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What is my tax-free allowance when travelling to France via ferry?

When arriving in the EU, your tax-free goods allowance depends on whether you travel by sea or by land

Reader Question: I understand my personal tax-free goods allowance when travelling from the UK to the EU by car or train is €300 and €430 if travelling by sea or air. If I take my car on the ferry to our second home in France, which limit applies?

Since the UK left the EU and its customs union, UK second-home owners are limited in what they can bring to France as people are from other non-EU countries. 

Read more: Crossing French-UK border now like going to US say French customs

We asked French customs officials, who confirmed that a ferry is considered sea travel and so the €430 allowance applies, even if you take your car on the ferry. 

They said that these limits apply to all UK-France travellers whether, for example, French residents returning from a holiday or Britons visiting a second home. These are EU regulations and the lower allowance was designed to take into account the fact that certain member states have land borders with countries where prices are lower. The allowances are per person. 

Allowance aimed at UK tourists returning with souvenirs etc

The allowance for under-15s is €150-worth of goods. The allowances are mainly aimed at tourists visiting the UK and returning with souvenirs, gifts, luxury goods etc. They can apply to items like toys, perfumes and electronics and to UK-bought gifts for people in France. Items like furniture or DIY materials for a French home would not be included in this. Customs officials may make an assessment as to what items the allowances can apply to or not. 

Read more: Post-Brexit tax rules recap: Sending gifts between the UK and France

You should not be taxed on your ordinary personal effects (clothes, toiletries) which are ‘reasonably necessary for the trip’ and these will not be counted in the allowance calculation. 

Please note that separate allowances apply to cigarettes and alcohol and these are not counted in the €430.

Read more: Will Brexit mean caps on taking alcohol from France to UK

Related links

Applying for ‘returned goods relief’ to take items from France to UK

Recap of post-Brexit rules for bringing items into France from the UK

What you can and cannot bring into France from UK

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