countries which do not yet charge the minimum level of excise duty. This limit cannot be lower than 300 cigarettes. At current stage, Austria, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Slovenia and Sweden apply this lower limit for travellers coming from Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania or Romania.
Travelling within the EU via Switzerland (or other non-EU countries)
If you travel from one EU Member State to another through Switzerland (or another non-EU country), you may carry goods for personal use without border formalities as long as the thresholds set out for the entry into Switzerland/re-entry into the EU are not exceeded. If you carry quantities exceeding those thresholds, declare them when entering Switzerland and when re-entering the EU. In Switzerland you may be requested to provide a financial guarantee which you get back when you leave the country with the goods. On re-entry into the EU you must declare these goods. No duties apply if you can prove that they come from another EU country and are intended for personal use (see article 323 of Regulation (EC) No 2454/93 on page 111).
Buying excise products over the Internet
Do you intend to purchase excise products (e.g. wine, spirits and tobacco products such as cigarettes, etc) over the internet? See the list of frequently asked questions.
New Means of transport
Where new means of transport are purchased in another Member State, special rules apply, and the purchase is taxable in the Member State of registration of the means of transport, rather than the Member State in which it is purchased.
Other information for travellers
The brochure "Travelling in Europe" provides practical information for tourists travelling within the EU. You will find information on documentation, shopping, driving, healthcare, communications, weather, public holidays, cultural events and help if things go wrong.
Travelling by air: baggage controls in the European Union
You may find background information on baggage controls of passengers entering or leaving the EU in this information document.