Imports for personal use

How to import food products for personal use into the UK from EU and non-EU countries.
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Bringing food back from an EU country

You can bring back a reasonable amount of any food on sale in any EU country. If what you are bringing back is for commercial purposes, then it can be checked at the border by the port health authorities against relevant regulations.  

Reasonable amount 

‘Reasonable amount’ is understood to mean that 1-2kg weight shouldn’t present a problem for personal imports. Decisions on whether it is considered personal or commercial is made under advice from HM Revenue & Customs. 

Cyprus

Cyprus is part of the EU, but goods brought back from any area of Cyprus not under effective control of the Republic of Cyprus are treated as non-EU imports. 

Bringing food back from a non-EU country

Plants and non-animal origin products

You can bring back food that does not contain anything of animal origin from a country outside the EU in reasonable quantities. 

Due to plant health restrictions, personal imports of fruit and raw vegetables from outside the EU can be limited to 2kg. Personal imports of potatoes from non-EU countries are not permitted.

If the food is considered to be for commercial purposes, then it can be checked by the port health authorities at the point of import. This can be the case for larger amounts of imported goods.  

Restricted products

Some food products of non-animal origin are restricted for import to the EU for commercial purposes. These products can be brought in for personal use. You need to be aware of any health risks that these products can cause due to possible contamination. Some products, for example kava kava, are not permitted to be imported for either personal or commercial use. 

Meat, meat products and dairy products 

Personal imports of meat, meat products and dairy products are not allowed from non-EU countries and will be seized by Customs Officers. 

However, you can bring back a combined total of up to 10kg of these products in personal luggage or have them sent by post from the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Iceland. 

Baby food, milk and medically required food

You can import up to 2kg of powdered infant milk, infant food and special foods for medical conditions containing products of animal origin for personal use. 

The products must not require refrigeration before opening and must be commercial brands of products in unbroken packaging. 

For those travelling from the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Iceland, this limit is 10kg. 

Formal confirmation, for instance a letter from your doctor, of the required medical use may be required.

Fish, shellfish and other products of animal origin   

You can bring up to 2kg of: 

  • live bivalves, for example, mussels, oysters and scallops
  • eggs and egg products
  • frogs’ legs - only if skin and internal organs are removed
  • honey - only for countries with an approved residue monitoring plan according to Commission Decision 2011/163/EU
  • reptile and insect meat
  • shelled, cooked, prepared or preserved edible land snail meat 

Permitted shellfish and fish products up to 20kg in total weight per person, or the weight of one fish, whichever weight is the highest include:

  • fresh fish - must be gutted
  • fishery products, for example, processed fish - dried, cooked, cured or smoked
  • lobsters
  • crab
  • shrimps and prawns  
  • dead bivalves, for example, mussels, oysters, scallops

Personal imports must be from approved countries outside the EU.

Further details on the countries approved for these types of products can be found in European Commission Decision 2006/766/EC (as amended).

Caviar

You can bring up to 125g per person of caviar - of sturgeon species only. The limit is imposed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)

Imports of fish caught by anglers

If you want to bring your catches from a fishing trip in a non-EU country to the UK, these can exceed the 20kg allowance limit. You will only be allowed to do this if the catch is brought back as a commercial consignment. 

Some fishing trip organisers or agents may be able to make arrangements for fish caught on fishing trips to be treated as commercial consignments. If these arrangements are not in place, it is your responsibility to ensure your catch is handled and prepared by an approved establishment for export to the UK.

If you're an angler travelling to Canada, you can find information on importing personal catches into the EU on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website.  

Bringing back cakes 

You can bring back cakes containing milk and egg products as ingredients. Cakes that contain fresh dairy content such as fresh cream filling or butter icing are not permitted.  

Food parcel from a non-EU country to family in UK 

You can send a reasonable amount of food for personal use if the food parcel you send is:

  • to a private, named individual 
  • contains no meat and meat products
  • contains no dairy products 
  • contains no restricted products 

Child import allowance

Children are entitled to the same allowances as adults for food brought back for personal use.

Bringing alcohol

There are strict allowances for the amount of alcohol you can bring with you for your own personal use from non-EU countries.

Border Force information on bringing food products into the UK

If foodstuffs or gifts are seized

The Food Standards Agency cannot overturn any decisions made by the Customs Officer.

If the product is seized, contact the National Post Seizure Unit on 01752 765817 or at:

National Post Seizure Unit 
UK Border Force 
3rd floor 
West Point 
Ebrington Street 
Plymouth 
PL4 9LT

HM Revenue & Customs information on seizures of products 

Additional restrictions

There may be additional restrictions on importing food if circumstances present a risk to animal or human health. 

These restrictions can change rapidly, so you should check the up-to-date information on what you can bring back into the UK for personal use before you travel. 

If in doubt, do not to bring those food products into the UK.