The FINANCIAL — According to EU business, the European Union on December 1 increased its duty-free allowances for travellers arriving in the 27-nation bloc, with rules eased for wine and perfume but not for cigarettes.
Under the new regulations, which were agreed back in 2006 but come into effect now, someone travelling into the EU will be able to bring in a litre of spirits, four litres of wine, 16 litres of beer and 200 cigarettes without paying value added tax or customs duties.
On top of that, air and sea travellers will be able to bring in 430 euros worth of other goods — such as toys, perfume, electronic devices — duty free.
For those arriving by land that figure is reduced to 300 euros, to take account of "the special situation of member states that have land borders with countries where prices are significantly lower than in the EU," according to the European Commission.
The figures are up from 175 euros, with the new rules scrapping previous strict limits on the duty-free import of perfume, coffee and tea.
The new duty free rules for alcohol double the allowed amount of wine from two litres to four litres and introduce the 16-litre limit for beer.
The duty-free allowance for spirits remains unchanged at one litre.
The allowance for cigarettes has been a matter of strong debate, with some EU member states wanting the duty-free amount cut.
"Because of health considerations, some nations asked for this amount to be lowered," said EU Commission spokesman Maria Assimakopoulou, announcing the moves.
In the "compromise" deal, member states are allowed to introduce a tougher duty-free limit of just 40 cigarettes or to retain the current 200 cigarettes quota.
"Today's entry into force of new thresholds in duty-free travellers' allowances is good news for European travellers," said EU Taxation and Customs Union Commissioner Laszlo Kovacs.
"Many of the previous rules, which have been in place since 1969, were no longer relevant to today's world.