What to Know About French Customs Regulations

Paris airport duty free
anouchka / Getty Images

New travelers to France often ask how to find out about customs requirements for the country, including details on what they are allowed to bring in and the amounts permitted. It is also important to be aware of the customs regulations for when you return to your home country.

Duty-Free Items: What Can I Bring in and Out of France

U.S. and Canadian citizens may bring goods into or from France and the rest of the European Union up to a certain value before having to pay customs duties, excise taxes, or VAT (Value-Added Tax). Keep the following in mind:

U.S. and Canadian citizens aged 15 and over and traveling by air or sea may bring articles totaling 430 Euros (approx. $498) into France duty and tax-free. Land and inland waterway travelers can bring duty-free goods worth 300 Euros (approx. $347) in their personal luggage.

Individuals over 17 may also purchase and import certain duty-free items from France up to a certain limit. This includes tobacco and alcoholic beverages, motor fuel, and medications. Fragrances, coffee, and tea may now be imported into the EU with no restriction on amounts, as long as the value does not exceed the monetary limits listed above. Limits for other items are:

  • Cigarettes: 200 units
  • Cigarillos: 100 units (max. 3 grams each)
  • Cigars: 50 units
  • Still wines: 4 liters
  • Beer: 16 liters
  • Spirits over 22 degrees volume: 1 liter
  • Fortified wines, 22 degrees volume or less: 2 liters
  • Medications: Medicinal drugs for personal use may be imported in quantities sufficient for a 3-month treatment without prescription (or for longer than 3 months, with a prescription), provided they are carried in your baggage.
  • Motor fuel: When you enter France, the fuel contained in the standard tank of your private motor vehicle and in a spare fuel can with a maximum capacity of 10 liters is exempt from duties and taxes.

    Please note that cigarette and alcohol allowances are not made for travelers under the age of 17; these passengers are not allowed to bring any amount of these goods into France.

    Duty and tax exemptions are strictly individual. You cannot combine them.

    Items worth more than the maximum exempt amount will be subject to duties and taxes.

    You can bring personal items such as guitars or bicycles to France and not be charged any taxes or fees as long as the items are clearly for personal use. You may not sell or dispose of these while in France. All personal items declared to customs upon entry into France must be transported back with you.

    Money and Currency

    If you are coming from outside the EU and are carrying an amount of money equal to or greater than €10,000 (or its equivalent value in other currencies), you must declare this to customs upon arrival in, or departure from, France. In particular, the following must be declared: cash (banknotes).

    Illegal Items

    It is strictly prohibited to import, export or possess certain goods, including narcotics and psychotropic drugs (except when accompanied by certain documentation), attack dogs (unless accompanied by required documentation), counterfeit goods, certain plants and plant products deemed to be harmful to European plants. (For more information, consult the EU website).

    Bringing Your Pet to France

    Visitors can also bring pets (up to five per family). Each cat or dog must be at least three months old or traveling with its mother. The pet must have a microchip or tattoo identification and must be accompanied by a valid anti-rabies vaccination certificate and a veterinarian health certificate dated less than 10 days prior to arrival in France. A test showing the presence of the rabies antibody will be required as well.

    Keep in mind, however, you must check regulations for bringing your animals back home. In the U.S., for instance, you can be required to quarantine pets from other countries for weeks.

    Customs Regulations When You Leave France

    When you return to your home country, there will be customs regulations there as well. Be sure to check with your government before you go. For the U.S., highlights of customs regulations for those returning to the country include:

    • Most people can import up to $800 worth of items duty-free, so long as these items accompany you. The items must be for your personal use, your trip must have lasted at least 48 hours and you cannot have used the exemption within the past 30 days.
    • You can bring up to 200 cigarettes and up to 100 cigars though you can only bring Cuban cigars into the U.S. if you bought them in Cuba.
    • One liter of alcohol is allowed if you are at least 21, it is for personal use or a gift, and it is not prohibited in your state.

      More detailed information is provided on the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol website.

      More Information and Customs Tips

      For more information on French customs regulations and how to contact authorities with questions, consult the French Embassy Customs publication and the French Customs website.

      While you are traveling in Europe, save all your receipts. Not only is it helpful for dealing with customs officials when you return home, but you may be entitled to a refund of the taxes spent in France upon your return.

      You can fill out your U.S. customs form online before you return to save time.