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09-12-2015 10:20 pm  #1


Countries info: SWE ITA FIN LV, NL, DE, LUX, NO, CH, PL, GR

As a way of saying thanks and giving back, I am going to share my knowledge (accumulated in over a decade of travelling whilst a smoker) on tobacco in various EU countries. Not all of this may be relevant to everyone, though I found that I loathed going to a new country without knowing beforehand where to buy my cigarettes and whether it made sense to bring some with me.

So, these posts may or may not be useful to some of us, though I guess that if someone has another reason to go to a country (and not specifically for a baccy run), then it'll be useful to know.

I don't smoke HRT so generally don't watch those prices, but I will speak about it if I remember the prices in a particular place.

I could write about France and Belgium, but you all know about these of course, probably better than I.

Please feel free to split posts / move to another part of the forum / whatever you wish to do with them.

So, to start with:

Sweden:

Cigarettes are somewhere between German and French prices, between 6.00 and 7.00 EUR / pack. These used to be 20 packs, however I hear that they have now moved to 19 packs. However, the Law dictates only a MAXIMUM price, and substantial savings can be had by buying them by the carton, in smaller shops. As I understand, any shop can and will legally sell Duty Paid tobacco, so do not be surprised when the video store down the road, or the flower shop sells cartons for 15 to 25% less of the price of the ubiquitous Pressbyran (Sweden's WHSmith equivalent, except it's much better). Back in the days in which 20 Marlboro Lights would cost 39 Kr, I could buy perfectly legal cartons for 295 at the video store. The choices will be limited, as shops that only sell tobacco "on the side" would typically have a couple flavours of Marlboro and a couple flavours of Prince and that's it, but it pays to shop around. 

Buying fags at the supermarkets is typically annoying. Very few of the very large ones have an actual tobacco counter; what most others do is, have a series of cards on display, with the picture of all the different packs they have. You pay at the cashier and they scan / validate that card. You then have to go and insert the cards one by one into a vending machine inside the shop, and will get your packets one by one. This is apparently a security measure (which I have seen in some Belgian supermarkets as well).

Whatever you do, try and avoid buying at the airport Airside: some airports will sell you cartons of DUTY FREE cigarettes, on which they will then charge swedish duty on, and you're left to explain why you are carrying four cartons of duty free fags, from a country that shouldn't have sold you them on an inter-EU flight in the first place, with only a receipt in SWEDISH to say that duty has been applied at the point of sale (if you haven't foolishly thrown it away, that is). I've been there and done that, and it took a while to talk myself out of that one. If you must buy at the airport, buy LANDSIDE at the pressbyran BEFORE you pass security.

Alcohol is insanely expensive, and available only in government shops in restricted hours (which are unsociable for anyone with a full time job). This is done to attempt to reduce alcohol consumption. Also, you must be 20 years or older to buy booze, and 19 or older to drink it in a pub/restaurant. They are very strict about this. If you want to be shocked by their booze prices, go here: http://www.systembolaget.se/

On top of that, all cans and plastic containers have a 'pant' of around 10 to 50p which is refunded at any supermarket without need for receipts. As much as you don't want to be buying drinks there, you will have to drink *something*, and even a bottle of water or milk will get you slapped with that.

Also, my personal advice is to stick to cans of soft drinks. Those get re-melted to recycle the alluminium. The soft drink bottles are made of very hard, resilient plastic, and merely get washed. (This also applies to Denmark, Norway, and some but not all German / Finnish bottles)

I personally know at least three Swedes who use them to pee in, then simply empty them and recycle.

I do not trust the automated bottle washers that much. I think most of you will concur.

Transport works like clockwork, and is expensive: a bus/tram trip will cost you about 20-25 Kr. They run frequently, at the times stated, and 24 hours in major cities such as Stockholm and Gothenburg. 

Taxis are all luxury vehicles: BMWs 500  series, Mercedes E class, and of course the Volvo S80s are the sort of wheels you'll see. They cost like you're sitting in one, too. A bit less than the hated Dutch taxis, still, but they definitely don't come cheap. They are, however, very safe and reliable.

Last edited by Darkpassenger (11-12-2015 12:52 pm)


When cross-border shopping, take your Statement of Truth and supporting evidence. ALWAYS record FROM THE MOMENT YOU GET OFF THE BOAT / PLANE and NEVER EVER sign their notebook!

Do not divulge any information which could identify you as Border Force may take your posts here and attempt to quote parts of them out of context in court in order to try to discredit you.
 

09-12-2015 10:31 pm  #2


Re: Countries info: SWE ITA FIN LV, NL, DE, LUX, NO, CH, PL, GR

Finland:

My time in Finland was very brief, so I don't know much.

Cigarettes come in packs of various sizes: I've seen 20s, 25s, and 30s, with the larger ones being slightly cheaper per unit. 6.10 - 6.50 Euro per 20 seems the average, and again there is a maximum price by law.

One IMPORTANT point about customs in Finland is that you may be tempted to go on a day trip to Estonia from Helsinki (it's a 2-hour boat ride for about 20 euro return), where cigarettes cost 32-34 euro for 200. Finnish law states that, in accordance to EU regulations, any amount of tobacco can be brought for personal use, however it MUST have health warnings in BOTH Finnish and Swedish, and any tobacco that does not is limited to 200 cigarettes per person. Now, I have heard that some craftier cross-border shoppers have gone through the hassle of getting a hold of stickers with health warnings in Finnish and Swedish, to attach on Estonian cigarettes, but this is probably more hassle than one should care for unless they live there. Customs WILL seize based on this.


