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Europe has this regulation of certain amount of certain goods you can cary while traveling between EU countries. For example you can carry 800 cigarettes, 90 litres of wine etc.

Now some EU countries have this limit a bit lower and if you carry more than the limit you might have to prove the goods were bought in EU (provide a receipt) and are for your personal use. As I understand personal use is anything you get no money for (actual personal use - smoking, drinking – or using the goods as gifts, etc.).

However there is no information on how to prove the goods are for your personal use. Has anyone had any experience with this?

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    According to the official page there are a large number of factors to be considered besides the quantity: "The commercial status of the holder of the products and his reasons for holding them; the place where the products are located or, if appropriate, the mode of transport used; Any document relating to the products; The nature of the products;" Because of too many factors, I am afraid any experience will not be relevant to the next person so I have voted to close as too broad. – chx Sep 30 '15 at 5:39
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    "As I understand personal use is anything you get no money for " that may depend on country. Traditionally for UK customs personal use has meant to be used by the carrier only - buying beer and sharing it with others was not permitted, for example. What you are decribing would be called "non-commercial use" – CMaster Sep 30 '15 at 8:28
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    It doesn't really make a difference and in fact makes your question even more relevant but technically there is no regulation setting quantities you may import from one EU country to another. In fact, the EUCJ explicitly ruled that such a rule would be incompatible with EU law. The only requirement is always that you bring the goods for your personal use or to give away as gifts. – Relaxed Sep 30 '15 at 12:33
  • You will notice that, e.g. HMRC, is very careful to state that there is no firm limit and that you are merely “more likely to be asked questions” if you carry more than a certain amount. Similarly, the EU Commission describes these limits as “guide levels”. – Relaxed Sep 30 '15 at 12:36
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The official website from the EU Commission mentions several criteria:

  • The commercial status of the holder of the products and his reasons for holding them;
  • The place where the products are located or, if appropriate, the mode of transport used;
  • Any document relating to the products;
  • The nature of the products;
  • The quantity of the products.

There is always some judgment involved and generalising from individual experience might therefore not be very useful but if you really need to carry more than 90 litres of wine for your personal use across a border, then you presumably would be able to explain why. I suspect the question is puzzling because you do not really need 90 litres of wine for your personal use. As far as documentary evidence goes, anything could help (evidence of past consumption, evidence that you are a collector, evidence you have enough money to afford so much wine without reselling it at some point, etc.) but a random check is not necessarily very likely.

If you read between the lines, you can see the quantities are quite generous (compared to what you can carry between just about any other pair of countries, especially for alcohol) and the criteria are designed to provide cover to the police in obvious cases. That's purely a guess but I suspect that if you come back from Scotland with twenty bottles of whisky, carefully packed in your trunk, all of them different, you should be able to argue they are for your personal use successfully. If you have thousands of identical cigarettes in some hidden compartment in a truck, you can't turn around and somehow prove they are for “personal use” if you get caught because it's obvious you were trying to smuggle them.

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    The quantities are not that generous if you consider that there is no requirement that the items should be for immediate personal use and that both tobacco, beer, wine and spirits have relatively long shelf life and do not spoil easily. If you smoke 20 cigarettes a day, the allowed 800 cigarettes will not even last for six weeks and if you live in an EU country with high tobacco taxes, you may have a valid cause for bringing more than 800 cigarettes for personal use from another EU country without having a reasonable way to prove that they actually are for personal use. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Sep 30 '15 at 14:34
  • @Tor-EinarJarnbjo The fact you smoke 20 cigarettes a day could be a start… But I am not a smoker and I was mainly going by the amount of wine, which should last three to six months even for some pretty heavy consumption. I do enjoy a good wine and often buy some when I go to France and 90 L is more than I have space for in my trunk when I come back from holiday! It's also very generous compared to what you can bring from outside the EU (say Switzerland), it means you don't have to worry about it at all when you come across some interesting products. – Relaxed Sep 30 '15 at 14:46
  • But it's true that if your goal is evading taxes on tobacco entirely, things could be more difficult and I will nuance the sentence. – Relaxed Sep 30 '15 at 14:46

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