FAQ: Meat, food and plants
You shouldn't have any problems bringing your wedding cake back to the UK from the Caribbean, as long as it doesn't contain fresh cream. Although a cake can contain ingredients of animal origin, such as eggs, butter, milk and suet (which are usually restricted from countries outside the EU), generally you would be allowed to bring your cake into the country.
You can bring back some of the fish you catch, as long as it's for your own use and not to sell to other people. You cannot bring back more than a total of 1kg of fish or fish products from Canada.
Different rules may apply to fish from other countries; and remember that rules about bringing foods into the UK can change quite quickly. So when you go on a fishing holiday it's always a good idea to check the Defra website before you go away to identify whether there are any restrictions on bringing back fish from the country you are travelling to.
You aren't allowed to bring any meat or meat products from South Africa into the UK for your personal use. This includes fresh, smoked and dried meats. The same rules apply to most non-EU countries.
When I go on holiday abroad can I bring back for my personal use 1 kilogram of fresh lobster, 1 kilogram of fresh salmon and 1 kilogram of tinned tuna?
You can only do this if you are travelling from another EU Member State, from Andorra, Norway, San Marino, the Canary Islands and the Channel Islands or from Iceland. If you are travelling from any other country, a combined total of 1 kilogram of these products may be permitted.
Yes. Unlike the allowances for alcoholic drinks brought back to the UK, children are entitled to the same concessions as adults for food brought back for personal use.
I would like to bring back a whole fish from Africa for my own use but they nearly always weigh just over 1 kilogram? Will it be allowed?
No. Fish, honey, snail meat, frogs legs and eggs including egg products are only allowed up to 1 kilogram of each type of product from certain non-EU countries. Any of these foods brought back that weigh over 1 kilogram are illegal and all of that product (not just the part in excess of 1 kilogram) will be seized and destroyed.
I want to send a food parcel from Australia to my son in the UK. The parcel would include snack foods such as Vegemite. Will this be allowed?
Provided the food you want to send to your son contains no meat, meat products, fish over 1kg or dairy products, a gift of a food parcel containing a few packets of snack foods should be allowed as a personal import. However it is best to check the DEFRA website, which contains a table of what is permitted from where.
HMRC will take a pragmatic approach to seizing other items mixed or packed with illegal meat and animal or plant products. However in order to protect the nation’s health, if clothing or the bag appear to be contaminated for example if there is blood on these items, then they will be seized and destroyed; and if for instance meat has been packed with fish of less than 1 kg, cross-contamination will mean that the fish is also seized.
Any items, no matter where they are produced or packaged, brought into the UK from the third country are deemed to have been consigned from that third country and thus the POAO regulations apply and will be seized if they exceed the permitted level.
What if I have come from a third country with no concession but I have been to other countries with concessions, what is the position?
The concession only applies to the last country that the person travelled from.
If you have any food or plants that are not permitted, or more than the permitted level, or you are not sure of the rules you must go to the HMRC Red Channel or Red Point and speak to a HMRC officer (or use the phone provided). If you do not, you may face penalties, which include up to seven years imprisonment, a fine or both.
If are concerned that the food in the parcel may have been illegally brought into the country or if the food does not appear to be healthy you should notify your local Environmental Health Office. They should send an officer to seize and destroy the parcel.
No. If you have brought in more than is permitted of a product HMRC will seize the whole quantity.
HMRC have an appeal procedure detailed in Notice 12A and Notice 100. If HMRC are found to have wrongly seized the food products then compensation for loss is likely to be paid as the original items will have been destroyed as all perishable items are classed for immediate disposal.
You can bring back a reasonable amount of any food on sale in any EU country. If it is a large amount, you may need to satisfy HMRC that the food is for your personal use.
This also applies to personal imports of fish and shellfish from Iceland.
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