When cross-border shopping, take your Statement of Truth and supporting evidence. ALWAYS record FROM THE MOMENT YOU GET OFF THE BOAT / PLANE and NEVER EVER sign their notebook!

Do not divulge any information which could identify you as Border Force may take your posts here and attempt to quote parts of them out of context in court in order to try to discredit you.
     Thread Starter
 

09-12-2015 10:40 pm  #3


Re: Countries info: SWE ITA FIN LV, NL, DE, LUX, NO, CH, PL, GR

Italy

Italy's cigarettes are fairly cheap for EU standards - 5.20 Euro for Marlboro Lights, all the way down to many many brands at 4.00 and 3.80 Yesmokes (Yesmokes are another interesting story on their own, and they have caused cigarette prices to plummet - worth a read on their site, but that is off topic).

Golden virginia is 7.20 for 40 grams (most HRT is sold in 40-gram pouches).

Prices of cigarettes is the same everywhere by Law. In fact, it's not the shop that is selling you cigarettes, but rather the Government, who has a monopoly. The tobacconist is merely a government's agent who receives a commission. 10 packs are ubiquitous, and cost exactly half of a 20 pack. Prices are here, and all tobacconists MUST sell at these prices:

http://www.agenziadoganemonopoli.gov.it/wps/wcm/connect/Internet/ed/Monopoli/Tabacchi/prezzi/prezzi_pubblico/

Of note - Tobacco can only be bought in tobacco shops - these display a white T on a black background, and few coffee shops that do tobacco as well (These will have a T sub-license, that is they are tied to one T shop somewhere else and resell their products - typically for only a 1% profit margin, but just the fact that they have cigarettes will draw customers to their venue). You will not find tobacco in supermarkets, or petrol stations (except for motorways, where they will have a T license). This actually causes a problem if you are out of smokes at night - Rome, for example, has only one or two places where one can buy cigarettes in the middle of the night if they are foreign: whilst vending machines abound, they require an italian ID card to verify age before they'll let you buy anything, so if you run out of fags at some ungodly hour, you need a local!

If prices change, they change overnight without warning, to avoid people stocking up (or tobacconists stocking up the day before and selling at the day after's price).

Most English brands can be actually had, but are not commonly smoked. The best way to get these is either at the Landside shops in low-cost airline airports that serve UK destinations, or if you are in Italy for a short while, just talk to a tobacconist, who will order them for you and typically will have them available for you within 3-4 days (some may do faster). They lose nothing if you don't show up and buy them, as they can just return them to the government unsold, and so they will order them for you.

You will undoubtedly see a few dozen brands that you've never heard of. This is because, once upon a time, Italian manufactured brands carried a lower excise than imported ones.Nowadays, this is no longer the case, and besides no cigarettes except Yesmokes are being manufactured in Italy anymore anyway. Also, Italian tobacconists MUST stock ALL the "italian" brands (but don't have to stock the "foreign" brands that actually sell). Generally speaking, they all suck (Diana being the most smokable amongst them, but it still sucks), and with the pricing incentive long gone, only old loyal smokers consume them. Yes, I punished myself whilst there to try them out. Curiosity and all that

If you like cigars, and IF you can find them (and that's a big IF), try a "Toscano Del Presidente". It is a limited edition (they release a batch whenever the hell they feel like it and that's it for a long while) cigar quite unlike any other I have tried. 

San Marino has somewhat lower prices - about 80 cents less on premium brands -- though I am not sure where it stands in customs. It is not part of the EU, but it is part of the EU customs union. Plus, it is kind of out of the way from other major cities.

Booze is cheap - and can be *very* cheap. French prices on wines / beers (although the wines will be Italian and a supermarket manager would not be found dead selling you French wine). Spirits are again, around French prices. 95% pure grain alcohol can be had also in supermarkets (They use it to make their own Limoncello, to disinfect baby bottles, etc).

Of note, like in Latvia, always CALL a taxi rather than hail one. They will fiddle with the meter, take you for a run around, add spurious charges, "forget" the meter and "estimate" the fare, and rip you off in every which way they can. Never accept a flat fee for a ride that is within the city and outskirts - within predefined areas they MUST stick to the meter. Being offered a flat fee means the meter would cost you considerably less, *ESPECIALLY* if you are being told it's a special price just for you. If you must have a taxi for a long journey, call a few companies and get quotes, then either pick the better one or negotiate that with a driver.

The only exception to this is flat fares to airports from some cities. These should be *Advertised* in the taxi tariff sheet. If it is, then it's actually cheaper than the meter would be to take you there. The meter will still run (in case you change your mind and step off halfway, which is well within your rights) but you will pay the flat fare once at the airport.

Also note that airports are often in not the same municipality as the city they actually serve. As such, there may well be that municipality's own taxis in attendance. These are legally allowed to be there, and can then take you wherever you direct them, but they ARE GENERALLY MORE EXPENSIVE than the ones from the city you are trying to get to. Check that the taxi you're about to board is from the city of say, Rome, and not from the municipality of Fiumicino. 

Luggage can be charged for but they will try to overcharge. Each taxi must have a copy of the (city council mandated - in Italian and very often English) tariffs openly displayed and if it's hidden, you know they are up to something. 

If this happens (unlike in Latvia, where they don't care) threathen to call the cops, and if that does not solve it, DO CALL the cops. They know about this and will most likely take your side.

