Guidance

Personal food, plant and animal product imports

What you need to know if you’re bringing food or other plant or animal products into the UK for personal use.

There are rules about what food products, plants and plant products you can bring into the UK. This is to stop pests and diseases that can affect human, animal and plant health entering the UK.

What products you can bring into the UK depends on where you are travelling from, not where the products were produced or packaged.

The rules apply to any products carried in your personal luggage. They apply if they’re for yourself, bought in a shop (including at an airport), home grown, home made or vacuum packed.

What you can bring from EU countries

If you’re bringing animal and animal products into the UK, then Andorra, the Canary Islands, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Liechtenstein, Norway, San Marino and Switzerland also count as EU countries.

If you’re bringing plants and plant products into the UK, then Andorra, San Marino, Switzerland and the Vatican City also count as EU countries.

You can bring:

  • meat
  • dairy
  • other animal products, for example, fish, eggs and honey

You can bring in any plants or plant products as long as they’re:

  • free from pests and diseases
  • for your own use or consumption

For passengers travelling from the EU, Switzerland and Liechtenstein to Great Britain, controls on plants and plant products will be phased in in 2021.

Passengers will need phytosanitary certificates for:

  • high-priority plants, which includes plants for planting, from 1 January 2021
  • all other regulated plants and plant products from April 2021

Read guidance on importing plants and plant products.

What you can and cannot bring from countries outside the EU or Switzerland

If you’re bringing animal and animal products into the UK, then Gibraltar and Cyprus are treated as non-EU countries.

There are extra restrictions for the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Iceland.

You cannot bring in:

  • meat and meat products
  • milk or dairy products, other than powdered infant milk, infant food, special foods and special pet feed needed for medical reasons

If you’re bringing plants or plant and animal and animal products into GB, all regulated plants and plant products should be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate.
Read guidance on importing plants and plant products.

The products you can bring in, and how much you can bring, are described in the following table.

Product Weight allowed per person travelling Other restrictions
Fruit and vegetables No weight restriction Must have a valid phytosanitary certificate
Live bivalves (for example, mussels and oysters) 2kg -
Eggs or egg products No weight restriction -
Honey 2kg -
Frogs’ legs 2kg Must be the back (hind) part of the frog with the skin and internal organs removed. May be fresh, chilled, frozen or processed.
Insect meat 2kg -
Snail meat 2kg Snails must be shelled, cooked and prepared or preserved, for example canned snail meat or snail shells refilled with snail meat. It must be the meat of edible land snails. Live snails, dead snails still in their shells and water snails are not permitted.
Fish, dead bivalves and fish or fishery products 20kg total weight, or the weight of one fish, whichever weight is the heaviest Fresh fish must be gutted. Fishery products include processed fish (which must be dried, cooked, cured or smoked) lobsters and prawns, and caviar not from certain protected species for example, salmon caviar.
Powdered infant milk, infant food, and special foods needed for medical reasons 2kg Only if the product does not need refrigeration before consumption, it’s in commercially branded packaging, and the packaging is unbroken unless in current use.
Special pet feed needed for medical reasons 2kg Only if the product does not need refrigeration before consumption, it’s in commercially branded packaging, and the packaging is unbroken unless in current use.
Parts of trees used as decoration such as spray, wreath or Christmas tree No weight restriction Must have a valid phytosanitary certificate.
Cut flowers and foliage No weight restriction Must have a valid phytosanitary certificate.
Natural wood (non-manufactured wood) No weight restriction Must have a valid phytosanitary certificate.

What you can bring from Faroe Islands, Greenland and Iceland

The restrictions for the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Iceland are slightly different from other non-EU countries.

Product Weight allowed per person travelling Other restrictions
Meat and dairy products (other than powdered infant milk, infant food, special foods and special pet feed required for medical reasons) 10kg per person -
Powdered infant milk, infant food, special foods and special pet feed required for medical reasons 10kg per person Only if the product does not need refrigeration before consumption, it’s in commercially branded packaging, and the packaging is unbroken unless in current use.
Special pet feed required for medical reasons 10kg per person Only if the product does not need refrigeration before consumption, it’s in commercially branded packaging, and the packaging is unbroken unless in current use.

Greenland: additional restrictions

Product Weight allowed per person travelling Other restrictions
Live bivalves for example, mussels and oysters 10kg -
Eggs or egg products 10kg -
Frogs’ legs 10kg Must be the back (hind) part of the frog with the skin and internal organs removed. May be fresh, chilled, frozen or processed.
Honey 10kg -
Reptile and insect meat 10kg -
Snail meat 10kg Snails must be shelled, cooked and prepared or preserved, for example canned snail meat or snail shells refilled with snail meat. It must be the meat of edible land snails. Live snails, dead snails still in their shells and water snails are not permitted.

