Entering the EU
Customs and tax allowances for travellers
If you enter the EU from a non-EU country, goods having no commercial character in your personal luggage can be imported free of customs duties, VAT and excise duties within the following limits:
Each Member State decides on the limit applicable:
* Each amount represents 100% of the total allowance for tobacco products and any combination of those products must not exceed 100%. Example: 100 cigarettes + 50 cigarillos = total allowance
Alcoholic beverages (a)
Other goods (including perfume, coffee, tea, electronic devices etc.)(a)
The value on an individual item may not be split up.
The value of personal luggage (i.e. suitcases) and medicinal products for the personal needs of the traveller do not count.
Member States may reduce the above limits to € 150 for travellers under 15 years.
In this context, imports are regarded as having no commercial character if they take place occasionally and consist of goods for the personal or family use of the travellers, or of goods intended as presents.
The limits laid down in the table above also apply if you come from
- Canary Islands,
- Channel Islands,
- French Overseas Departments
- Aland Islands
- Ceuta and Melilla
- other territories where VAT and EU excise provisions do not apply.
EU legislation concerning allowances for travellers can be found in Council Directive 2007/74/EC of December 2007 (as far as VAT and excise duties are concerned) and in article 41 of Regulation 1186/2009 as far as customs duties are concerned.
In spite of these rules the importation of goods may be restricted or prohibited in accordance with specific Community and or national legislation.
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.
If you are resident in the European Union, then you should not in principle be driving a hired vehicle with non-EU registration plates in the EU without having paid the applicable customs duties and taxes.
However, there are a few exceptions to this rule:
- when the vehicle is hired in a country outside the EU, such as Switzerland, in order to, within 3 weeks, return to your place of residence in the EU;
- when the vehicle is rehired in the EU in order to leave the EU territory within 3 weeks.
If you plan to rent a vehicle in a non-EU country (e.g. Switzerland) and drive it to visit or holiday in a country in the EU (e.g. France, Germany, Austria or Italy), make sure you inform the car rental company in advance and request to receive a vehicle with EU registration plates.
There are also other situations in which EU residents are exceptionally allowed driving non-EU registered vehicles, such as:
- when the vehicle is used for private purposes and on an occasional basis, at the request of the owner of the vehicle, who is also in the EU at the time of use of the vehicle;
- when the vehicle is provided to a EU cross-border worker by his/her employer based in a country outside the EU for journeys to and from the workplace.
For complete information on all rules and exceptions, please see Articles 212-216 of the Commission Delegated Regulation No 2015/2446
New rules for import in travellers' personal luggage
New rules on duty and tax free imports entered into force on 1 December 2008. See Council Directive 2007/74/EC of 20 December 2007 and Council Regulation 274/2008 of 17 March 2008 , which since 1 January 2010 has been replaced by Council Regulation 1186/2009 of 16 November 2009 . See also the press release (IP/08/1845 ).
Travellers entering the EU from other countries now benefit from increased savings when importing goods into the European Union in their personal luggage. Member States have also reduced administrative burdens by renouncing the collection of relatively small amounts of duty. Travellers' allowances are the monetary thresholds or the quantitative limits under which travellers entering the EU from third countries are allowed to import duty and tax free in their personal luggage.
The rules in force since 1 December 2008 have
- increased the current monetary threshold from €175 to €430 for air and sea travellers and to €300 for land and inland waterways travellers; the lower threshold for the latter takes account of the special situation of Member States that have land borders with countries where prices are significantly lower than in the EU;
- abolished the quantitative limits on perfume, eau de toilette, coffee and tea (which means that such items now come under the monetary threshold);
- increased the quantitative limit for still wine from 2 to 4 litres;
- introduced a quantitative limit of 16 litres on beer imports (only for VAT and excise duties given that beer is customs free);
- given Member States the option of reducing the quantitative limits on tobacco products (e.g. for cigarettes: from 200 to 40) in support of health policies.
As an example, an air traveller arriving in the EU from a non EU country could import 200 cigarettes duty and tax free, 1 litre of spirits, 4 litres of wine, 16 litres of beer and €430 of other goods (toys, perfume, electronic devices, etc). Taxes and customs duties will be applied on the value of goods exceeding those limits. However, the value of an individual item may not be split up.
Restrictions of particular interest to international passengers
1. Products of animal origin
Apart from some exceptions the Community rules do not allow the importation of meat, meat products, milk and milk products by travellers. Clearer EU rules are in force as from 1 May 2009.
Two posters advertising the rules on personal imports of meat and milk into the EU are available in 35 languages.
2. Animal or plants or part of these, covered by the convention of Washington
Travellers must be aware that certain wildlife animals or plants and parts thereof are protected by the Convention of Washington (CITES). The importation of these specimens is strongly restricted following the Community rules implementing the CITES-Convention.
Pet owners have to respect the Community rules on movements of pet animals.
4. Prohibitions and restrictions in the following areas are covered by national legislation
- Explosive Material
- Pornographic Materials
If you need more information, please contact the competent authorities of your country of destination.
5. Travelling with € 10 000 or more in cash
As from 15 June 2007, travellers entering or leaving the EU and carrying €10 000 or more in cash (or its equivalent in other currencies or easily convertible assets such as cheques drawn on a third party) have to make a declaration to the customs authorities.
This follows the entry into force of a new European Regulation aimed at fighting money laundering, and the financing of terrorism. Customs authorities are empowered under the Regulation to undertake controls on individuals, their baggage and their means of transport and detain cash that has not been declared.
Travellers must be aware that all Member States apply penalties in the event of failure to comply with the obligation to declare as laid down in the Regulation. Some Member States may apply additional measures according to their national legislation (e.g. intra-community cash controls).
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.