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General overview

Excise duties are indirect taxes on the sale or use of specific products. They are usually applied as an amount per quantity of the product e.g. per kg / per hl /per degree alcohol / per 1000 pieces etc.
All revenue from excise duties goes entirely to the Member States.

EU legislation on excise duties was largely prompted by the launch of the Single Market in 1993. As tax controls at the borders between Member States were abolished, common rules were needed to facilitate cross-border trade in certain products and to prevent competitive distortions.
Therefore, EU legislation was adopted to ensure that excise duties for certain products were applied in the same way, and to the same products throughout the Single Market, and that Member States applied (at least) a minimum rate of excise duty.

In the EU, Member States must apply excise duties to:

You can find more information on the specific rules for each category by clicking on the links above.
Common Provisions are also set out in EU law, which apply to all products subject to excise duties. These include the framework for the Excise Monitoring and Control System (EMCS), which is a computerised system for monitoring the movement of excise goods within the EU.

EU legislation on excise duties includes:

  • Definition of product categories and how the tax should be applied to them
  • Minimum rates that must be applied
  • Scope for possible exemptions
  • General rules for producing, storing and moving these goods around the EU