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Most souvenirs end up in the cellar sooner or later. Cigarettes and alcohol are therefore a popular souvenir from afar. But how are actually the customs regulations within the EU determined and what quantities may be imported tax-free into Germany? The answer to these and other questions about customs within the EU can be found below:
& Note: Note that the federal government currently discourages private travel, day trips and visits to relatives at home and abroad. Therefore, please inform yourself about the current travel warnings of the German Foreign Office and the information of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) before each booking and before each departure.
How is customs regulated within the EU?
In general, the right to free movement applies within the EU, which also brings many advantages when shopping while traveling in other EU countries. However, customs regulations within the EU restrict the import of certain goods. We list the most important import regulations in this article.
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Which import regulations must I consider with cash and other fortune?
Who within the EU with more than 10.If a person is traveling with € 000 in assets, he or she must declare these assets when asked by a customs officer.
The following are considered as assets:
- Cash (coins and bills)
- Securities (savings bond, check/traveler’s check, share, bill of exchange)
- Equated Means of payment (savings books, electronic money, precious metals/gemstones)
Jewelry and similar goods, on the other hand, do not have to be declared.
If you do not declare your assets when asked, this is considered a misdemeanor. This can be punished with a fine of up to one million euros.
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Which customs regulations apply within the EU for pharmaceuticals?
Medicines purchased by travelers in other EU countries must not exceed the usual personal requirements in terms of quantity. Customs within the EU usually considers rations for a maximum of three months as personal use.
One should be careful with particularly cheap medicines, since these are often counterfeited. The import of these drugs is prohibited, as is the import of substances frequently used in doping (anabolic steroids etc).). In addition, certain acquired preparations may contain ingredients that are subject to species protection regulations.
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How is the import of fireworks regulated?
Especially around the turn of the year, fireworks are a popular souvenir from the vacations. As a general rule, table fireworks and sparklers may be brought into Germany from other EU countries by persons aged 12 and over. For the import of small fireworks such as rockets, firecrackers and batteries (with some exceptions), on the other hand, the 18. The child must have reached the age of 12.
According to customs regulations within the EU, however, the import is only allowed if the fireworks are marked with a CE mark or an approval mark of the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM). If this is not the case, the products will be confiscated and criminal proceedings may even be initiated. Therefore: Stay away from fireworks whose origin cannot be clearly traced.
& Important: Apart from regulations concerning cash, medicines and fireworks, there are also special regulations concerning cultural goods, weapons and ammunition. Also the import of youth-endangering and unconstitutional writings resp. Media is subject to restrictions. We have limited ourselves here only to the most important aspects.
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May goods from the EU for private use be carried duty-free?
Goods may be carried duty-free from any country in the EU, provided they are intended for private use. Therefore, these products must also be carried personally in the luggage of the respective travelers.
However, especially in the case of goods subject to excise duty (e.g. fireworks), there is no reason to declare the assets.B. (e.g. alcohol, tobacco or coffee), there is often a suspicion that they may be traded commercially. Therefore, guideline values were created, which determine the private need in these cases.
The guideline values may be exceeded in principle. In these cases, however, the private use must be proven. A reason could be, for example, an upcoming wedding, which would justify a high personal consumption of alcoholic beverages.
However, the assessment of these situations always depends on the assessment of the inspecting customs officers. In order to avoid legal disputes, it is therefore advisable to adhere to the following guidelines when traveling within the EU:
Private demand and import regulations for alcoholic beverages
Brandy, whisky, rum and vodka are among the classics among the souvenirs from the vacation. But to what extent they may be carried duty-free within Europe? Customs regulations within the EU determine these standard quantities:
- Up to ten liters of spirits such as brandy, whisky, rum or vodka may be carried duty-free within the EU.
- The same guideline value of ten liters applies to the especially among young people popular Alcopops.
- So-called Intermediate products, which include, for example, sherry, port wine and marsala, may be imported up to a quantity of 20 liters are imported into Germany from other EU countries.
