Know what you can bring back

You should be aware of the customs rules on the goods you want to bring into the UK – otherwise you could end up losing all of them, not just those goods in excess of the rules.

Duty-paid alcohol and tobacco

If you are travelling to the UK from within the EU you can bring in as much duty-paid alcohol and tobacco as you like, as long as it is for your own use and transported by you. If you are travelling from outside of the EU you can only bring in a limited amount of goods without paying UK duty or tax. This is your duty free allowance.

Find out more about allowances on the website of HM Revenue & Customs, which has pages for people:

  • travelling to the UK from outside the European Union; and
  • travelling to the UK from within the European Union. 

Meat, food and plant products

Meat, food and plant product imports pose serious health risks – both to the public and the environment. There are strict rules about bringing meat, food and plant products into the UK, to reduce the risk of pests and diseases entering the country. Find out more about importing meat and food and importing plant products.

Prohibited and restricted goods

To protect the UK public from offensive weapons and other dangerous goods, some goods are banned in the UK. Some goods can only be imported to the UK with a licence. Find out more about prohibited and restricted goods.  

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 illict 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, our 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

More information

Further information is available on the UK Border Agency website.

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