Buying alcohol when travelling abroad
When returning from a trip abroad, there are no charges on alcohol you bring in for private use. The quantity of alcohol you can bring in without paying any charges depends on where you buy the alcohol (i.e. another EU country or a country outside the EU).
There are some rules you must obey no matter where you buy the alcohol:
- You must be at least 20 years old;
- The alcohol must be for your or your family’s¹ private use;
- You must transport (or carry) the alcohol yourself.
From another EU country
From a country outside the EU
How much alcohol may I bring back?
For your/your family’s¹ private use.
Do I have to pay any charges on the alcohol?
Only if you want to bring in more than the quantities of alcohol above.
The quantity limits apply to all the above categories of alcoholic products. Thus, you can bring alcohol from several categories; however, to avoid incurring charges, the quantities may not exceed the limits for each category. For example, you may bring 2 litres of fortified wine, 4 litres of wine and 16 litres of strong beer.
Definitions of each category of alcoholic products can be found on the Alcohol page.
Bringing in alcohol from another EU country
If you buy alcohol in another EU country, you can bring in the quantity of alcohol that is regarded as being for your/your family’s¹ private use. Private use includes offering alcohol to others in the context of, i.e., weddings or social events. You may also gift alcohol on individual occasions, provided that you do not accept any payment.
When Swedish Customs assesses whether the alcohol is for your/your family’s¹ private use, the following quantity limits are applied²:
- 10 litres of spirits;
- 90 litres of wine (not more than 60 litres of sparkling wine);
- 20 litres of fortified wine; and
- 110 litres of beer.
If the quantity of alcohol you are bringing in is above these quantity levels, it is your obligation to demonstrate to the customs officer that the quantity is reasonable for your/your family’s¹ private use. The amount of alcohol is not the sole determiner in assessing whether the alcohol is intended for your private use. Swedish Customs will make a holistic assessment, considering all relevant circumstances.
If a customs officer stops you at the border and assesses that the alcohol you have with you is not for your private use, a suspicion of smuggling or tax violation will be registered.
- If a tax violation is suspected, the alcohol will be confiscated and a tax investigation will be opened (on the basis of Act (1998:506) on excise duty checks on consignments etc. of alcoholic goods, tobacco products and energy products). Once the alcohol has been confiscated, it is your obligation to demonstrate that it is intended for private use.
- If smuggling is suspected, the alcohol will be confiscated. It is incumbent on Swedish Customs to substantiate that a smuggling offence has been committed. If this cannot be substantiated, the prosecutor may end the investigation or the court may dismiss the charge. Confiscation of the goods is then annulled. On annulment of the confiscation, Swedish Customs may seize the alcohol for a tax investigation.
Note that, at the border, it is the individual customs officer who assesses the reasonability of considering the alcohol as being for private use.
¹ Family is those closest to you and living in the same home (e.g. wife or husband). In this connection, Swedish Customs refers to a decision of the Skåne and Blekinge appeal court (case number B2328-04, 20 April 2006). In the absence of a ruling from Sweden’s supreme court, said decision is regarded as precedential.
² Lag (1994:1564) om alkoholskatt (the Swedish Act on Excise Duty on Alcohol).
Bringing in alcohol from a country outside the EU
If you buy alcohol from a country outside the EU, or from an area outside the EU’s fiscal territory, you may only bring in a certain quantity (per person) without paying any charges.
- 1 litre of spirits or 2 litres of fortified wine (sparkling wines included therein)
- 4 litres of wine
- 16 litres of strong beer
If you are resident in Sweden, the right to bring alcohol into Sweden without paying charges is conditional on you being abroad for more than 20 hours or making the return journey with an aircraft on a commercial flight.
If you wish to bring in alcohol above the charge-free quantity, you must pay customs duty, VAT and any other taxes on the excess alcohol. You must also declare the alcohol to Swedish Customs by choosing the red lane when crossing the border.
On any alcohol above the charge-free quantity that you bring in from a country outside the EU, you must pay customs duty, VAT and Swedish alcohol tax.
- Spirits: customs duty, SEK 4 per litre; tax, SEK 265 per litre.
- Fortified wine: customs duty, SEK 2 per litre; tax, SEK 85 per litre.
- Wine: customs duty, SEK 1 per litre; tax, SEK 38 per litre.
- Strong beer: customs duty, SEK 3 per litre; tax, SEK 21 per litre.
If you wish to bring in alcohol above the charge-free quantity from outside the EU’s fiscal territory (e.g. from Åland or the Canary Isles), you only have to pay Swedish alcohol tax.
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