Friday, 21 January, 2022

What can we buy in the EU without any customs restrictions?


Thursday, October 5, a Belgian retiree is fined by customs officials from the flat-country at the wheel of her van. Amount of the fine: 414 euros. His fault? Having bought 70 packs of water – or 420 bottles – in an Auchan supermarket in Maubeuge, on the other side of the border, in France. The unfortunate retiree says it was family consumption for her, her sons and her sister. Belgian officials, for their part, considered that it was thus fueling a black market, as the story goes. The new Gazette, a French-speaking Belgian daily.

Gray area on authorized quantities

In France, the majority of products purchased by a consumer in another EU state – the sale of which is legal – are not subject to restrictions. These goods simply need to be for “personal use”.

However, this notion is particularly vague. If the unfortunate retiree was penalized by Belgian customs officers, it is because, according to them, she would have gone beyond this framework. “Personal use does not include redistribution to his family or relatives,” explains the headquarters of French Customs. “Purchases must remain acceptable and reasonable. “. However, each situation is assessed on a case-by-case basis. “At times, common sense prevails. If this retiree had been checked by French colleagues, they would certainly have asked her questions, ”say Customs.

So no limitations… but be careful with the quantities anyway.

of the flat country behind the wheel of his van. Amount of the fine: 414 euros. His fault? Having bought 70 packs of water – or 420 bottles – in an Auchan supermarket in Maubeuge, on the other side of the border, in France. The unfortunate retiree says it was family consumption for her, her sons and her sister. Belgian officials, for their part, considered that it was thus fueling a black market, as the story goes. The new Gazette, a French-speaking Belgian daily.

Gray area on authorized quantities

In France, the majority of products purchased by a consumer in another EU state – the sale of which is legal – are not subject to restrictions. These goods simply need to be for “personal use”.

However, this notion is particularly vague. If the unfortunate retiree was penalized by Belgian customs officers, it is because, according to them, she would have gone beyond this framework. “Personal use, that does not include redistribution to his family or relatives,” says one at the headquarters of French Customs. “Purchases must remain acceptable and reasonable. “. However, each situation is assessed on a case-by-case basis. “At times, common sense prevails. If this retiree had been checked by French colleagues, they would certainly have asked her questions, ”say Customs.

So no limitations… but be careful with the quantities anyway.

In the EU zone, purchase of restricted tobacco and alcohol

For purchases made in countries of the European Union, the restrictions are limited. Only four types of products are subject to constraints.

  • The tobacco

The maximum authorized for a cigarette purchase abroad corresponds to 800 units of cigarettes.

Source: French Customs

  • Alcohols

Alcohol purchases are limited to 10 liters for the strongest of them. The constraint is however a little more flexible if your wish is to stock up on Belgian beers: it is possible to transport up to 110 liters in the event of a brewing discovery trip to Brussels or Namur.

Source: French Customs

  • Medicines

The transport of drugs is authorized if the quantities correspond to 3 months of personal treatment, without a prescription (if the quantities transported are greater, the prescription is necessary).

  • New vehicle

If a personal vehicle was purchased abroad, the supplier must provide a tax-free invoice. VAT at the French rate must then be paid to the public finance center closest to his domicile.

To navigate through all these rules, French customs have published a practical guide summarizing the formalities to be complied with, whether or not inside the European market. The purchase of certain goods – cultural goods, animals, plants, weapons and ammunition – are also subject to special formalities. The acquisition of psychotropic drugs, narcotics, attack dogs, counterfeits, certain rare animal and plant species as well as objects containing images of minors of a pornographic nature are prohibited.

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