- For Sparkling wine is the limit for 60 liters.
- At beer on the other hand, even up to 110 liters are carried along.
Wine may be imported in unlimited quantities imported for private use. For transport, however, the so-called wine regulations should be observed.
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Private consumption of cigarettes and other tobacco products
The customs regulations within the EU set the following guideline quantities for tobacco products:
- For Cigarettes the guideline quantity within the EU is 800 pieces.
- At Cigarillos one goes with up to 400 pieces from personal use.
- The directive for cigars is available 200 pieces.
- smoking tobacco remains up to one kilogram duty free.
When buying cigarettes abroad, it’s important to buy only legally traded goods. These can be recognized by the tax mark, the writing and the language. Suspicious, on the other hand, are missing data on nicotine and tar content and, of course, particularly low prices.
If you travel with counterfeited or. illegally traded tobacco products into an EU country, this can be considered tax evasion, which is of course a punishable offence.
Private needs for other excisable goods
Other excisable goods that travelers like to bring with them from other EU countries include in particular Coffee and other products containing caffeine. Here the guideline value is ten kilograms.
Which import regulations apply for commercial purposes?
All goods brought to Germany from other EU countries for commercial purposes must also be registered and taxed in Germany. It is important to know that tobacco may never be imported commercially.
How to behave at customs at the airport?
Anyone returning from a trip from outside the EU and importing goods for private use only may choose either the green exit or the exit with the Europe symbol at the airport. Both stand for goods free of declaration (nothing to declare).
If, on the other hand, you are traveling with goods for commercial purposes or goods that exceed the specified limits, you must go to the red exit after landing at the airport. Here the customs officials are already waiting, who usually start directly with the clearance of the goods.
As a traveler, you are obliged to assist customs officials by, for example, showing all the goods you are carrying and not obstructing proper customs clearance.
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What are the exceptions to the customs regulations within the EU??
Individual destinations, such as the Canary Islands, the French overseas departments and some other regions do not belong to the tax area of the EU. For this reason, different regulations apply in these regions with regard to the import regulations.
Specifically, the quantity and value limits for travel from third countries apply here, which we present to you here.
Check the customs regulations within the EU before your trip to Europe
Please inform yourself about the customs regulations in the EU before your trip to Europe. The same applies, of course, to all other travel outside Europe. Especially if you like to carry a souvenir or two from afar for friends, family or even yourself.
Because with the customs always applies: Ignorance does not protect against punishment. And a fine or other legal consequences can quickly dampen the joy of travel. Therefore, better stay on the safe side, so you can come back from vacation refreshed.
The article was published in October 2014 and revised in May 2021. Regulations and information are current at the time of publication and revision, but may change at any time. Therefore, we recommend that you always inform yourself about the current legal situation in advance of a trip.
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FAQs about customs regulations within the EU
The right to free movement allows all EU citizens to move freely within the EU and to reside in other member states. This also includes borderless travel with its associated benefits. However, there are restrictions for certain goods.
Goods for private use may be carried duty-free within the EU. However, there are maximum limits for tobacco products, coffee and alcohol. For example, anyone who exceeds the maximum quantity of 800 pieces allowed for cigarettes must go to customs when entering an EU country.
Anyone entering Germany from another EU country is allowed to bring in 800 cigarettes. For cigarillos the exemption limit is 400 pieces and for cigars 200 pieces. Smoking tobacco is allowed up to one kilogram.
The import of food and feed for private use is generally permitted. However, there are exceptions where the import is restricted or even prohibited. These include: Wild mushrooms, potatoes, sturgeon caviar, certain food supplements or vitamin preparations, and food and feed of both animal and non-animal origin.
More tips about traveling:
- Our continuously updated article on travel and travel safety during COVID-19: Coronavirus travel advice
- COVID-19 Proof of vaccination to travel: The most important questions answered
- How long does it actually take to fly to ..? All flight times at a glance
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