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Taxes on imported goods


When leaving on vacation or a business trip to a country outside the EU, and buying something there, make sure that you go through customs on the way back without surprises. This is important because sometimes you have to pay taxes on goods purchased outside the EU.

When do I have to pay taxes?

If you import goods from outside the EU worth more than 430 euros per person. It doesn't matter if you bought it yourself or received it as a gift. This is if you are traveling by plane or ship. If you enter the EU by car, fly in in a private jet or sail in a private boat, the total cost of tax-free goods that can be entered is only € 300 per person.

For drinks and cigarettes, there are generally separate rules.

From alcoholic beverages, excluding tax, you can import:

  • 1 liter of spirits such as vodka and whiskey (over 22% alcohol) or
  • 2 liters of light liquor, dessert wine such as sherry or sparkling wine such as champagne or cava (maximum 22% alcohol), or
  • 4 liters of wine and 16 liters of beer

You can import from cigarettes and other tobacco products without tax:

  • 200 cigarettes (1 block) or
  • 50 cigars, or
  • 250 grams of tobacco or
  • 100 cigarillos (small cigars maximum 3 grams)

In case you want to import more wine or cigarettes than is allowed without tax, you must submit a customs declaration and select the red corridor ("goods declared") at the airport.

TIP: If you are traveling with expensive items such as a camera or laptop, please also bring along a receipt confirming that you purchased these items in the EU.

If you bought something from the airport duty free shop (taksfree) before you travel, you will not need to pay tax upon return. The value of your purchase will also not be taken into account when calculating the value of the imported goods (430 euros per person). But be sure to keep your receipt. Because you must be able to prove that you made your purchase at the airport.

If you bought drinks, cigarettes or tobacco from a tax free shop at the airport and this is more than you are allowed to import without tax, you will have to pay tax on these goods.

What is forbidden to bring in anyway?

These are, of course, weapons and drugs. But there are other goods prohibited for import or those to which special rules apply. The availability of goods to which these special rules apply must be reported to customs.

Read more about this in the section "What is prohibited from being imported into the Netherlands?»


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