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World Travelers and Customs | What can or cannot you bring?

Turning too often world travelers back from distant trips at Dutch airports with too many excise goods or prohibited items in their luggage. In order to point out to these globetrotters what is and is not allowed, Customs started a mega multimedia campaign last year. This campaign should help world travelers returning in The Netherlands avoid making mistakes. For your convenience, we have listed the most common rules below.

Holidaying in Vanuatu, visiting a relative in the Philippines or go to Kuala Lumpur flying for a conference – it's very common these days. But even though we are all world travelers, not everyone knows that there are laws and regulations for what we can take back from destinations outside the EU. Admittedly, those regulations are also a bit numerous and complex.

Customs Apps and Social Media

That is why Customs makes it easy for travelers, with, among other things, a special app (click here for android, click here for iOS). In addition, the Dutch Customs has created accounts on Facebook, Instagram en Twitter† There it is easy to check or ask which souvenirs are allowed to enter the Netherlands – whether or not against payment of excise duty or import duties – and which are not. Anyone who prepares for his foreign trip in this way will not be faced with unpleasant surprises (additional tax, fine, confiscation) when he returns. To give you an idea of ​​what is and what is not allowed, we have listed a number of common rules for you below.

Drink and cigarettes OUTSIDE OF THE EU

Customs and amount of tobacco / cigarettes
Customs and amount of tobacco / cigarettes

You can start from this amount of drink, liqueur and bubbles OUTSIDE OF THE EU take it to the Netherlands tax-free.

Wine and beer

Wine and beer. How much can you bring?
Wine and beer. How much can you bring?

You can bring 4 liters of wine and 16 liters of beer. The wine must not be a 'sparkling wine' (bubble wine), but must be regular wine, such as red wine, white wine or rosé.

Spirits, liqueur and bubbles

Bring customs and spirits or liqueur
Bring customs and spirits or liqueur

In addition to wine and beer, you can also bring the following:

  • 1 liter of spirits such as vodka and whiskey (more than 22% alcohol), or
  • 2 liters of light liqueur, liqueur wine such as sherry or sparkling wine such as champagne or cava (maximum 22% alcohol)

A combination of these 2 groups of drink is allowed, as long as you do not have more than 2 liters in total. In addition, 1/2 liter of spirits counts for 1 whole liter of light liqueur.

Cigarettes and Tobacco

  • 200 cigarettes (1 carton), or
  • 50 cigars, or
  • 250 grams of tobacco, or
  • 100 cigarillos (small cigars of up to 3 grams)

Drink and cigarettes WITHIN THE EU

A box of tasty French wine or a few cases of Belgian beer for your own use is no problem. But there are limits. Below are the maximum quantities. You are only allowed to bring drinks if you are 17 years or older.

Wine, beer and spirits

  • 110 liters of beer
  • 90 liters of wine, of which a maximum of 60 liters of sparkling wine such as champagne, prosecco or cava
  • 20 liters of light liqueur or liqueur wine such as sherry and port (maximum 22% alcohol)
  • 10 liters of spirits, such as vodka, whiskey and rum (more than 22% alcohol)

Cigarettes and Tobacco

Cigarettes and Tobacco Rules - Customs
Cigarettes and Tobacco Rules – Customs
  • 800 cigarettes (4 cartons)
  • 1 kilo of tobacco
  • 200 cigars
  • 400 cigarillos (small cigars of up to 3 grams)

Never take it in your luggage

Never take it in your luggage
Never take it in your luggage

It should come as no surprise, but Customs absolutely does not allow you to take this with you:

  • narcotics, such as hashish, cocaine and heroin
  • weapons, fake weapons, pepper spray, ammunition and explosives
  • protected animal and plant species
    Also no products made from it, such as crocodile leather shoes or ivory jewelry.

Separate rules and exceptions

  • medicines
    Usually you can just take it with you. But sometimes you need a medical certificate. Read more at: Can I take my medicines abroad?
  • counterfeit items
    If you bring it for your own use, we won't make it difficult. If you take them for trade, we will confiscate them.
  • pets
    Read what to do if you take your pet on a trip.
  • meat, fish and dairy
    Are you from an EU country? Then you can take that with you. Are you from a country outside the EU? Then you are not allowed to bring meat and dairy. Fish is allowed, up to 20 kilos.
  • plants, vegetables, fruits and flowers 
    Never take plants, vegetables, fruit and flowers back to the Netherlands just like that. Import rules apply to plants, vegetables, fruit and flowers. Read on the website of the Dutch Food Safety Authority (NVWA) what you need to do for this.
  • very old products or products that are of great value to a country
    For example, art, antiques and books that are older than 100 years. But also a piece of an old ruin. You can't always just take it with you. Are you in doubt? Then ask whether you need a permit. This is possible, for example, at the Dutch embassy in the country where you purchase the item. Or at the Customs of that country.
  • money
    Are you taking € 10.000 or more with you? Or that amount but in a different currency? And are you from outside the EU? Then you have to file a declaration with Customs. You do not have to pay tax, but Customs must know that you have the money with you. Read more at: How much money can I take with me on a trip?

Ask Customs a question?

Ask Customs a question
Ask Customs a question

Is it still not completely clear after reading all the information on this page or do you still have questions? To be sure, search for the correct answer in the Customs app (click here for android, click here for IOS) or quickly ask your question via one of the social media channels of Customs. They can be found in 2020 Facebook, Instagram en Twitter : )

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  • are questions asked here also answered? (see question from Joke Bunt)
    My question: can I bring gluten-free bread to Israel?

  • We're going to Canada in a little while. I want to bring gluten-free stroopwafels and crackers. Is that allowed.

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