Shopping on vacation – guidelines for destinations within the European Union


Can you just bring wine from your vacation destination back home? What about tobacco, medications and cash? Souvenirs like cigarettes and alcohol as well as animal products such as cheese or leather clothing can cause problems at the customs office. You can find out here what you need to know about souvenirs purchased within or outside of the EU.

If you travel through EU member states, there are very few limitations, if any. Thanks to one of the fundamental laws of the EU, the “right to freedom of movement”, almost anything can be transported across borders as long as it is intended for private consumption.

General guidelines

There are a few exceptions and limits to be aware of:

Alcohol and tobacco are considered to be so-called “semi-luxury foods” for customs purposes. Therefore, the traveller’s allowance is limited. All packages need to have a label showing the tax stamp and information about nicotine and tar contents.

Cigarettes 800 per person

Cigarillos 400 per person

Cigars 200 per person

Smoking tobacco 1 kilogram per person

Please note

Until 31 December 2017, an individual may only transport up to 200 cigarettes purchased in Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Romania or Bulgaria for the purpose of private consumption without paying duties.

Spirits 10 liter per person

(e.g. brandy, whiskey, vodka, rum)

Alcoholic sweet drinks 10 liter per person

(e.g. alcopops)

Non-classified products 20 liters per person

(e.g. sherry, port wine, marsala wine)

Carbonated wine 60 liters per person

Beer 110 liters per person

There is no traveller’s allowance for wine that is brought to Germany from other EU member states for the purpose of private consumption.

In Germany, there is a traveller’s allowance for coffee and products containing coffee. Each person may import 10 kilograms of coffee and 10 kilograms of products containing coffee from other EU member states.

If the quantities of transported goods exceed the traveller’s allowance, it may be suspected that they have been purchased for commercial purposes. You should try to prove that the goods you are transporting are intended for private consumption. Otherwise, you will need to pay the required taxes.

The above mentioned guidelines only apply to private individuals who personally transport goods from one EU member state to another. Taxes must have been paid in the member state where the goods have been purchased in the usual manner.

Travel within the EU through non-member states

If your trip requires you to pass through a country that is not a member of the EU, e.g. Switzerland, you should research whether traveller’s allowances are lower or if there are any other rules you should be aware of. You will not have to pay duties when you bring goods within the above mentioned limits back to Germany as long as you can prove that the products were purchased in the EU. A receipt should be sufficient proof.

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