What are the pitfalls in your ski resort?

Masami Takasago rounds up the latest advice from the Foreign Office on winter destinations

From anti-smuggling rules in the Pyrenees to unco-operative petrol stations in Italy, a wide range of logistical hazards awaits the unwary skier this winter.

Andorra: don't take more than 15 packets of cigarettes out of the country

"Andorra is not a member of the European Union and limits on the import of duty free goods apply. France and Spain apply strict rules on the amount of tobacco exported from Andorra for personal use (300 cigarettes/400g pipe tobacco/75 cigars). Amounts in excess of this can be impounded."

Austria: don't rent a car in Switzerland and drive it across the border

"EU nationals are not allowed to drive non-EU rental cars into EU territory. Non-EU countries that border Austria are Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Liechtenstein, Slovenia and Switzerland."

France: don't rule out Swiss hospital costs

"Alpine travellers should take out complementary insurance to cover extra medical costs, repatriation or, in Savoie and Haute-Savoie départements, possible transfer to Switzerland for hospital treatment."

Italy: plastic not fantastic for petrol

"As a consequence of a dispute with banks over commission charges, Italian fuel stations are currently refusing to accept most credit and ATM cards for payment." And if you plan to combine skiing with culture, be warned that: "It is now an offence to sit on steps/ courtyards or to eat and drink in the immediate vicinity of the main churches and public buildings in Florence."

Spain: in the western Pyrenees, beware of cash-dispenser terrorism

"There are regular incidents of street violence in the Basque country, involving organisations sympathetic to ETA and directed against the security forces, political parties and banks. These incidents normally happen at night, and often take the form of Molotov cocktail or small bomb attacks against the homes of local politicians, security force buildings and cash dispensers." Even if you safely get cash out, don't spend it all on cigarettes. Under Spanish law, the number of cigarettes for personal use, which may be exported from Spain without additional paperwork is just 800: "Anything above this amount is regarded as a trade transaction, which must be accompanied by the required documentation."

Switzerland: check that policy

"Ensure you are properly insured before visiting Switzerland, especially in the mountain resorts. Mountain rescue is extremely expensive and often not included in standard travel insurance. If mountaineering or skiing, you should ensure that the potential cost is fully covered. For high-altitude mountaineering and ski-touring, we strongly recommend you hire a professional guide."

www.fco.gov.uk/travel

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