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, Slovenia and Sweden 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.

Legislation – european commission

Cigarettes online Blog Archive Cheapest+cigarettes&find_loc=san+francisco%2c+ca san francisco

The basic legislative act is

  • Council Directive 2011/64/EU of 21 June 2011 on the structure and rates of excise duty applied to manufactured tobacco (codification). This Directive
    • defines the various categories of manufactured tobacco (cigarettes, fine cut tobacco intended for the rolling of cigarettes, cigars and cigarillos, other smoking tobacco)
    • lays down the general principles governing taxation of manufactured tobacco
    • provides for an overall minimum excise duty of 57% of the weighted average retail selling price of cigarettes
    • provides for a minimum amount of excise duty of 64 Euro per 1000 cigarettes irrespective of the weighted average retail selling price
    • determines the minimum rates for fine cut smoking tobacco intended for the rolling of cigarettes, namely 40% of the weighted average retail selling price or 40 Euro per kilogram
    • determines the minimum rates for cigars and cigarillos, namely 5% of the retail selling price inclusive of all taxes or 12 Euro per 100 items or per kilogram
    • determines the minimum rates for other smoking tobaccos, namely 20% of the retail selling price inclusive of all taxes, or 22 Euro per kilogram.
  • This Directive repealed
    • Council Directive 95/59/EC of 27 November 1995 on taxes other than turnover taxes which affect the consumption of manufactured tobacco
    • Council Directive 92/79/EEC of 19 October 1992 on the approximation of taxes on cigarettes
    • Council Directive 92/80/EEC of 19 October 1992 on the approximation of taxes on manufactured tobacco other than cigarettes
  • as amended by the Directives listed in Annex I, Part A without prejudice to the obligations of the Member States relating to the time limits for transposition into national law and application of the Directives set out in Annex I, Part B (see Article 21 of Council Directive 2011/64/EU).

  • According to this Directive, Member States have to apply to cigarettes a specific excise duty per unit of the product and a proportional excise duty calculated on the basis of the weighted average retail selling price. Furthermore, Member States may choose between either an ad valorem duty, or a specific duty or a mixture of both on manufactured tobacco other than cigarettes.

Brief history of the EU legislation in the area of tobacco taxation

Council Directives 92/79/EEC, 92/80/EEC and 95/59/EC were last amended by Council Directive 2002/10/EC of 12 February 2002 as regards the structure and rates of excise duty applied on manufactured tobacco and by Council Directive 2003/117/EC of 5 December 2003, authorising the French Republic to prolong the application of lower rates of excise duty to tobacco products released for consumption in Corsica, from 1 January 2003 to 31 December 2009.

The European Commission on 16 July 2008 presented a Report and a proposal for a Directive to amend the current EU excise duty legislation on tobacco. This Directive was adopted by the Council on 16 February 2010 and published in the Official Journal of the European Union L 50/1 on 27 February 2010 (Council Directive 2010/12/EU). Amongst other matters, it foresaw a gradual increase in the EU minimum taxation levels on cigarettes and fine cut tobacco up to 2014 and 2018 respectively. The Directive also aimed to contribute to reducing tobacco consumption by 10% within the next 5 years.

Further information to the history and background documentation of Council Directive 2010/12/EU can be found here press release (IP/08/1149 ), the frequently asked questions (MEMO/08/506 ), the proposal (COM/2008/459(70 kB) ), the Commission report (COM/2008/460(102 kB) ), former Commissioner Kov&aacute cs’s speech(17 kB) , the presentation(550 kB) , the Impact Assessment (SEC/2008/2266) and its summary (SEC/2008/2267(21 kB) ), and the external study(3.59 Mb) . The EU Council of Ministers on 10 November 2009 reached a political agreement on the draft Directive (See the Council press release).

Due to the fact that the Council Directives 92/79/EEC, 92/80/EEC and 95/59/EC were substantially amended several times and in the interests of clarity and rationality the said Directives have been codified by assembling them in a single act. This single act was adopted by the Council of Ministers on 21 June 2011 and published in the Official Journal of the European Union L 176/24 on 5 July 2011 (Council Directive 2011/64/EU). This Directive entered into force retroactively from 1 January 2011.