Good things to know when preparing for your flight: Customs Regulations
One of the perks of flying is buying items duty or tax free at the airport or in flight. However, travellers must be aware that there are regulations on these purchases, and they must be declared at customs when entering another country. Many countries do not limit the amount of goods that passengers may carry through customs tax or duty free, but most EU member states impose tariffs on items above stated quantities.
Tax versus duty free
The difference between duty free and tax free is the final destination of the purchase. “Duty free” refers to products that would normally be taxed when exiting the country, and “tax free” classes products that would be subject to a country’s usual tax requirements. “Duty free” tends to cover cigarettes, tobacco, and some types of spirits, while everything else, such as cosmetics and electronics, tends to be tax free.
Inside and outside the EU
To claim duty or tax free on an item purchased in the EU, the passenger must have a ticket for a destination outside the EU, or for limited areas inside the EU, such as Livigno, Gibraltar, and the Canary Islands. Most areas of the EU are governed by the EU Tax Union, which follows the EU’s requirements on value-added tax.
When entering the EU, passengers can bring items that have no commercial status free of charge, but those with anything to be sold have a limited amount to carry before they must pay entry duty. For example, they are allowed 200-400 cigarettes or 50-100 cigars, depending on the combination of total tobacco products, and 1-4 litres of alcohol, depending on the alcohol content of each beverage.
When travelling from the EU to the UK, there is no limit on how much the passenger can take with him or her tax or duty free, but he or she will likely be questioned if carrying large amounts of alcohol or tobacco. In addition, travellers entering or leaving the EU with more than €10,000 in cash will need to declare this at customs. This law was put in place to stop money laundering, and funds going to terrorism. EU member states apply penalties to any travellers who fail to comply with customs declaration requirements.