Bringing back alcohol
What can I bring in free of duty and tax from the EU?
You can import alcoholic beverages for private use or as a gift if you bring in the products in the vehicle in which you yourself arrive in Finland.
The guideline limits are:
- 110 litres of beer (over 0.5%)
- 10 litres of other alcoholic beverages (over 1.2% ethyl alcohol content, e.g. strong alcoholic beverages, long drinks made from ethyl alcohol)
- 20 litres of intermediate products (max. 22%, including aperitifs, e.g. vermouths, bitters, sherries)
- 90 litres of wine, of which 60 litres can be sparkling wine (includes long drinks and ciders produced through fermentation)
Cider and long drinks are not equated with beer.
In addition, if you don’t import beverages of some of these types you cannot replace them with more beverages of another type.
Travellers can import more alcohol than this for private use, but, if requested, they must be able to present credible proof that the amount of alcohol that exceeds the guideline limits is meant for private use.
However, a person travelling to or from Åland cannot be sold more than two litres of beer free of tax. Otherwise, the same quantity limitations that apply to imports from outside the EU also apply to imports from Åland, as well as from the Canary Islands.
110 litres of beer
e.g. 13 cartons (24 x 0.33 l) + 21 cans (0.33 l)
90 litres of wine
Of this total amount, 60 litres can be sparkling wine, ciders and long drinks
e.g. 10 boxes (12 x 0.75 l)
20 litres of intermediate products
Max. 22%, including aperitifs, e.g. vermouths, bitters, sherries
e.g. 3 boxes (12 x 0.5 l) + 4 bottles (0.5 l)
10 litres of other alcoholic beverages
over 1.2% ethyl alcohol content, e.g. strong alcoholic beverages, long drinks made from ethyl alcohol
e.g. 1 box (6 x 1.00 l) + 4 bottles (1.00 l)
Family and celebrations
Family is considered to include all persons living at the same address and in the same household. However, if relatives in direct lineage (parents, children, grandparents) import alcohol for a family celebration (e.g. a wedding, a birthday, some other significant occasion) without compensation as a gift, this kind of import of alcohol is also considered import for personal use even if the relatives are not living at the same address and are not part of the same household.
If you import larger quantities for the purpose of serving them at, for example, your birthday or wedding, you must, if requested, be able to prove that the celebration will take place.
However, please note that importing goods in exchange for any kind of compensation is considered commercial and is thus subject to tax regardless of how much you import. For instance, you cannot import alcohol for a group of friends.
What can I bring in free of duty and tax from outside the EU?
You can only import a limited amount of alcoholic beverages for personal use or as a gift:
- 4 litres of still wine (red, white and rosé) AND
- 16 litres of beer (over 0.5%)
1 litre of strong alcoholic beverages (over 22%) OR
2 litres of alcoholic beverages (max. 22%), for example aperitifs (such as vermouth, bitter, liqueur, sherry, long drinks, cider and sparkling wine)
16 litres of beer
e.g. 2 cartons (24 x 0.33 l)
4 litres of still wine
red, white and rosé wine
e.g. 5 bottles (0.75 l)
2 litres of alcoholic beverages
max. 22%, for example aperitifs (such as vermouth, bitter, liqueur, sherry, long drinks, cider and sparkling wine)
e.g. 4 bottles (0.5 l)
1 litre of strong alcoholic beverages
e.g. 1 bottle (1.00 l)
Time limits for importing alcohol
If you live in Finland and arrive in Finland from outside the EEA (EU countries + Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) other than by air, you may only import alcoholic beverages if your journey has lasted more than 20 hours. You are not allowed to import alcoholic beverages when you return from a less than 20-hour journey even if you pay the taxes.
If you live outside the EEA and arrive in Finland other than by air, you may import alcoholic beverages only if you are staying in Finland for more than 72 hours. If you are only travelling or transiting through Finland, this limitation does not apply.
The time limits do not apply to travellers arriving from an EU country. Likewise, the so-called 20-hour limit on alcohol import does not apply to the Åland Islands. However, a person travelling to or from Åland cannot be sold more than two litres of beer free of tax. Otherwise, the same quantity limitations that apply to imports from outside the EU also apply to imports from Åland, as well as from the Canary Islands.
In addition to the products subject to restrictions of quantity, air or sea travellers can import other products free of duty and tax for a maximum value of 430 euros. The maximum value limit for travellers using other modes of transport is 300 euros. The 300-euro limit is also applied when a passenger arrives in Finland aboard an aircraft or boat which is in recreational use.
