Alcohol and ciggarates in luggage – what are EU limits?

2019-07-26
Alcohol and cigarettes in luggage - what are the EU limits?

Although every country within the EU has different limits for the import of alcohol and cigarettes , there are a few general observations that apply to all EU countries. The import limit of these products from non-EU states is always lower than when importing from EU states.

Travelling within the EU

Generally speaking, there is no limit to the volume of alcohol or amount of tobacco you can bring from one EU member state into another EU member state as long as they are only for your personal use. That said, customs enforcement agencies may check the amount you brought, the business you work at, the type of packaging of the products, or other factors to determine if they are indeed for your own use. As long as the goods satisfy the personal use principle, they will not be subject to additional duties. The maximum amounts are at least:

  • 1kg of loose tobacco,
  • 200 cigars,
  • 400 cigarillos that weigh less than 3g each,
  • 800 cigarettes,
  • 10l of spirits,
  • 20l of fortified wine,
  • 90l of wine, of which no more than 60l can consist of sparkling wine,
  • 110l of beer.

Entering the EU from a non-EU country

When you enter an EU member state from a non-EU country, the limits are much stricter. You can bring in the following amounts of alcohol:

  • 4l of non-sparkling wine,
  • 16l of beer,
  • 1l of spirits or 1l of undenatured (drinkable) alcohol or 2l of fortified or sparkling wine.

The rules for tobacco varies from country to country and differ between method of entry or port of entry. In general, the limits are as follows:

  • Between 50g and 250g of tobacco.
  • Between 10 to 50 cigars.
  • Between 20 to 100 cigarillos.
  • Between 40 to 200 cigarettes.

Quick tips for ensuring compliance with the law

Here are a few quick tips you should always keep in mind whenever you are carrying alcohol or tobacco with you while you travel:

  • Alcohol and tobacco limits may vary from country to country; check with the customs enforcement agency of the country of entry to be sure of the limits.
  • Cigarettes, cigars, and loose leaf tobacco are often given different limits and taxed differently; pay attention to the separate limits of different tobacco products.
  • If you know you will be bringing in dutiable goods beyond the tax-free limit, be prepared to pay for the duties with cash in the local currency for the total amount of goods imported.
  • If you are ever in doubt, always use the red channel and declare any alcohol or tobacco you may have with you.

 Switzerland and the EU

Although Switzerland is in the Schengen area, it is not part of the EU. Thus, duties may be charged for bringing alcohol and tobacco products between the EU and Switzerland. However, if you are entering the EU via Switzerland, you may be allowed to bring in an amount of goods over the duty-free limit as long as you provide a financial guarantee. The guarantee will be refunded to you when all the goods imported are accounted for when leaving Switzerland.

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