Banned or restricted goods

There are certain goods that you are not allowed to bring into the UK - in person or by post - under any circumstances, and some goods that are restricted. This is to protect the UK from crime, pests and diseases.

On this page:

When the rules apply

The rules on banned and restricted goods apply whether:

  • you are bringing goods into the UK yourself
  • a friend or a relative is bringing them as a gift
  • they are sent in the post

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Banned goods

The following goods are banned completely regardless of which country you're travelling from or having goods sent from.

  • illicit drugs
  • flick and gravity knives
  • self defence sprays such as pepper and CS gas sprays
  • stun guns
  • indecent and obscene material
  • counterfeit, pirated and patent-infringing goods

Stopping imports of illegal weapons

The following are also banned but in certain cases may be brought into the UK if you have the relevant licence, permit or defence:

  • firearms, explosives and ammunition
  • realistic imitation firearms
  • offensive weapons including swords with a curved blade exceeding 50cms in length
  • live animals
  • endangered animals or plants - see section below 'souvenirs made from endangered species'
  • certain fur skins and articles made from fur skin
  • certain radio transmitters
  • rough diamonds

The following are also banned but in certain cases may be brought into the UK if they are not for commercial use:

  • fur skin of harp and hooded seals pups and products made from such fur
  • cat and dog fur and products made from such fur
  • finished goods of certain fur skins covered for personal and private use

Note that this is not a full list, but it includes the most important examples. If you are unsure about what you can bring in, you should check by contacting the relevant helpline as listed in Travelling to the UK Notice 1 by following the link below.

Read about Travelling to the UK (Opens new window)

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Restricted goods

There are restrictions on what food and plant products you can bring in or send to the UK depending or whether they're from the European Union (EU) or outside the EU.

Check which countries are in the EU in our leaflet 'Bringing food products into the UK - guide for travellers' under 'More useful links'.

Animal food products

If you're travelling or sending goods from an EU country or from Andorra, Canary Islands, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Liechtenstein, Norway, San Marino and Switzerland, you can bring in any meat, dairy or other animal products as long as they are free from diseases and for your own consumption.

If you're travelling or sending goods from outside the EU, you can't bring any meat or dairy products into the UK (unless you're bringing them from Croatia, the Faroe Islands, Greenland or Iceland when you are allowed a combined weight of up to 10kg per person). You may be allowed to bring in a limited quantity of other animal products such as fish and honey, but you should check the rules before you travel.

You can call the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) or visit the DEFRA website.

Contact details for DEFRA on the DEFRA website (Opens new window)

Read about Animal Food Products on the DEFRA website (Opens new window)

If you have any questions about fish, fish products or bivalves, contact the Food Standards Agency.

Find contact details for the Food Standards Agency on the Food Standards Agency website (Opens new window)

Read about personal imports on the Food Standards Agency website (Opens new window)

Foods for infant or medical consumption

If you're travelling to the UK, you may bring a small quantity of powdered infant milk, infant food and special foods required for medical reasons. These products must not require refrigeration before opening and must be in commercially branded packaging, and unopened unless in current use. Check the rules with DEFRA before you travel.

Fruit, vegetable and plant products

If you are travelling from a country within the EU - or from one of the countries for which the EU rules apply (Andorra, The Channel Islands, The Isle of Man, Switzerland and San Marino), you may bring in any fruit, vegetables or plant products if they are grown in any of these countries, are free from pests and diseases and are for your own consumption.

If you are travelling from a country outside the EU or from Gibraltar or from any area of Cyprus not under the effective control of the government - there are weight and quantity restrictions for many products you may bring in for personal use. Certain European and Mediterranean countries have fewer restrictions than others. To check the rules, call the Plant Health Service of the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) or find guidance on Bringing food and plants into the UK on the Directgov website by following the links below.

Find contact details for Plant Health on the FERA website (Opens new window)

Read about Bringing food, animals or plants into the UK on the GOV.UK website (Opens new window)

Souvenirs made from endangered species

Some souvenirs can be made from endangered plants or animals. Endangered species include:

  • plants - such as orchids, cacti, mahogany and ramin trees
  • animals - such as elephants, rhinos, whales, turtles, coral and many reptiles

Endangered species are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). If you buy a souvenir made from one of these products, you may not be allowed to bring it in to the UK and could even face prosecution, or you may need to obtain a permit.

Read about the importing of animals and products of animal origin on the defra website (Opens new window)

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Customs checks on goods sent or brought to the UK

When you arrive in the UK, you'll have to go through customs. If you have goods to declare you must go through the red channel or use the red-point phone.

Goods sent to the UK by post go through the same customs checks as goods carried through customs in person. If you're sending goods from a non EU country, you must declare them on a Customs Declaration that is fixed to the package.

If you declare banned or restricted goods

If you declare banned or restricted goods on the postal declaration or at the red channel or red-point phone the goods may be seized and destroyed.

If you don't declare banned or restricted goods

If you don't declare banned or restricted goods either on the postal declaration or by going through the green channel and customs officers find undeclared items:

  • you could face long delays
  • the goods will also be seized and destroyed
  • you may be prosecuted

Going through customs

Customs procedures for goods posted to the UK

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Penalties for bringing or sending illegal goods into the UK

It is illegal to carry or send goods to the UK that are banned or for which you don't have the necessary licence or permit. There are severe penalties for smuggling, including imprisonment.

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How to report suspicious activity

You can call the Customs Hotline to report suspicious activity in relation to smuggling.

Contact details for Customs, Excise and VAT fraud reporting

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Getting more help and advice

If you need more information about banned or restricted goods, you can contact Customs, International Trade & Excise Helpline by following the link below.

Contact details for Customs, International Trade & Excise Helpline

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More useful links

Bringing food products into the UK - guide for travellers

Bringing fruit, vegetable and plant products into the UK - guide for travellers

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