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European Union: New Rules on Tax and Duty-Free Imports

(Dec. 9, 2008) As of December 1, 2008, a new set of rules pertaining to taxable and duty-free imports within the European Union will enter into force, replacing rules that date back to 1969. The new rules are expected to financially benefit travelers and the EU Member States alike. Tourists will be able to save money when they bring goods into the EU in their personal luggage; Member States will save money by reducing administrative costs associated with the collection of small amounts of taxes and duty. Some highlights of the new rules are:

· an increase in the current monetary threshold from €175 (about US$222) to €430 (about US$545) for air and sea travelers and to €300 for land and inland waterway travelers;

· elimination of the quantity limits on perfume, eau de toilette, coffee, and tea, because the value of such items will be calculated in the total monetary limit allowed per traveler;

· an increase in the import limit on still wine from two to four liters;

· a newly established limit of 16 liters for imported beer; and

· permission for Member States to reduce the limits on the quantity of imported tobacco products, either from 200 to 40 for cigarettes, or from 50 to 10 for cigars; or from 250 grams to 50 for tobacco products

The Taxation and Customs Union Commissioner, László Kovács, called the entry into force of these rules “good news for European travelers.” (Council Directive 2007/74/EC, Dec. 20, 2007, on the exemption from value added tax and excise duty of goods imported by persons traveling from third countries, 2007 O.J.(L346) 7 (Dec. 29, 2007), available at
; RAPID Press Release, IP/08/1845, Duty-Free Imports: New Rules for Travellers' Allowances into the European Union from December 1, 2008 (Dec. 1, 2008), available at