How to Understand Customs in Europe while Backpacking


Customs allowances in Europe

Customs regulations are one aspect that can cause problems for travellers. However, in recent years much has been done to simplify customs regulations between the European Union (EU) countries.

When crossing land borders between EU countries by road or rail you are unlikely to be stopped as a matter of course, but routine customs checks are carried out from time to time. At sea and airports many countries operate a red, green and blue channel system:

  • The blue channel is for passengers travelling from other EU countries.
  • The green channel is for those from non-EU countries with nothing to declare.
  • The red channel is for those with dutiable or restricted goods they wish to declare to customs.

No matter where you are travelling from there are limits on the amount of goods you may import which have been purchased in a duty-free rather than a duty-paid shop.

Remember that apart from the usual duty-free tobacco and alcohol allowances other items are banned or restricted from import into most countries. These are mainly:

  • controlled drugs
  • pornography
  • firearms and dangerous weapons
  • counterfeit and fake goods
  • imports of money (cash) may be limited in some countries.

Dealing with problems at customs

It is worth remembering that, unfortunately, backpackers often attract extra attention from customs and may be subject to more random checks than other travellers. As such, the following advice may be helpful:

  • Double-check your duty-free allowances before leaving your previous stop.
  • If in doubt declare goods which you think might be restricted or over duty-free limits.
  • Remember that there are sometimes different customs allowances based on your country of residence and not just which country you are arriving from.
  • Keep receipts for items you have purchased recently, especially goods bought duty-paid.
  • Never be tempted to smuggle.
  • Always co-operate fully with any random checks.
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About the Author: Bruno Silva is an entrepreneur from Portugal with over 15 years of experience in Online Marketing. He is also a blogger and writes on variety of topics from online marketing to designs, cars to loans, etc.

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