Customs in the EU: allowances for alcohol, cigarettes & coffee

There are no more customs in the EU – except for alcohol, cigarettes and coffee. If you want to import these luxury goods, for example when travelling from another EU country to Germany, you must comply with the duty-free allowances. There are also rules about carrying cash. There are heavy fines for non-compliance.

Importing coffee, alcohol and tobacco duty-free into Germany

Are you going on a trip to Denmark, France, Poland or another EU country and wondering what to do at the border when you get back to Germany?

If you want to import goods for personal use, you no longer have to worry within the EU. Except for luxury foods. There are certain allowances for cigarettes, alcohol and coffee. These must be adhered to, otherwise an inspection can be expensive.

The allowances apply per adult person and cannot be transferred to other passengers if one person does not use them up. It is also important to note that the products must be carried in your personal luggage.

Travel allowance for cigarettes and other tobacco products

  • 800 cigarettes and
  • 400 cigarillos and 
  • 200 cigars and
  • 1 kg of smoking tobacco, including (water) pipe tobacco and
  • 800 pieces/smoking portions of heated tobacco (sticks for inhalation of aerosol/smoke) and
  • 1 litre of substitutes, e.g. liquid for e-cigarettes (but no more than 10 retail packs)

Bringing alcohol into Germany from the EU

  • 10 litres of spirits (e.g. whisky, rum, vodka) and
  • 10 litres of sweet alcoholic beverages (alcopops) and
  • 20 litres of intermediate products (e.g. sherry, port and liqueur wines) and
  • 60 litres of sparkling wine and
  • 110 litres of beer

The German customs authorities have not set a reference quantity for wine from other EU Member States. Therefore, from an excise point of view, unlimited quantities of wine can be brought into the country as long as it is consumed privately. However, this does not affect the provisions of the Wine Law on the transport of wine.

Allowed free quantity for coffee

  • 10 kg of coffee and
  • 10 kg of goods containing coffee (products containing between 10 and 900 g of coffee per kg).

Please note

Special rules apply when entering Germany from some areas within the EU, such as the Canary Islands, Helgoland or North Cyprus. The rules for returning from a non-EU country apply. For more information, visit

Important to know

Different rules may apply in Europe for the import and export of luxury goods. This is because the EU only sets guidelines for travellers' allowances. Each Member State can adopt stricter rules that differ from these.

You can find the national customs authorities in the EU here.

Importing fuel into Germany

Personally transported fuel, e.g. petrol or diesel, in the vehicle's tank is duty-free within the EU.

The situation is different if you are carrying fuel in spare cans. In this case, national regulations must be observed.

Depending on the Member State, the amount of fuel allowed in canisters varies between 5 and 25 litres. In Bulgaria, Greece, Croatia, Romania and Luxembourg it is forbidden to carry filled jerrycans. For more information, see

When importing fuel from the EU to Germany, up to 20 litres in spare cans are not checked.

However, the ADAC recommends never carrying more than 10 litres in a jerrycan for safety reasons.

Exporting goods: Taking stimulants from Germany to other EU countries

If you are travelling from Germany to another EU country and want to take a supply of tobacco, coffee or alcohol with you for your holiday, you must comply with the rules of the country you are entering.

This is because the EU only uses the above limits as a guideline. Each member state can impose stricter rules that differ from these. Luxury foods are particularly expensive in Scandinavian countries, for example. However, drivers should not simply fill up their boots as this can be expensive. Here are links to national customs authorities.

For example, the following allowances apply to imports into Sweden and Finland:

  • 10 litres of spirits (e.g. whisky, rum, vodka) 
  • 90 litres of wine (including 60 litres of sparkling wine) 
  • 20 litres of intermediate products (e.g. sherry, port and liqueur wines)
  • 110 litres of beer

For import into Norway:

  • max. 1 litre of spirits with an alcoholic strength of between 22% and 60% vol.
  • 1.5 litres of wine
  • 2 litres of beer/alcopop/cider

The minimum age must also be observed. In Sweden, you must be at least 20 years old to import alcohol. In Finland and Norway, the minimum age is 18, but 20 for strong alcohol (22% or more).

Customs control: Penalties for failure to declare goods

If you exceed the duty-free allowances set by Customs, it will be presumed that the goods are intended for commercial purposes and will therefore be liable to duty. However, you can rebut this presumption by proving that you are using the goods for private purposes.

In addition to fines for non-declaration, criminal proceedings for tax evasion may be initiated in very serious cases.

