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.

Eu regulations promote contraband cigarettes

Vermont cigarette price
Posted on July 7, 2011 by rogeroffice

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. The objective of EU tobacco policy is to reduce the harm caused by smoking, by informing and warning consumers of the dangers of cigarettes, by making packs and promotion less attractive, and making the product less available. The tragedy is the law of unintended consequences. Everything the EU is doing is making life easier for counterfeiters and contraband artists.

The plan is to require all cigarette brands to carry ever more grotesque and obscene pictures of cancerous lesions caused by smoking to remove branding from cigarettes, allowing no more than a small brand name in a standard font and colour and to ban promotion, merchandising and retail display of cigarettes.

Meantime I have on my desk a pack of Jin Ling cigarettes, which are made not (as you might suppose) in China, but in Kaliningrad, formerly Konigsberg. This is an orphan Russian enclave, separated from the main Russian territory and enclosed by Poland, Lithuania and the Baltic Sea. It is bandit country, mafia territory, calling to mind the lines of Kipling in another context

“&#8230 . where the best is like the worst,

Where there ain’t no Ten Commandments,

And a man can raise a thirst”.

Jin Ling is a brand specifically designed to be contraband. It is, of course, not subject to the comprehensive health and safety rules that apply, say, to Benson & Hedges. It does, however, have a very clear health warning on the pack (though no obscene pictures). The only problem is that the health warning, clear and explicit as it is, appears only in Cyrillic script! Any similarity to the pack of the Camel brand is, of course, entirely intentional.

This is no small operation. Industry sources suggest that production of Jin Ling cigarettes amounts to as much as two billion sticks a year or ten million packs of 200. Remarkably, this contraband brand has made the top ten in the German market.

Perversely, the measures that the EU is taking are a gift to brands like Jin Ling. The packaging may not be great, but it’s a lot more appealing than a picture of a cancerous neck goitre (that’s what it looks like, anyway maybe my diagnosis is not perfect). The virtual disappearance of branded cigarettes from legitimate retail outlets will help to promote informal and illegal distribution channels. Jin Ling is cheaper than official duty paid brands, so more attractive to young smokers. And because it’s not subject to the same regulation, it may be more dangerous.

The EU makes a big issue of protecting copyright and Intellectual Property, and of blocking contraband. Yet its policies in this case are having the opposite effect.

The whole issue of tobacco is so toxic in the EU institutions that the industry finds it difficult to talk to the Commission or the parliament at all. There have been efforts in the parliament to prevent industry access entirely. This is extraordinary for a product which is legal, and an industry which quite properly and legally employs many thousands of European citizens, including those at the Imperial Tobacco factory in Nottingham, in the East Midlands.

Ironically the industry is also keen to protect intellectual property and to stamp out contraband, and would be happy to talk to the EU institutions about methods to minimise harm while supplying, in a safe and orderly way, the needs of those consumers who choose to smoke. But Europe isn’t listening. This is a scandal. There is no other industry that the EU institutions would simply refuse to talk to. And the consequence is more harm to European consumers (and jobs), not less.

Disclaimer I personally haven’t smoked for thirty five years, and I thoroughly dislike the habit. But I believe that those of my constituents who choose to smoke also have rights.

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