Buying goods in another member state — european commission

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 and Slovenia 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.

Europe’s law on e-cigarettes sets global benchmark — health — 27 february 2014 — new scientist

Legislation governing the sale of electronic cigarettes was approved yesterday by the European Parliament, which voted in the draft rules by 500 to 63, with 60 abstentions.

The move could set a precedent for legislation in other parts of the world where e cigarettes are still unregulated, especially in the US where guidance from the Food and Drug Administration is expected soon.

The European legislation allows shops to continue selling e cigarettes as consumer products to Europe’s estimated 10 million e cigarette smokers, or «vapers», rather than having them be regulated as medicines as proposed in an earlier draft of the law.

But the final draft, which now just needs to be approved by member states, does impose strict conditions on how e cigarettes can be formulated, advertised and sold.

From mid 2016, when the legislation comes into force, all advertising will be banned in the 28 European Union countries. E cigarette packaging will have to include modest written health warnings, that «nicotine is addictive and could be harmful», though there is scant evidence so far of ill effects from the products.

The nicotine in e cigarettes will also be restricted to 20 milligrams per millilitre of propylene glycol, a strength that scientists say is too weak for the 30 per cent of vapers who prefer higher concentrations. In a letter of complaint last month to the regulators, scientists said that this might deter heavy smokers from switching to e cigarettes and pointed out that concentrations containing 50 milligrams would more closely match the typical intake from real cigarettes.

Many backers of e cigarettes say they present the best opportunity yet for helping heavy smokers quit or cut down. «The directive in its current form will cause more harm to health than it prevents,» says Clive Bates, former head of the anti smoking group ASH, and a leading campaigner for e cigarettes. «It will place unjustified restrictions on an industry that could present an important alternative to the 28 per cent of European adults who smoke tobacco,» he says.