Points to consider
Minimum ages laid down in the Finnish legislation on alcohol
In Finland, only persons aged 20 or over are allowed to possess and transport strong alcoholic beverages (over 22%).
The minimum age for possessing and transporting milder alcoholic beverages (max 22%, such as vermouths, bitters, sherries, long drinks, cider and sparkling wines, red, white and rosé wines as well as beer) is 18 years.
According to Finnish alcohol legislation, an alcoholic beverage is a beverage intended to be consumed that contains a minimum of 2.8 per cent by volume of ethyl alcohol.
A person under the age of 18, however, is not allowed to possess or transport a beverage that contains 1.2–2.8 by volume of ethyl alcohol.
Spirits are alcoholic, undenatured substances containing more than 80 per cent by volume of ethyl alcohol, irrespective of use, packaging and package markings. A private person is not allowed to import spirits or alcohol powder.
Products classified as being for personal use, are products that include taxes and which the passenger has carried in themselves from another EU Member State for their own personal use. Personal use means the passenger’s personal use of the goods as well as its use by his or her family, or a gift. Products handed over in return for any means of compensation are considered commercial imports.
For example, when a cousin of the bride arrives as a wedding guest, they cannot bring in alcohol for their cousin’s wedding and alcohol brought in cannot be served as thanks to volunteers helping out at the wedding; neither can a person bring in alcohol to their friends.
As a rule, family is considered to include all persons living at the same address and in the same household. However, if relatives in direct lineage (parents, children, grandparents) import alcohol for a family celebration (e.g. a wedding, a birthday, some other significant occasion) without compensation as a gift, this kind of import of alcohol is also considered import for personal use even if the relatives do not live at the same address and are not part of the same household.
Read more: Bringing alcohol from your trip
For passenger imported alcohol to be seen as non-commercial import for personal use as a tax-free gift, it must fulfil certain gift criteria. The gift must always be gratuitous and random. If the importer of the alcohol receives either direct or indirect remuneration of any kind, it is not a question of a gift, rather the delivery of the alcohol is commercial.
The concept of a gift is also its element of surprise, thus delivering alcohol regularly, even if it is gratuitous, cannot be considered a gift. The gift cannot be especially chosen by the recipient, nor can it be given for representation purposes or as advertising. A gift can only be given to a private person.
The value of a gift has not been specified in legislation. According to legal practices and taxation procedures, a gift is defined as “ordinary”, “reasonable” and “of low value”. In accordance with this, a reasonable quantity of alcohol brought in as passenger import can be given as a gift without a precise value limit, if the gift is given to a specific person and the value of the gift is reasonable, taking into account the giver's situation.
According to the Law on Inheritance and Gift Tax, the giver can give gifts to the amount of 4,000 euros over a period of three years, without the recipient having to pay taxes on them. The gift does not have to be given in connection with a special day. Giving the gift can be based on some kind of personal relationship between the giver and recipient.
A gift does not mean exactly the same thing as gratuitous delivery. Therefore, in situations where a passenger brings in a large quantity of alcohol and delivers all or a large portion of the alcohol to an unspecified group of private persons (e.g. work colleagues, members of an association, neighbours) to be used freely, the gratuitous delivery of the alcohol does not fill the criteria of a gift.
Read more: Alcohol in gift consignments
The law uses the term “reasonably prove”. In Customs' instructions the terms used are “explanation” or “account”.
In practice, when the passenger arrives in the country with their alcohol, they do not have to do anything, unless the customs officer specifically asks.
But if, at the time of entry into the country, the customs officer asks what the alcohol that exceeds the guideline limits will be used for, then a free-form oral explanation or report is usually enough. The customs officer may ask more specific questions in response to the passenger’s explanation or report. The quantity and quality of the products may be checked as well as the passenger’s ID and their contact information. No written material will have to be presented or written up, but that does not prevent the passenger from presenting such material. In most cases, the discussion with the customs officer and verification of the quantity brought into the country is sufficient.
In some instances, the passenger might be required to present additional information in written form; adhering to the instructions in the request for additional information.
You are allowed to bring in two litres of beer free of tax from or to the Åland Islands. Otherwise, the same quantity limitations that apply to imports from outside the EU also apply to imports from Åland, as well as from the Canary Islands.
Read more: Bringing back alcohol
Customs Information Service, Private customers
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