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Exemptions for travellers

This Directive establishes a Community system of exemptions from value added tax (VAT) and excise duty for non-commercial imports of goods by persons travelling between the Member States of the European Union (EU) and third countries.


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.


This Directive establishes the maximum amount of money and the maximum quantities of alcohol and/or tobacco that persons travelling from non-member countries may import into the European Union (EU) without paying customs duty, VAT or excise duty. The goods in question must not be being imported for commercial purposes.


The system applies to goods imported in the personal luggage of persons travelling from countries or territories where the harmonised rules on VAT and excise duty do not apply.

The exemptions are applied on the basis of monetary thresholds or quantitative limits for goods that travellers from third countries are allowed to import tax-free into the EU.

Monetary thresholds

The Commission is proposing that the Member States exempt imports of goods with a value of not more than EUR 300 per person (EUR 430 for people travelling by air or sea) from VAT and excise duty.

Member States may limit the monetary threshold for travellers under 15 years of age, but a minimum EUR 150 applies regardless of the type of transport used.

Member States may choose not to levy VAT or excise duty on imports of goods by a traveller when the amount of the tax to be levied is EUR 10 or below. For the purposes of applying the monetary thresholds, the value of an individual item may not be split up. In addition, Member States may lower the monetary thresholds and the quantitative limits for travellers whose place of residence is in a border area, frontier workers and the crews of means of transport used in international travel.

Quantitative limits for tobacco

Member States are to exempt imports of tobacco products subject to the following maximum or minimum quantitative limits:

  • 200 cigarettes or 40 cigarettes;
  • 100 cigarillos or 20 cigarillos;
  • 50 cigars or 10 cigars;
  • 250 g smoking tobacco or 50 g smoking tobacco.

Member States may chose to distinguish between air travellers and other travellers by not applying the lower quantitative limits.

Quantitative limits for alcohol

Member States are to exempt imports of types of alcohol and alcoholic beverage, subject to the following quantitative limits:

  • a total of 1 litre of alcohol and alcoholic beverages of an alcoholic strength exceeding 22% vol. or undenatured ethyl alcohol of 80% vol. and over;
  • a total of 2 litres of alcohol and alcoholic beverages of an alcoholic strength not exceeding 22% vol.

Exemptions for tobacco and alcohol do not apply to travellers under 17 years of age.

In 2012, and every four years thereafter, the European Commission is to send the Council a report on the implementation of the Directive.


As from 1 December 2008, this Directive repeals Directive 69/169/EEC.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 2007/74/EC 29.12.2007
Applicable as of 1.12.2008
1.12.2008 OJ L 346 of 29.12.2007
Last updated: 30.05.2008
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