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Holiday season: useful tips for a worry-free summer

With the holiday season already starting and millions of Europeans planning trips across the continent and beyond, here are a few tips on what to do when faced with a problem.

Can I bring back some meat or cheese from my holidays abroad?

When returning home from most countries outside the EU
, it is illegal to bring back any meat or dairy products whether these are for yourself or as a gift for others.If you are coming back from the Faeroe Islands, Greenland or Iceland, you can bring back up to 10 kilos of certain products of animal origin, powdered infant milk, infant food, special food or special pet food required for medical reasons. To be able to transport these products, they must be put in sealed packages and should not weigh more than two kilos or require refrigeration before opening.

You can also bring back fish and certain shellfish from Greenland, if they weigh up to 20 kilos. For the Faeroe Islands or Iceland, no weight restrictions apply.
For other animal products, such as honey, you are also limited to two kilos.

When transporting animal products between countries inside the EU, these rules do not apply. Nor do they apply, if you are coming from Andorra, Liechtenstein, Norway, San Marino or Switzerland.

The EU may introduce further restrictions in the event of infectious animal diseases in third countries.

In case of doubt, check with the veterinary service at the point of entry into the EU (airport, port, road, etc.).

It is important to remember that these rules exist in order to protect your health and the health of EU livestock from serious animal diseases.

For more information, check out the travel Europa website.

The answers to more FAQs are here.

If you wish to ask another question, you can do so at this address.

What should I keep in mind if I take out a loan to pay for my package holiday?

The EU’s Consumer Credit Directive grants you certain rights when you buy something on credit. The five most important ones:

  • The consumer credit ads you are looking at should be transparent and easy to understand

  • Before signing a contract, you should receive enough information to be able to compare the different offers on the market

  • Once you sign your agreement, you should get a copy of it

  • If you change your mind, you have 14 days to withdraw from the contract

  • You should be able to repay your credit earlier than foreseen against a fair compensation.


If I have problems while shopping during my holiday abroad, whom can I contact back home to help me get a redress?

If you live in the EU, Norway or Iceland, you can get free assistance once you are back home! Contact the European Consumer Centre (ECC) in your country, if you had problems renting a car, booking a package holiday or a plane ticket while travelling in the EU, Norway or Iceland. Their team can also help you solve problems you had when ordering accessories for your vacation online from another European country. Those travelling to Brazil for the World Cup can also get benefit from the ECC’s expertise. You can download a special world cup guide on your rights as a consumer in Brazil from here.

During my holiday, I bought a new pair of shoes but they broke after a week. How can I get my money back? What are the rules?


No matter where you shop within the EU, you have basic consumer rights that cannot be taken away. 2-year guarantee - the seller must repair or replace faulty goods free of charge. If that is not possible within reasonable time or without inconvenience, you may ask for a refund or a price reduction. Commercial guarantees do not replace the minimum 2-year guarantee but may complement it.

Whatever your nationality, EU consumer laws apply to purchases of goods or services made in any outlet located in the EU territory. Warranties are regulated by law Europe-wide. An EU Directive specifies the minimum degree of protection of buyers. Member States are obliged to implement the EU requirements in national law, which may also offer a higher level of protection.

Thanks to the European Small Claims procedure, you are also able to claim your money back in three simple steps, if you purchased a faulty product abroad. In many cases and in all EU countries – with the exception of Denmark – you can make use of this process. It is a speedy, cost-effective alternative to traditional court procedures, and can currently be used for commercial, including consumer transactions involving up to €2,000. You only have to submit a standard form to the competent court.

Another piece of good news for consumers is that new EU rules on consumer rights will enter into force as of 13 June 2014, which will ensure that all EU citizens have 14 days if they wish to return goods bought at a distance, whether by internet, post or phone (MEMO/14/1144).

What happens if I need to see a doctor abroad?

If you get sick or suffer an injury while travelling to an EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, you have the right to emergency treatment. For this, you need the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with you. The treatment you will receive will be provided under the same conditions and at the same cost as for people insured in the country you are visiting. So don't forget to ask your national health insurance provider to issue it for you, free of charge.

To keep the emergency phone numbers you may need with you and for more information about the treatments covered and their costs, how to claim reimbursement and whom to contact in case you lose your card, download the special smartphone application.

The app is available in 24 languages. The app does not replace the EHIC.


If you are a chronic disease patient and you need to get your medicine while travelling abroad, ask your doctor for a cross-border prescription before you leave.

More information:

David Hudson (+32 2 296 83 35)

Andreana Stankova (+32 2 295 78 57)