This happens to all foreigners but *systematically* so to those of oriental ethnicity, especially the Japanese. This is because Japanese tourists are used to paying insane taxi fares at home and would not argue. Taxi drivers learned this fairly quick.

Last edited by Darkpassenger (13-12-2015 1:29 pm)


When cross-border shopping, take your Statement of Truth and supporting evidence. ALWAYS record FROM THE MOMENT YOU GET OFF THE BOAT / PLANE and NEVER EVER sign their notebook!

Do not divulge any information which could identify you as Border Force may take your posts here and attempt to quote parts of them out of context in court in order to try to discredit you.
     Thread Starter
 

09-12-2015 10:45 pm  #4


Re: Countries info: SWE ITA FIN LV, NL, DE, LUX, NO, CH, PL, GR

Latvia

Maximum Prices are roughly the same for all brands (plus or minus 20 euro cents or so), though discounts can be had - Marlboro Lights 3.40, but I managed to buy entire cartons for 28.75, so it pays to shop around. RIMI and NARVESSEN seem to offer the best deals.

NARVESSEN is ubiquitous: you cannot walk five minutes without encountering one, and will offer mini-cartons of two or five packs at a heavily discounted price (though which brands are on offer varies between each single outlet).

RIMI offers the best deal on cartons for some brands (Marlboro Gold 28.75 euro a sleeve) and also gives loyalty card points on cig purchases, 1% of the amount spent goes into loyalty credit, which can then be used to buy stuff for free (but you cannot buy booze or tobacco with that).

Spirits other than Vodka are slightly dearer at RIMI than French supermarket prices, I found. No real point going there for whiskeys, cognacs, etc.

However, after I bought my vodka, I was told by a local that this chain http://www.spiritsandwine.lv/en is the best place to go buy booze - it is mainly targeted at Swedish cross-border shoppers, who typically go abroad to buy booze (Swedish booze prices are about as horrifying as UK cigarette prices, with cheap vodka going for 30 pounds/litre, 2.5 pound cans of beer, etc, whilst their cigarettes are around German prices)

Food shopping is very good. I loved the megasupermarkets. Rimi Hypermarkets are even bigger than Coquelles' Carrefour! Interestingly, there seems to be no beef for sale in Latvia even at the largest, most massive of supermarkets I've seen in my life. All the meat is pork or chicken - and I don't quite know why!

There is also a specialist tobacconist shop in the centre which I can probably pinpoint if I look at the map.

I don't smoke rollups so I did not even look those prices up, though I happened to see a tub of Winston tobacco for 18.75 (I think it might have been 120g or so) - I think this does not beat Belgium, and definitely not Luxembourg. Vodka can be had for about 6 euro/litre for the cheap stuff, and 9 to 16 eur/litre for premium brands.


Airport to city is a bus ride for 1.15 euros (or 12-15 euros on a taxi), but you must buy tickets beforehand at the ubiquitous NARVESSEN or they will cost more (2 eur) if you buy on the bus. However, the airport itself has 2 or 3 NARVESSEN shops on the landside. These are small shops so I don't know how much stock they got. Public transport runs like clockwork and the city has an app to look it up. The city is very clean, and safe (if you stick to basic common sense and don't go asking for trouble).

Latvians have told me that as a tourist hailing a taxi off the street you WILL get ripped off, and that the best thing to do is to call a reputable taxi company. I always used Baltic Taxi - they all speak English at the phone, and will send you an English speaking driver when you speak to them in English. I found them to be always professional and honest they did not take me on a "sightseeing tour" to run the meter up. Taxis are, on the whole extremely cheap, with a 15 minute ride costing about 5 Euro.

I was told that some more rogueish individuals may offer you Russian / Ukrainian cigarettes. Needless to say, this is illegal and should not be done, though if you don't know the language, you may well be fooled. In Latvian cigarette packs, the "smoking kills" message is "Smēķēšana nogalina". Latvian alphabet is latin (with bars over some vowels and other quirky pronounciation accents - the bar just means it is a double vowel and should be pronounced for roughly twice the time). Do not be fooled by a pack of smokes that says "Курение Убийств", because that's Russian. Better yet, stick to RIMI, NARVESSEN, and the likes - that's where you get the best prices anyway. Next time I go, I will test the specialist tobacconist and see if he can give me a bulk deal that beats RIMI - will update this in a few months. 

Lastly, a word of advice for single males - there are elaborate scams going on perpetrated by young women, and you WILL be targeted if you spend as much as a day or two there or if you go to the bars in Riga. Inbox me if you wish to know more, as this is off topic (I really wouldn't post about it at all, but it is SO prevalent that if you don't know about the tricks, it WILL happen to you).

Last edited by Darkpassenger (10-12-2015 8:33 pm)


When cross-border shopping, take your Statement of Truth and supporting evidence. ALWAYS record FROM THE MOMENT YOU GET OFF THE BOAT / PLANE and NEVER EVER sign their notebook!

Do not divulge any information which could identify you as Border Force may take your posts here and attempt to quote parts of them out of context in court in order to try to discredit you.
     Thread Starter
 

10-12-2015 5:33 am  #5


Re: Countries info: SWE ITA FIN LV, NL, DE, LUX, NO, CH, PL, GR

Interesting posts Darkpassenger.

JMK.

 

 

10-12-2015 9:49 am  #6


Re: Countries info: SWE ITA FIN LV, NL, DE, LUX, NO, CH, PL, GR

DP
Thanks for taking the time to post this.

