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Confiscation of duty free liquids at EU airports - guide

31 July 2007
by eub2 -- last modified 31 July 2007

The European Commission adopted on 31 July 2007 a regulation to address the disruption faced by air passengers who arrive from third countries carrying duty free liquids bought abroad and who wish to transfer at an EU airport. At present, any quantity of liquid bought outside the EU that is greater than the limited amounts currently permitted in hand-baggage must be abandoned at the EU airport since there is no way of checking that it has been subject to similar security standards as liquids on sale in EU airports. The Regulation will allow the Commission to verify whether equivalent standards are applied in a third country and whether the overall standard of aviation security is satisfactory, thereby allowing liquids bought in duty free shops there to be allowed on aircraft in the EU. This will allow transit passengers arriving from these countries to carry their purchases onto their internal EU flight.


1) Does the new Regulation mean any changes or modifications to the current system for the moment?

No, for the moment the system stays the same. The new regulation does however represent a big step towards limiting confiscation of duty free liquids carried by transit passengers, since it paves the way for the Commission to adopt decisions that will grant exemptions for liquids purchased in airports in third countries, subject to verification of the security standards in force there. We expect the first of these decisions to be taken in the autumn of this year.

2) Will the new Regulation change anything for passengers arriving from third countries' airports?

Yes, in due course. Once the Commission considers the security measures (to be verified by the Commission on the case by case basis) applied by third countries in relation to liquids (secure supply chain, tamper proof bags etc) as equivalent to EU rules and a decision on the exemption of this country is taken, the duty free bought liquids from that third country (for example US) will no longer be confiscated at the point of transfer in Europe. For example, a bottle of wine bought in San Francisco Airport will no longer be confiscated from a passenger flying from San Francisco via Munich to Frankfurt at the point of transfer in Munich.

3) Will the new Regulation change anything for passengers leaving European airports?

The EU will seek reciprocal arrangements by which third countries whose standards have been found to be adequate by the EU will take a similar decision to accept EU security standards and permit transit passengers flying-in from the EU to keep their duty free liquids.

4) To which cases will the new Regulation apply?

To any case where liquids are bought at the duty free shops at the airports of a third country that is considered to have equivalent measures as the EU.

5) Why is such a new Regulation needed?

In order to improve passenger convenience. At the moment passengers arriving from third countries and transferring at Community airports are not allowed to take liquids bought in airport shops in third countries on board connecting flights when they change planes at an EU airport. The new Regulation makes exemptions to this prohibition possible and gives the Commission a toolbox to work with third countries in order to remedy this kind of disruptions.

Source: European Commission

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