These allowances apply when entering the EU from third countries

The following allowances apply when you enter the EU from a third country (e.g. Switzerland or the UK).

Alcohol allowances from third countries

  • 4 litres of wine and
  • 16 litres of beer and
  • Spirits: 1 litre of spirits containing more than 22% alcohol by volume (e.g. vodka or gin) or 1 litre of ethyl alcohol containing at least 80% alcohol by volume or 2 litres of fortified wine/sparkling wine (e.g. sherry or port).

Duty-free allowances for cigarettes/tobacco products from third countries

For tobacco, the limits (which vary from EU country to EU country) are as follows

  • Cigarettes: 40 to 200 items or
  • Cigarillos: 20 to 100 items, or
  • Cigars: 10 to 50 items or
  • Tobacco: 50g to 250g

Bringing in other goods from third countries

Souvenirs, clothing, furniture and similar goods may be brought into the EU from a third country up to a total value of €430 (if travelling by air or sea) or €300 (other travellers). If the limits are exceeded, import duties are payable. This scheme applies to people over the age of 15. For those under 15, the exemption limit is €175.

If you are travelling through the EU via Switzerland

If you are travelling through Switzerland on your way to Europe, you must also comply with Swiss customs regulations.

Goods worth up to 5,000 Swiss francs can pass through Switzerland without being declared.

In terms of allowances for alcohol, tobacco, etc., Swiss regulations are much stricter than EU directives.

For example, a total of 5 litres of beverages with an alcohol content of up to 18% by volume may be imported. Anything over this is taxed at CHF 2 per litre.

Cigarettes can be imported in quantities of up to 250 before a tax of CHF 0.25 per cigarette becomes payable. More details on

Species protection rules

Be careful when collecting shells or other natural products (animals and plants). These may be protected species and require an official export permit. So be careful when buying coral jewellery - a certificate from the dealer is not enough!

For example, only up to three specimens of giant clams and fencing snail shells may be taken into Germany. For seahorses, up to four dead specimens are allowed.

Information on this, sorted by holiday country, is available at Anyone who fails to comply with the regulations will be liable to confiscation and possible fines.

Travelling with cash

Cash, gold, precious stones and cheques can be carried within the EU up to a total value of €10,000.

If you are travelling from Germany to an EU member state (or vice versa), any amounts in excess of this must be declared verbally to German customs upon request. Entry regulations may vary from one EU country to another. You should also check the declaration requirements in your destination country. Click here to go to the customs websites of the Member States.

Remember: Many EU countries have cash limits, i.e. cash payments may only be made up to a certain amount.

If you are travelling from Germany to a non-EU country (or vice versa), you must declare cash or valuables worth €10,000 or more in writing to German customs. You can find an English-language form at There are no further charges for this declaration. You must also comply with the declaration requirements of the third country in question.

Taking medicines abroad

You can take medicines abroad in quantities that do not exceed your requirements for a maximum of three months per medicine. It does not matter whether the medicines are authorised or registered in the other country.

It is forbidden to bring counterfeit medicines and particularly dangerous substances often used in doping. More details here at

FAQs: Importing and exporting luxury foods

Yes, the regulations of each country apply.

For example, no one under the age of 17 is allowed to import alcohol or tobacco into Germany.

The Scandinavian countries are stricter. You must be 18 to import light alcoholic beverages into Norway or Finland, and 20 for strong alcohol. In Sweden, the minimum age is 20.

The value limits of more than one person cannot be added or transferred - each person may carry no more than the allowance applicable to them.

For example: Four people are travelling together in a car and enter Germany from the UK. One of them has bought an item of clothing worth €500 in the UK, exceeding the €430 allowance. Customs duty and import VAT are payable on the full value. It is not possible to 'transfer' the £70 over and above the £430 to another person.

  • 10 litres of spirits (e.g. whisky, rum, vodka)
  • 20 litres of intermediate products (e.g. sherry, port)
  • 60 litres of sparkling wine (Sekt), wine: basically unlimited. Wine regulations may apply.
  • 110 litres of beer

Again, the EU duty-free allowances apply (see above).

Again, the above limits apply within the EU. For private purposes, the following quantities may be brought into the country

  • 10 litres of spirits (e.g. whisky, rum, vodka)
  • 20 litres of intermediate products (e.g. sherry, port)
  • 60 litres of sparkling wine. Wine: unlimited in principle. Wine regulations may apply.
  • 110 litres of beer

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