When entering France or any country in the European Union, there is a limit on items tourists can bring into the country you are visiting without paying duty. With a country like France, it's also important for many travellers to know how much wine they can bring back home. Here are some tips on customs regulations in France that you should know about before you travel.
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 custom duties, excise taxes, or VAT (Value-Added Tax; called TVA in France).
Bringing goods into France without paying duty
- Visitors under 15 years can bring in goods worth up to €150
- Visitors can enter with items worth up to €300 euros if travelling by car
- Visitors can enter with items worth up to €450 if entering by air or sea
When entering France by air or sea, over 17 years old can bring the following tobacco products for personal use only:
- 200 cigarettes or
- 100 cigarillos or
- 50 cigars or
- 250 g of smoking tobacco.
If you have a combination, you must split the allowance up. For instance, you can bring 100 cigarettes and 25 cigars. Depending on how much these items cost are where you live, you might consider bringing cigarettes with you. French cigarette prices are set by the government, and are quite high.
When entering France by land, over 17-year olds can bring the following tobacco products for personal use only:
- 40 cigarettes or
- 20 cigarillos or
- 10 cigars or
- 50 grams of smoking tobacco.
The rules for combinations of any of these are the same as above.
Over 17-year olds can bring the following for personal use only:
- 1 litre of alcohol over 22 degrees volume or
- 2 litres of fortified wines that does not exceed 22% volume of alcohol or
- 4 litres of still wine or
- 16 litres of beer
- Fragrances, coffee, and tea may be imported into the EU with no restriction on the amount you bring in, but you must make sure that the value does not exceed the monetary limits listed above.
- Medicinal drugs are allowed for personal use, which is specified as amounts for a 3-month treatment without a prescription (or for longer than 3 months, with a prescription) and if they are carried in your luggage.
- Personal items like musical instruments or bicycles are allowed for personal use. But you may not sell or dispose of these while in France. Remember that all personal items declared to customs upon entry into France must be transported back with you.
If you exceed these limits, you must declare it and may have to pay a customs duty. You will probably be handed a customs form while still on board the airplane, which will help simplify this process.
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)
- Plants and plant products
- Coats, fur and leather shoes made of protected animals as listed by the CITES (Washington Convention) which includes ivory, tortoise shell, coral, reptile skin, wood from Amazonian forests.
- Counterfeit goods. While it is unlikely that you will be stopped if you have bought a mock Prada bag on the beach in the south of France, it is possible. So be aware that if you buy one of those, you might be fined twice the amount of the real price or even imprisoned. It is extremely unlikely, but be aware.
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 travelling with its mother. The pet must have a microchip or tattoo identification, and must have proof of rabies vaccination 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 animal back home. In the U.S., for instance, you can be required to quarantine pets from other countries for weeks.
Save Your Receipts for Customs
While you are there, 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.
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., here are some highlights of entry customs regulations:
- 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 USA if you have bought them in Cuba.
- One litre 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 on what you can take into France, as well as information on staying in France.
More Information before you travel to France
- Advance Travel Planning for a Budget Vacation
- France Packing Planner
- Packing Light for your French Vacation
- Check out these Essential Items for your Vacation to France
- Savings Tips in France
- Smoking in France
- Restaurant Etiquette and Tipping in France
- Guide to Traveling by Train in France