Sturgeon caviar

If you want to bring more than 125g of sturgeon caviar in your personal luggage from EU or non-EU countries, you must have a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) permit. This also applies if you send it by post.

Call the Animal and Plant Health CITES team on 0117 372 3700.

The total weight of the caviar counts as part of the 20kg per person allowance for fish and fish products.

Animal skins

Animal hides and skins (with or without hairs or fur) must be tanned or they are illegal products. Tanning means the hardening of hides and skins using tanning agents. There is no limit on the amount you can bring.

Bushmeat

International trade in bushmeat (the meat of wild animals used for food) is either banned completely or controlled by permits.

You cannot import any meat from non-EU countries.

If you import it illegally, you can be imprisoned for up to 7 years and given an unlimited fine.

Penalties for importing banned animal products

If you fail to declare banned products, you could face severe delays and you could be prosecuted.

The EU operates a system of strict controls on legal imports of animal products, including meat. All products from non-EU countries can only be imported through border control posts (BCPs) at ports and airports, where they undergo veterinary checks by an official veterinary surgeon to make sure import conditions are met.

Border Force is responsible for detecting smuggled goods from non-EU countries at Great Britain points of entry (except in BCPs). This includes postal imports at postal depots, ports or airports. They are also responsible for enforcing controls under CITES.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs for Northern Ireland (DAERA) has responsibility in Northern Ireland at BCPs and other points of entry.

Seizures

If Border Force think you have brought something into the country illegally, they can take it off you. This is called ‘seizure’.

You must declare any products you are bringing in from outside the EU.

If you declare illegal products to Border Force officers, they will take them away and destroy them. No further action will be taken.

If you have brought too much in, it will be seized. The weight allowance is based on the gross weight including the packaging, for example, fish packed with ice. If the gross weight of the fish and the ice together is greater than the allowance, all of it will be seized.

Border Force will also seize any items that have been cross-contaminated, for example with blood from meat. It takes a pragmatic approach but if clothing or the bag the item is in appear to be contaminated with, they will be seized and destroyed.

If you are concerned the products in the parcel may have been illegally sent to this country or if the products do not appear to be healthy you should notify your local Environmental Health Office. They will send an officer to seize and destroy the parcel.

If you’re not sure about any of the products you are bringing in, speak to a Border Force officer in the red channel or on the red point phone.

Appeals

You can appeal to Border Force if you think your products were wrongly seized. If you’re found to be correct, you’re likely to get compensation. The original products will have been destroyed as all perishable items are classed for immediate disposal.

Exempted food products

You can bring the following products into the UK as a personal import, as they are exempt:

  • bread (but not sandwiches filled with meat or dairy products)
  • cakes without fresh cream, including Christmas cake, Simnel cake or cakes containing nuts
  • biscuits
  • chocolate and confectionery - except sweets made with a lot of unprocessed dairy ingredients such as burfi, gulab jamun, halwah or halva, ras malai, rasgullah, ladoos, and chum chum
  • unfilled gelatine capsules
  • food supplements packaged for the final consumer containing small amounts of an animal product (such as fish oil capsules) and those including glucosamine, chondroitin or chitosan
  • meat extracts in liquid or spreadable form (but not pate or meat concentrates, for example, stock cubes, gravy granules or flavouring sachets or any that contain pieces of meat)
  • olives stuffed with fish
  • pasta and noodles, if processed or cooked (but not if mixed or filled with meat or meat products)
  • soup, stocks and flavourings packaged for the final consumer containing meat extracts, meat concentrates, animal fats or fish oils, powders or extracts (but not if they contain pieces of meat or fish)
  • any other food product not containing any fresh or processed meat or dairy and with less than 50% of processed egg or fishery products
  • processed and packaged plant products (such as fruit and vegetables including packaged salads and frozen plant material)
Published 9 April 2013
Last updated 21 December 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updated with guidance on personal imports from 1 January 2021.

  2. Fruit and vegetables changed from 2kg to No weight restriction

  3. Changed weight and other restrictions in the table for: Plants and plant products, Natural wood, Cut flowers and foliage, Parts of trees used as decoration Removed these categories from products you can bring in: Seeds for planting (but not potato seeds), and Bulbs, corms, tubers and rhizomes for planting (excluding potatoes)

  4. Rewriting and restructuring information to be clearer and up to date.

  5. Updated the phone number for UK CITES Management Authority.

  6. Added Croatia to list of eligible European countries.

  7. Updated link to Bringing food products into the UK publication

  8. Removed link to unrelated guide

  9. First published.