I would like to take the following quantity of alcoholic beverages to the Netherlands from a non-EU country: 0.75 L of spirits, 3.0 L of wine, 0.7 L of beer.

I checked several websites, including the Tax and Customs administration website from the Netherlands but there seems to be contradicted information:

The IATA states:

  1. alcoholic beverages, for passengers aged 17 and older:
    • 1 liter of spirits over 22% volume, or non-denatured ethyl alcohol with more than 80% volume; or
    • 2 liters of spirits or aperitifs made of wine or similar beverages less than 22% volume, or sparkling wines or liquor wines; or
    • a proportional mix of these products; and in addition
    • 4 liters still wine; and
    • 16 liters of beer;

The taxation and custom union websites from the EU states:

Alcoholic beverages (a) a total of 1 litre of alcohol and alcoholic beverages of an alcoholic strength exceeding 22% vol, or undenatured ethyl alcohol of 80% vol and over (b); or a total of 2 litres of alcoholic beverages of an alcoholic strength not exceeding 22% vol.(b) a total of 4 litres of still wine, and 16 litres of beer (only for VAT and excise duty)

The tax and custom administration website of the Netherlands in the abbreviated version states:

1 litre of spirits, whisky for example, or 2 litres of wine or 16 litres of beer

Which clearly contradicts their information in a more detailed list:

Alcoholic products
You are not liable for tax for the import of: 1 litre of spirits or 2 litres of sparkling wine or 2 litres of fortified wine, such as sherry or port and 4 litres of non-sparkling wine and 16 litres of beer

So, which guideline am I to follow? I don't speak Dutch and therefore cannot locate this information in Dutch on the website of the tax and customs administration. Help from a Dutch speaker would be greatly appreciated!

  • 1
    As explained in the answer below, the Dutch version lines up with the IATA explanation and the EU web page, as it should be as those are EU rules. The English version on the Belastingdienst website was simply somewhat imprecise or inaccurate.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 18:11

1 Answer 1


From the Dutch customs website here: https://www.belastingdienst.nl/wps/wcm/connect/nl/bagage/content/hoeveel-alcohol-mag-ik-meenemen-van-buiten-de-eu (Google translate)

The first thing is, you must be 17 years or older, to bring any alcohol into the country. The second thing is, you can legally bring as much as you like, but you will have to pay customs duty and VAT above certain quantities. So if you exceed those amounts it won't get you in any trouble, but will cost you around €10 for an extra liter. Failing to declare it when entering the country is another story, so be honest about it.

The 'free' quantities are:

  • 4 liters of normal wine and 16 liters of beer. All bubbly wines, like champagne are not 'normal wines'. That's what your sources call 'still wine'.

  • 1 liter of strong liquor (above 22%) OR 2 litres of light liquor (up to 22%). A mix of those two is allowed where 1 litre of light liquor is counted as half a litre of strong liquor.

This matches the EU customs information, as far as I know these rules are normalized across the EU. The confusion probably comes with the definition of 'strong' and 'light' liquor. Somehow the English version of the Dutch customs site never mentions the 22% rule, which (imho) doesn't make it any clearer.

As you can see your quantities are well within the limits.

More uptodate (as of 2023-03-12) information can be found here:


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