News story

Travellers: don’t risk it all

Border Forceaks travellers to familiarise themselves with the customs rules for bringing goods into the UK or risk losing all their goods.

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

Travellers - Don’t Risk It All

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 EU duty-paid goods are for a commercial purpose, officers can also seize all your goods.

The goods seized may include any luggage or vehicle used to transport them, so we say to travellers – ‘Don’t Risk It All’.

Know the rules

If you are travelling from outside of the EU, there are limits to the amount of goods you can bring in without paying duty/tax – this is your duty free allowance.

However, if you are travelling from within the EU there are no limits to the amount of goods you can bring in providing they are for your own use or used as a gift, and you don’t sell or use them as payment. Find out more in our guide to bringing goods into the UK.

Prohibited and restricted goods

To protect the UK from offensive weapons and other dangerous goods, some goods are banned, while some can only be imported with a license. Find out more about banned and restricted goods.

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 about food products and plant products

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


There are heavy penalties for smuggling, so:

  • never carry anything into the UK for someone else
  • never bring banned goods into the UK
  • if you are driving, make sure that everyone travelling with you knows which goods are banned or restricted – if you smuggle goods into the UK in a car, out officers may seize the car
  • if you are in doubt, speak to an officer in the red channel or use the red point phone
  • do not smuggle an animal into the UK – it could be carrying rabies. A pet may be tame, but rabies is a killer.
Published 3 April 2013