News story

Going abroad this summer? Don’t risk it all

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Make sure you check what you can and cannot bring back to the UK.

Going through customs
Check what you can bring back to the UK

Holidaymakers preparing for a summer get-away abroad are being asked to check what they can and cannot bring back to the UK.

Failure to check means people run the risk of losing all their goods. Travellers are often unaware that if they bring in more duty-free from outside the EU and fail to declare it, Border Force can seize all of their goods and not just those in excess of their allowance.

Equally, if Border Force is satisfied that your EU duty-paid goods are for a commercial purpose, officers can seize them.

The goods seized may include any luggage or vehicle used to transport them, so the message for summer travellers is ‘Don’t risk it all’.

The Rules

Travelling within the EU

You can bring an unlimited amount of most goods into the UK, for example, you can bring in any alcohol, tobacco, meat and dairy products – as long as they are for your own use and transported by you. ‘Own use’ means for your own consumption or gifts.

Travelling from outside the EU

When travelling from outside the EU (including the Canary Islands, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar) you can bring in goods up to certain limits without paying duty and/or tax in the UK. These goods must be for your own use or as gifts and transported by you.

Find out more about limits and guideline quantities considered to be above ‘own use’ when travelling to, or returning to, the UK.

Food and plant products

Food and plant product imports pose serious health risks – both to the public and to the environment. There are strict rules about bringing them to the UK to reduce the risk of pests and diseases entering the country. Find out more about the rules on bringing food products to the UK and bringing fruit, vegetables and plant products to the UK.

Endangered animals and plants

You are not allowed to bring internationally protected endangered animals and plants, or products made from them, into the UK unless you have a CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) permit. The illicit trade in animal products is a serious contributory factor in the threat of extinction faced by many endangered species. Find out more about CITES.

If you’re unsure of the goods you are carrying, you must speak to a Border Force officer and the customs Red Channel or on the Red Point phone.

Read about your limits

Published 28 June 2013