Excellent info. Topic now 'pinned' so it does not get lost


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Please ensure you do not divulge any information which could identify you as Border Force will use your posts here as evidence against you in court.

 
 

10-12-2015 2:05 pm  #7


Re: Countries info: SWE ITA FIN LV, NL, DE, LUX, NO, CH, PL, GR

Thanks for the insight into your travels, Much appreciated..

"I could write about France and Belgium, but you all know about these of course, probably better than I."
I wouldn't mind reading what you have to write about these too countries, I'm always interested in other peoples exploits.

Garry


START HERE, By answering these questions. http://n2d.boardhost.com/viewtopic.php?id=1526
Useful documents for download : http://n2d.boardhost.com/viewforum.php?id=34
Goods been seized, Start here.  http://n2d.boardhost.com/viewtopic.php?id=78
SOT Thanks to TBD. http://n2d.boardhost.com/viewtopic.php?id=373
 

10-12-2015 2:15 pm  #8


Re: Countries info: SWE ITA FIN LV, NL, DE, LUX, NO, CH, PL, GR

Germany

German cigarettes are between 5.50 and 6.50 for roughly 18/19, however the prices and pack size seem to change every time the Finance minister's pet rat menstruates (and a rat menstruates every 3 and a half days). So you will find a variety of packs and sizes on sale at the same time. Vending machines in the street offer the better price per unit (the idea being that there isn't any running cost / salary of someone who sells them to you), but require some sort of machine readable ID to buy.

To give an idea, one day I was there and wanted Marlboro Lights. The gas station had packs with 16, 17, 18, 19, 23, 27, 32 and 38 cigarettes in. Confusion marketing at its best. I *had* to whip out the calculator, much to the bemusement of the girl who, in the middle of the night, laughed and said that it would be a few cents at most, and the 38 pack won the challenge. It was 20 cents cheaper than buying 2x 19. I remarked that this must be the German Government's way to ensure teenagers brush up on their math when they smoke without their parents' knowledge, and that was the start of a long and pleasant conversation, but this is indeed another story.

Discount supermarket chains sell their own brands at slightly cheaper prices.

German police like to stop UK cars coming in from Poland as they know that we like bringing cigs back, and they target cross border shoppers much like some other upstanding public servants we know about. German guidelines have the same MIL as the UK, and their site says you must either stick to those or *prove* that they are for own use. I will get the actual page and update soon, though the site is www.zoll.de - how you can prove that they are yours I am not sure, but the burden of proof is (at least from what their site says), on you.

Alcohol is very cheap, possibly even cheaper than France for beers and spirits (though not as cheap as neighbouring Poland), perhaps very slightly more expensive wines. There wre many alcohol megastores close to the Danish border, for the Scandinavian crossbordrer shoppers and these offer even better deals.

Of note, drinks in cans and plastic bottles (this concerns soft drinks mostly, but also cans of beer) are considerably cheaper per unit, but have as much as 50 cents / 1 euro 'pfand' attached to it. This is returned if the can is returned for recycling (no receipts needed), but that is a problem for crossborder shoppers.

The way around that is going to the aforementioned megastores, and produce a foreign ID and proof of address, and you will be allowed to buy 'export' labelled cans.

HRT, last time I saw it, was around 8 or 9 euro for 50g, though tubing tobacco is cheaper for some reason and almost matches Belgian prices.

Coffee is an excise good in Germany. This comes from a time where a German King, seeing their French neighbours do the whole French Revolution thing, decided that people who drank booze would party and have fun, whilst people who drank coffee would stay sober and plot against the government. Therefore, he introduced a tax on coffee to make it dearer than drinking beer. That tax remains to this day. If you see Germans loading up their cars with coffee in Belgium, if you order a coffee and notice it's somewhat more expensive than you would have expected, or if a German customs officer asks if you are carrying any coffee, that is why. 

German cops can be a nuisance. A MAJOR nuisance. I have had run ins with them over the silliest things. One episode I recall was a sunday morning in a medium-small sized city, off the tourist beaten path. I had stayed in a budget hotel, and at 6.30 AM woke up, looking to go get breakfast somewhere that both had a decent breakfast and would not charge me 20+ euros for some rubbish. 

I walked towards a taxi rank and got into a taxi. The driver spoke no English at all, and none of my other languages. Only Turkish and German. Seeing as I was unable to communicate, I just stepped out of the taxi after 20 seconds. This was enough to alert a cop car who then decided to stop and search me. They bent me over their car, did a patdown, full search of pockets and radioing of passport (which I fortunately had with me), and idiotic questions about where I had stayed the night before, what I was doing in Germany, and so on. After they'd searched me, their last question was: "Any drugs?". Of course, I hadn't any, but the thought of asking *after* having finished searching me was quite ridiculous. They then were nice enough to tell me where I could go get some breakfast and how to get there (a bus ride). As if inspired by the thought, they then went on to the bus stop and searched two other people who were waiting for the bus. 

I have had other run-ins with them for idiotic reasons, and needless to say, they tend to behave moronically. 

Last edited by Darkpassenger (13-12-2015 11:06 am)


When cross-border shopping, take your Statement of Truth and supporting evidence. ALWAYS record FROM THE MOMENT YOU GET OFF THE BOAT / PLANE and NEVER EVER sign their notebook!

Do not divulge any information which could identify you as Border Force may take your posts here and attempt to quote parts of them out of context in court in order to try to discredit you.
     Thread Starter
 

10-12-2015 2:48 pm  #9


Re: Countries info: SWE ITA FIN LV, NL, DE, LUX, NO, CH, PL, GR

The Netherlands

There's not much point in baccytripping there, as Belgium is so close and noticeably cheaper. If you're by car, buy it in Belgium. Of course, one might wish to fly to The Netherlands for other purposes (the Van Gogh museum notably comes to mind), and then they'll want to bring tobacco home.

Cigarettes have the same 19 (and some brands 23 and 27) packs as Belgium but cost on average 50 to 70 cents more per 19. HRT is also somewhat dearer.

Tobacco can be bought in all sort of places - gas stations, supermarkets, and offlicence / Nachtwinkel type shops. Of note, many won't accept credit cards, and will only accept Dutch debit cards, so expect to have to pay cash. As in Germany, Lidl / Aldi and budget supermarkets sell their own brand of fags.

Beer is cheaper than UK in large shops (but things are a lot dearer in small shops and vending machines - the Dutch seem to be of the idea that convenience must be paid for.

Wine and spirits are actually dearer in NL than even UK. No point getting those there.

Transport: Buses and public transport are diabolically complicated. An "OV-Chipkaart" is something that you load with credit and can use throughout the country on buses, trains, and any public transport. The problem begins when you actually try using it. It is not enough to have enough of a balance for the trip you want to make: you must have enough of a balance to potentially cover the *longest* trip you could make. This is because you have to touch out to be charged the correct fare, but if you aren't, then you will be charged the fare for the longest journey you could have possibly taken. The Dutch being Dutch, will not let you game that system so easily. If you are Dutch or living there, however, you can tie it to your bank account to remove this inconvenience. 

If you are going to Amsterdam and not outwith, my heartfelt advice is to just buy a 1, 2, 3, or 5 day transport pass. This is prepaid and lets you use as much public transport within the city as you want. 

Taxis... are another story. By Dutch law, a taxi is an independent business. The city council provides fares by the meter (say a fare 1, 2, 3, and 4, progressively more expensive), but the taxi driver IS LEGALLY allowed to use WHICHEVER fare they like. Equally, you DO NOT have to take the first taxi in line on a rank. . 

Ergo, do NOT sit into a taxi BEFORE you have negotiated the rate with the driver, or with the call centre. 

This modus operandi was being criticised severely when I spent some time there a few years ago, in the wake of a would-be customer being murdered by a taxi driver whose taxi he refused to take, and there were calls for change. Apparently, Amsterdam is trying to enforce more regulation . However, other cities may not have followed suit, and so it really pays to be on your toes and ask first what's the fare per KM / if they will take you on Tariff 1. More info here: http://www.iamsterdam.com/en/visiting/plan-your-trip/getting-around/taxis and here: http://whatsupwithamsterdam.com/taxis-in-amsterdam/ - That being said, even at Tariff 1 they are *horribly* expensive - more so than even London taxis. 

Amsterdam is otherwise reportedly full of pickpockets, even though I personally have never been robbed. Be on your guard, mind your own business, and don't be a dick, is advice I would give to anyone visiting any foreign country. Or for that matter walking out of their own home. Stick to that and you should be fine. 

Last edited by Darkpassenger (11-12-2015 9:25 am)


When cross-border shopping, take your Statement of Truth and supporting evidence. ALWAYS record FROM THE MOMENT YOU GET OFF THE BOAT / PLANE and NEVER EVER sign their notebook!

Do not divulge any information which could identify you as Border Force may take your posts here and attempt to quote parts of them out of context in court in order to try to discredit you.
     Thread Starter
 

10-12-2015 3:10 pm  #10


Re: Countries info: SWE ITA FIN LV, NL, DE, LUX, NO, CH, PL, GR

Luxembourg

This tiny country borders France, Belgium and Germany, and they make damn sure that they are cheaper than them all, as a fair chunk of their economy is crossborder shoppers. This is due to lower duties and lower VAT.

Essentially, everything is cheaper. Cigarettes, tobacco, booze, petrol, food, and household items will be a bargain of bought there.

Petrol stations seem to have the same exact prices everywhere, motorway or not (leading me to think it may be govt regulated). These are cheaper than all the neighbours and are kept so on purpose. Same with cigarettes, they cost the same everywhere and are significantly cheaper than Belgium: 5.20 for 20 marlboro lights compared to Belgium's 5.80 for 19.

Packs come in 20s, 25s, and 30s. The 30 packs end up costing you about 1.1 cents less per 20 than if you had bought the 20s. That's 44 cents for the MIL limits, and I'm a stickler for detail. 

As for smokes, the largest selection is possibly in the motorway servive stations just inside the border. They have a *massive* shop floor and all the brands you can think of.

Slightly off the beaten path I found this shop http://www.route66-tobacco-lux.com/#section2

Link leads to price list. What they don't advertise is that they do a further 5% discount on govt prices.

Supermarkets are also cheaper (half the vat, remember?) And French, Belgians and Germans alike (plus rven some Dutch!) go there to load their car with groceries and stuff.

I hear that there is a small village with over 20 tobacco shops, much like Adinkerke, but have not seen this so cannot comment.

The downside is the French motorway tolls to get there, or the detour to access it via Belgium. And the extra miles, though depending on what you drive and how empty your tank is, the further fuel savings compared to BE/FR may just about offset the trip.

Last edited by Darkpassenger (11-12-2015 9:28 am)


When cross-border shopping, take your Statement of Truth and supporting evidence. ALWAYS record FROM THE MOMENT YOU GET OFF THE BOAT / PLANE and NEVER EVER sign their notebook!

Do not divulge any information which could identify you as Border Force may take your posts here and attempt to quote parts of them out of context in court in order to try to discredit you.
     Thread Starter
 

10-12-2015 3:16 pm  #11


Re: Countries info: SWE ITA FIN LV, NL, DE, LUX, NO, CH, PL, GR

N2Dgarry wrote:

Thanks for the insight into your travels, Much appreciated"

[...]

I wouldn't mind reading what you have to write about these too countries, I'm always interested in other peoples exploits.

Garry

Thanks! I hope someone finds it useful. And OK, I will do this, but I will do them last. Still fot a few more off the beaten path countries to write about


When cross-border shopping, take your Statement of Truth and supporting evidence. ALWAYS record FROM THE MOMENT YOU GET OFF THE BOAT / PLANE and NEVER EVER sign their notebook!

Do not divulge any information which could identify you as Border Force may take your posts here and attempt to quote parts of them out of context in court in order to try to discredit you.
     Thread Starter
 

10-12-2015 3:25 pm  #12


Re: Countries info: SWE ITA FIN LV, NL, DE, LUX, NO, CH, PL, GR

The only country where you'll WANT to bring cigarettes FROM the UK: NORWAY

a pack of 20 fags in Norway will set you back 13+ quid. (Yes pounds, not euro).

A bottle of Vodka may set you back 25 or 30 for cheaper, 50 or 60 for more premium.

Just posting this in case someone is going there: do not forget your Duty Free fags and booze coming out of the UK, you will regret it if you don't!

Just in case Systembolaget above's prices did not shock you... go find out why the Norwegians actually go shop in Sweden if they are by the border: http://www.vinmonopolet.no/

Then again, if you are going somewhere close to the Swedish, Finnish or Russian borders... you do get duty free allowances from there of course, so do your calculations.

Last edited by Darkpassenger (10-12-2015 10:52 pm)


When cross-border shopping, take your Statement of Truth and supporting evidence. ALWAYS record FROM THE MOMENT YOU GET OFF THE BOAT / PLANE and NEVER EVER sign their notebook!

Do not divulge any information which could identify you as Border Force may take your posts here and attempt to quote parts of them out of context in court in order to try to discredit you.
     Thread Starter
 

10-12-2015 4:40 pm  #13


Re: Countries info: SWE ITA FIN LV, NL, DE, LUX, NO, CH, PL, GR

Switzerland

It's not in the EU, so you can bring duty free allowances. But will you want to? Depends on where you go, which country you are bordering (France, Italy or Germany?), and how far the border is.

Generally speaking, everything is much much dearer in switzerland and they all go crossborder shopping. Swiss customs have strict limits on what can be brought in. This includes meat, butter, cheese, etc. Infos here:

http://www.ezv.admin.ch/zollinfo_privat/04342/04343/index.html?lang=en

Cigs cost 7.50 to 8.50 SFR for 20, but discounts and offers (of the buy X get one free) abound. Supermarkets (DENNER seems best at that) will offer noticeable discounts on whole cartons.

Booze is also dearer with some exceptions such as Port and fortified wines.

You will of course want to bring your duty free allowance back to the UK.

IMPORTANT: are you travelling THROUGH switzerland with excise goods (as would be the best route from Italy?) NO PROBLEM. Just DECLARE them. You will then be charged temporary duty on the excess of the allowance, and be given a receipt. Present it, with the goods, to the border officer when you exit and you get all your money back, cash in hand. You have a time limit for this, but it is reasonable (days rather than hours). Ask the customs officer how long you got - the Swiss are very precise and will be able to tell you.

Swiss customs are very much sticklers for details and adhere to the letter of their law, but they are fairly straightforward to deal with and reasonably helpful. Just declare anything you aren't sure about. 

Last edited by Darkpassenger (05-1-2016 3:47 pm)


When cross-border shopping, take your Statement of Truth and supporting evidence. ALWAYS record FROM THE MOMENT YOU GET OFF THE BOAT / PLANE and NEVER EVER sign their notebook!

Do not divulge any information which could identify you as Border Force may take your posts here and attempt to quote parts of them out of context in court in order to try to discredit you.
     Thread Starter
 

10-12-2015 6:35 pm  #14


Re: Countries info: SWE ITA FIN LV, NL, DE, LUX, NO, CH, PL, GR

eezyrider wrote:

DP
Thanks for taking the time to post this.

Excellent info. Topic now 'pinned' so it does not get lost

Agree with that!

DP, the posts subsequent to my first further up, again, very useful.

JMK


 

Last edited by Johny_MK (10-12-2015 6:36 pm)

 

10-12-2015 7:16 pm  #15


Re: Countries info: SWE ITA FIN LV, NL, DE, LUX, NO, CH, PL, GR

JMK, thanks i keep updsting these as I remember things - I cannot recall a lifetime of travel and its quirks in a few minutes, so some of these will gain some more substance.


When cross-border shopping, take your Statement of Truth and supporting evidence. ALWAYS record FROM THE MOMENT YOU GET OFF THE BOAT / PLANE and NEVER EVER sign their notebook!

Do not divulge any information which could identify you as Border Force may take your posts here and attempt to quote parts of them out of context in court in order to try to discredit you.
     Thread Starter
 

10-12-2015 8:12 pm  #16


Re: Countries info: SWE ITA FIN LV, NL, DE, LUX, NO, CH, PL, GR

Poland 

I have, in the past, made a very short baccy run to Poland whilst I was otherwise in Germany. Current prices for Marlboro are 15 Zloty, about 2.5 GBP at the time of writing. This is noticeably more expensive than the Baltics at 2.06 GBP, which are otherwise close.

If you happen to be in East Germany (Say, Berlin) without a car, your best bet is to get a train to Frankfurt Oder,  and walk over the bridge. Frankfurt Oder is a pleasant city which is half in Germany and half in Poland, a bit like Vaals in the Netherlands. . 

Cigarettes can be had at petrol stations, supermarkets, and many other shops. They have a price on the pack, but I do not know whether these are maximum prices, or whether they MUST sell at that price. 

If you drive into Poland from Germany, there will be moblie homes and shacks that advertise ZIGARETTEN very close to the border. These sell Polish cigarettes legally. They may however offer you Croatian cigarettes at a bargain price (ie, non-EU) - or if they really think you are clueless, they may offer those to you for Polish prices. This is of course illegal, and those cigarettes should not be bought. The Polish "Smoking Kills" health warning reads "Palenie Zabija". 

Also, there are counterfeit polish cigarettes out there (as there are a lot of Ukrainian and Russian fake ones). These are for the UK and German black markets, but are most probably made in China with rubbish. One can just about recognise these by the absence / different markings on the bottom of the pack, different font of the price stamp, slightly different colour of the duty stamp, slightly different font in health warning -- but it really takes a close scrutiny. I've not actually seen them in Poland, but who knows, they could have made their way there. My advice is to buy a pack from a reputable supermarket, buy another pack from a different reputable gas station, and if the two match exactly then compare whatever else you buy to those, and do so thoroughly.Perhaps I am paranoid, but my idea is that the problem is when one is not paranoid enough. 

Update: Thanks Piotrek - Apparently one can check whether a pack of Polish fags is real by inputting the serial numbers on its stamp here: https://www.banderolaakcyzowa.pl/Stamp/Check

Alcohol is of good quality and dirt cheap, though I don't really need to tell you that ;)

Someone else may wish to add more to this, I have not that much experience with Poland. 

Last edited by Darkpassenger (11-12-2015 12:20 pm)


When cross-border shopping, take your Statement of Truth and supporting evidence. ALWAYS record FROM THE MOMENT YOU GET OFF THE BOAT / PLANE and NEVER EVER sign their notebook!

Do not divulge any information which could identify you as Border Force may take your posts here and attempt to quote parts of them out of context in court in order to try to discredit you.
     Thread Starter
 

11-12-2015 10:22 am  #17


Re: Countries info: SWE ITA FIN LV, NL, DE, LUX, NO, CH, PL, GR

Greece

Greece used to have THE cheapest cigarettes in the EU (before Eastern European countries joined), and up to 4 or 5 years ago it could pretty much match their prices. 

Unfortunately it is no longer so, but the cigarettes are still much cheaper than in many other places. Given the recent economic woes, squeezing smokers 'till the pips squeak is something that every government does when they need cash quick. 

Consequently, nowadays a pack of Marlboro costs 4 Euro, and local brands cost a little less. Dunhills, for some reason, are considered THE premium cigarette par excellence by Greeks, and back in the day would set you back for twice the price of Marlboros - no idea what the price is now, however. 

Prices are printed on the duty label and tobacconists MUST sell at that price. 

To buy tobacco, one has to go to a tobacconist. These are mostly kiosks in the middle of the road that sell pretty much nothing but tobacco, plus some soft drinks / chocolates / sweets / newspapers. In more touristy areas they will also have postcards, keyrings, fridge magnets and the likes. I'm sure they sleep somehow, but I've never actually managed to find one closed at whatever ungodly hour in the night -- except for a few on Sunday mornings, when they then go to church. Expect to have to pay cash, and make sure that they even have a machine to print you a receipt - many do not, as no Greek would need a receipt to buy their cigarettes. 

Importantly, all Greek Marlboros are actually made in Greece. They have a slightly different flavour than what one finds in the rest of the continent. Personally I prefer them, but it is a matter of taste. 

Booze: I'm not so impressed. It used to be much cheaper, but now it doesn't look that appealing. 

Have a look at the prices yourself on one of the supermarkets: http://www.ab.gr/click2shop/KRASIA%2C-POTA%2C-ANAPsYKTIKA%2C-NERA/c/008?q=%3Apromotion%3AfacetCategories-category%3ADRIWIN%3AfacetCategories-category%3ADRIWINWHI&sort=promotion&view=thumbViewLayout

and 

http://www.ab.gr/click2shop/KRASIA%2C-POTA%2C-ANAPsYKTIKA%2C-NERA/MPYRES/c/008008


Transport: chaotic. Athens may have improved somewhat after the Olympics (as in, the bus stops now actually tell you which buses even go there and where they are heading to, but they still do that in Greek). Forget about timetabled buses - they come when they like. 

Taxis - they are generally inexpensive, but a hassle. Typically, to get a taxi one must stand by the edge of the road, and *shout* the location where they want to go at the taxi as they see one pass by. If one likes the idea of taking you there, they will stop and take you in. If not, they will ignore you. 

They do all sorts of tricks with the meter, they even have illegally tampered-with metres that at the press of a hidden button when you're turning away just raise the meter price. They will also stop and grab another person on the way (if they are shouting they want to go roughly the same place as you) and load them in, often producing a second meter for that other person (I am not sure whether this is even legal). In any case, expect to have to argue. 

Last edited by Darkpassenger (11-12-2015 10:35 am)


When cross-border shopping, take your Statement of Truth and supporting evidence. ALWAYS record FROM THE MOMENT YOU GET OFF THE BOAT / PLANE and NEVER EVER sign their notebook!

Do not divulge any information which could identify you as Border Force may take your posts here and attempt to quote parts of them out of context in court in order to try to discredit you.
     Thread Starter
 

11-12-2015 10:52 am  #18


Re: Countries info: SWE ITA FIN LV, NL, DE, LUX, NO, CH, PL, GR

Japan

Japan's cigarettes are very cheap. Depending on the Yen's exchange rate and the brand you pick, they'll set you back between 2.30 to 2.80 Pounds per 20. Much of this variation is in the exchange rate - all brands cost pretty much the same, +/- 30p or so. Prices are government mandated, and retailers MUST sell at the specified price.

If flying to Japan, it is not worth to bring Duty Free cigarettes from the UK or most other EU countries: they will be cheaper when duty paid there. Of course, do bring your allowance back from the Japanese Duty Free

The only reason I am including Japan really is because it has a lot of complicated, ritualistic etiquette around smoking. Walking whilst smoking is considered rude: cities will be peppered with ashtray poles, and one is supposed to approach one, light their cigarette, smoke it all whilst there, discard it, and then go off on their way. There are many more etiquette issues with smoking in Japan, such as who gets to light their cigarette first when many people go for a smoke, and where to blow the smoke out. As a tourist, they'll mostly expect you to disregard these, as much as they'd rather you didn't. There's a bit of reading here: http://thisjapaneselife.org/2013/02/27/on-smoking-cigarettes-in-japan/ but that doesn't even cover it all. 

Taxis: don't even *consider* taking a taxi to Tokyo from the airport. It'll cost you more than 100 quid, and sometimes (Thx Tokyo Gridlock as much as 300-400 quid). Take the bullet train. Trust me. . 

Last edited by Darkpassenger (11-12-2015 12:59 pm)


When cross-border shopping, take your Statement of Truth and supporting evidence. ALWAYS record FROM THE MOMENT YOU GET OFF THE BOAT / PLANE and NEVER EVER sign their notebook!

Do not divulge any information which could identify you as Border Force may take your posts here and attempt to quote parts of them out of context in court in order to try to discredit you.
     Thread Starter
 

11-12-2015 12:07 pm  #19


Re: Countries info: SWE ITA FIN LV, NL, DE, LUX, NO, CH, PL, GR

Darkpassenger wrote:

Poland 

I have, in the past, made a very short baccy run to Poland whilst I was otherwise in Germany. Current prices for Marlboro are 15 Zloty, about 2.5 GBP at the time of writing. This is noticeably more expensive than the Baltics at 2.06 GBP, which are otherwise close.

If you happen to be in East Germany (Say, Berlin) without a car, your best bet is to get a train to Frankfurt Oder,  and walk over the bridge. Frankfurt Oder is a pleasant city which is half in Germany and half in Poland, a bit like Vaals in the Netherlands. . 

Cigarettes can be had at petrol stations, supermarkets, and many other shops. They have a price on the pack, but I do not know whether these are maximum prices, or whether they MUST sell at that price. 

If you drive into Poland from Germany, there will be moblie homes and shacks that advertise ZIGARETTEN very close to the border. These sell Polish cigarettes legally. They may however offer you Croatian cigarettes at a bargain price (ie, non-EU) - or if they really think you are clueless, they may offer those to you for Polish prices. This is of course illegal, and those cigarettes should not be bought. The Polish "Smoking Kills" health warning reads "Palenie Zabija". 

Also, there are counterfeit polish cigarettes out there (as there are a lot of Ukrainian and Russian fake ones). These are for the UK and German black markets, but are most probably made in China with rubbish. One can just about recognise these by the absence / different markings on the bottom of the pack, different font of the price stamp, slightly different colour of the duty stamp, slightly different font in health warning -- but it really takes a close scrutiny. I've not actually seen them in Poland, but who knows, they could have made their way there. My advice is to buy a pack from a reputable supermarket, buy another pack from a different reputable gas station, and if the two match exactly then compare whatever else you buy to those, and do so thoroughly.Perhaps I am paranoid, but my idea is that the problem is when one is not paranoid enough. 

Alcohol is of good quality and dirt cheap, though I don't really need to tell you that ;)

Someone else may wish to add more to this, I have not that much experience with Poland. 

You can check Polish duty stamp on this website https://www.banderolaakcyzowa.pl/MobileStamp/Check
 


Please ensure you do not divulge any information which could identify you as Border Force will use your posts here as evidence against you in court.
 

11-12-2015 12:20 pm  #20


Re: Countries info: SWE ITA FIN LV, NL, DE, LUX, NO, CH, PL, GR

Thanks Piotrek! I updated the original post!


When cross-border shopping, take your Statement of Truth and supporting evidence. ALWAYS record FROM THE MOMENT YOU GET OFF THE BOAT / PLANE and NEVER EVER sign their notebook!

Do not divulge any information which could identify you as Border Force may take your posts here and attempt to quote parts of them out of context in court in order to try to discredit you.
     Thread Starter
 

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