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28/11/2006

Duty-free allowances for travel from third countries

On 28 November, The Ministers of finances of the EU reached political agreement on a proposal regarding duty-free allowances on goods carried by persons entering the European Union from third countries.

The Ministers requested the permanent representatives committee to finalise the text and to submit it for adoption without further discussion at a forthcoming Council meeting.

The proposal is aimed at revising and replacing directive 69/169/EEC on traveller allowances. It provides for an increase in duty-free allowances, in part to cater for the effects of inflation since they were last revised in 1994.

The Council's agreement is based on a compromise proposed by the presidency, of which the main elements are as follows:

– the value limit on duty-free allowances is increased from EUR 175 to EUR 430 for air and sea travellers, and from EUR 175 to EUR 300 for travellers by land (including by inland waterways);

– member states may apply different qualitative limits for duty-free imports of tobacco products (cigarettes, cigarillos, cigars, smoking tobacco) depending on whether they enter the EU by air (higher limit) or by land or water crossing (lower limit).

EU Council press release:

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/en/ecofin/91899.pdf