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Summaries of EU Legislation

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Value-added tax and excise duties — exemptions for travellers from outside the EU

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Value-added tax and excise duties — exemptions for travellers from outside the EU

 

SUMMARY OF:

Council Directive 2007/74/EC — exemption from value added tax and excise duty of goods imported by persons travelling from non-EU countries

WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE DIRECTIVE?

  • It defines EU tax-free allowances in international travel.
  • It lays down rules relating to the exemption from value added tax (VAT) and customs duty of goods imported in the personal luggage of travellers from:
    • a non-EU country; or
    • a territory where EU laws on VAT and/or excise duty do not apply, e.g. the Isle of Man.

KEY POINTS

  • The directive sets a value threshold for exemptions from excise duties at €430 in the case of air and sea travellers and at €300 for those travelling by land (including by inland waterways).
  • EU countries may lower the value threshold for travellers aged under 15, whatever their means of transport, but this threshold may not be lower than €150.
  • EU countries may lower the value thresholds and the quantitative limits for:
    • travellers who live in a border area;
    • cross-border workers; and
    • the crews of means of transport used in international travel.
  • The directive sets the following maximum and minimum quantitative limits for imports of tobacco:
    • 200 cigarettes or 40 cigarettes;
    • 100 cigarillos or 20 cigarillos;
    • 50 cigars or 10 cigars;
    • 250 g smoking tobacco or 50 g smoking tobacco.
  • EU countries may choose to distinguish between air travellers and other travellers by applying the lower quantitative limits to the other travellers.
  • The directive sets the following maximum and minimum quantities for imports of alcohol:
    • a total of 1 litre of an alcoholic strength exceeding 22% vol. or undenatured ethyl alcohol* of 80% vol. and over;
    • a total of 2 litres of alcohol of a strength not exceeding 22% vol.
  • Exemptions for tobacco and alcohol do not apply to travellers under 17 years old.
  • Every 4 years the European Commission reports to the Council on the directive’s implementation. The most recent report, published in 2013, states that most EU countries are content with the directive and do not see any need to revise it.

FROM WHEN DOES THE DIRECTIVE APPLY?

It has applied since 29 December 2007. EU countries had to transpose it into their national law by 1 December 2008.

BACKGROUND

For more information, see:

* KEY TERMS

Undenatured ethyl alcohol: Alcohol that has not had anything added to it to make it undrinkable.

MAIN DOCUMENT

Council Directive 2007/74/EC of 20 December 2007 on the exemption from value added tax and excise duty of goods imported by persons travelling from third countries (OJ L 346, 29.12.2007, pp. 6–12)

RELATED DOCUMENTS

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council in accordance with Article 16 of Council Directive 2007/74/EC on the exemption from value added tax and excise duty of goods imported by persons travelling from third countries (COM(2013) 849 final, 3.12.2013)

last update 28.11.2016

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