Have rules on bringing tobacco products into France changed?

The personal importation of tobacco products has seen set limits

Marlboro cigarettes at a London airport
The price of cigarettes varies between EU countries

Reader Question: I live by the French-Italian border, and buy my cigarettes in Italy because it is cheaper. A friend told me there were new rules about bringing tobacco products into France, is this true?

Prices for many tobacco products have risen since the start of 2024 with cigarette prices in France among the highest in the EU. 

France also has the second highest taxes on cigarettes in the bloc, after the Republic of Ireland.

New rules from March 29 effectively lifted the cap on how many cigarettes can be brought into France from another EU country. 

In September 2023, the Conseil d'État ruled that limits on bringing tobacco products into France from other EU nations went against EU rules, and therefore had to be changed within six months. 

Limits included: 

  • 200 cigarettes (one carton)
  • 100 cigarillos (small cigars)
  • 50 cigars
  • 250 grams of smoking tobacco

The new decree has removed all of these limits. 

Read more: Cross-border shopping: what do people in France head to Italy to buy?

Note: the tobacco must be for ‘personal consumption’

However, the rules around selling tobacco onwards remain. 

Tobacco brought into France by individuals must be “for personal consumption,” and cannot be sold to third parties, thus circumnavigating taxes and duties on the product.

The new law lays out a list of 12 criteria police officers and customs officials can use to check whether cigarettes are still being brought in for personal consumption or otherwise. 

These include: 

  • How the product is transported
  • Documents relating to the sale of the product
  • The quality of the products and their nature
  • How many are being transported
  • How they are packaged
  • The final destination of your journey in France, and if it is different to your usual place of residence

The full list can be found in the decree from March 27 here

Note these rules do not apply to bringing tobacco from countries from outside of the EU where previous restrictions are still in force.