The European Union (EU) has done a lot to make travelling in Europe simpler. Within the EU, you can cross most borders without being checked and the euro makes it easier to shop around for bargains. Nevertheless you should be aware of a few basic rules in the areas of taxation and customs that might affect you as a traveller.
Customs regulations vary from country to country. Follow these general guidelines to be certain you will actually return home with the tempting articles you simply could not pass by!
Prior to your departure, you may want to register certain belongings you take abroad with you such as laptops, cameras and expensive watches, so that when returning home you will not be subject to paying duty on them. Registration can be done with customs at the international airport from which you are departing.
As for knowing what goods you should declare, salient advice is: “If you’re bringing it back with you, you didn’t have it when you left, and its total value is more than your exemption, it is subject to duty.” Upon boarding your return international flight, you will be asked to fill out forms detailing your purchases. Regulations vary, but usually travellers are allowed to bring in goods up to a certain value. Duty is charged on anything over that limit. It is a good idea to find out what forms of payment are accepted at customs in the event that you have duty to pay.
Limits on goods such as alcohol and tobacco products are usually very specific. Food can be among the trickiest items to bring home from Europe unless it is commercially packaged and cooked, or sweets or chocolates, which are usually acceptable. Avoid bringing anything requiring refrigeration, as a rule of thumb, such as home dairy products, meats, fruits and vegetables, all of which are usually prohibited.
More obvious heavily restricted and/or prohibited items include firearms, explosives, or narcotics (unless medically prescribed) and some types of fur.
Travelling with cash
As from 15 June 2007, travellers entering or leaving the EU and carrying €10 000 or more in cash (or its equivalent in other currencies or easily convertible assets such as cheques drawn on a third party) have to make a declaration to the customs authorities.
More detailed information on the European Commission webpage: