There seems to be quite a bit of confusion amongst visitors as to whether Fuerteventura is a part of the EU or not.
Is Fuerteventura in the EU? Yes, Fuerteventura, and the Canary Islands, are part of the Outermost Regions of the EU but it is not part of the EU Customs Union so VAT does not apply here.
Although Fuerteventura, and all of the Canary Islands of course, are geographically part of Africa (being only 100km off the coast of Morocco), the islands are politically part of the Outermost Regions of the Economic Union (EU), because of the links to mainland Spain. See the official document from the EU – Outermost Regions (ORs)
However, even though Fuerteventura is part of the EU, due to the above, it is not actually part of the EU Customs Union. This means that things like EU customs and VAT do not apply here.
The Canary Islands are administered overall by the Central Government of Spain. But the Canary Islands also has its own parliament and has control of many of its laws, taxation etc.
What does this mean to visitors to Fuerteventura?
Taking cigarettes and alcohol back to the UK
The fact that Fuerteventura is outside the EU customs zone means that there are restrictions on the amount of “duty free” you can take back to the UK with you when you leave.
This seems to catch many out who wrongly believe that they can take any amount of cigarettes and alcohol back with them for personal use as they are returning to the UK from Spain. As Spain is in the EU customs union then that is true but as Fuerteventura is not then duty free allowances apply. See the duty free restrictions below.
How will Brexit affect the duty free allowances?
Well actually not much when travelling from Fuerteventura to the UK. Since Fuerteventura is not part of the EU for customs purposes the current restrictions will remain as they are. Of course these same restrictions will also apply to travellers returning to the UK from any EU country, including Spain, once the UK leaves fully.
Duty free allowances from Fuerteventura to UK
The UK government website gives the following advice about the amounts of duty free goods you can take with you into the UK when returning from a non-EU country:
Remember, you are not permitted to combine allowances with other people to bring in more than your individual allowance.
How much you can bring depends on the type of alcoholic drink. Basically the higher the percentage of alcohol (ABV – Alcohol By Volume), the less you can have. You can bring in:
- beer – 16 litres
- wine (not sparkling) – 4 litres
You can also bring in either:
- spirits and other liquors over 22% alcohol (ABV) – 1 litre
- fortified wine (for example port or sherry), sparkling wine and alcoholic drinks up to 22% alcohol (ABV) – 2 litres
You can split this last allowance, for example you could bring 1 litre of fortified wine and half a litre of spirits (both half of your allowance).
You can bring in one from the following list of tobacco products:
- 200 cigarettes
- 100 cigarillos
- 50 cigars
- 250g tobacco
You can split this allowance – so, for example, you could bring in 100 cigarettes and 25 cigars (both half of your allowance).
Oddly, a minor under 17 has no duty free allowance but they can bring in alcohol or tobacco for their own use but will have to pay duty on it!
Allowance for other goods
You can bring in other goods into the UK which can be worth up to £390 (or up to £270 if you arrive by private plane or boat – which is also rather bizarre).
If a single item is worth more than your allowance above you have to pay any duty or tax on its full value, not just the value above the allowance. Which is rather unfair in my opinion – but since when has tax ever been fair!
What you should do if you have over these allowances
You must inform a Customs officer (known as ‘declaring’) on your arrival in the UK if you have goods:
- over your duty-free allowance
- that are banned or restricted
- that you plan to sell
You should enter the Customs area using the red channel if you have something to declare. If there is no red channel you should use the red-point phone to declare goods to customs.
Customs officers have the power to check you and your baggage for anything that must be declared.
After you have made your declaration you may be asked to:
- pay tax or duty on the goods
- give up banned goods
- produce documents for restricted goods, for example licences and permits
Is Fuerteventura part of the Eurozone?
Yes, the currency in Fuerteventura is the Euro.
What is the Fuerteventura time zone?
Fuerteventura is in the Western European time zone which means the time is always the same is in the UK, not the same as mainland Spain as many people assume.
Is Fuerteventura tax free?
In theory Fuerteventura is a tax free island but that means that you are restricted on the amount of cigarettes, alcohol etc you can take back to the UK.
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