Summary of personal food import restrictions

This section summarises the different regulations that apply to personal food imports from EU and non-EU countries.

From EU countries

You can bring any fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy or other animal products (eg fish, eggs and honey) into NI if you’re travelling from a country within the EU.

However if a Veterinary or Plant Health Risk Based Assessment suggests that any of these items could be diseased or harbour a pest they will not be permitted entry to NI.

Food from Europe: details of restrictions

You can bring in or receive by post personal imports of any meat, dairy or other animal products from any EU country, subject to the additional restrictions listed below.

You may only bring in or send by post larger quantities of animal products if they meet the requirements for commercial consignments, which include:

  • certification requirements, as laid down in the appropriate official European Community veterinary certificate
  • the presentation of the goods, with the correct documentation, to an authorised EU border inspection post for veterinary control, on arrival in NI

Eligible European countries

The EU countries (excluding the UK) are:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal (including Azores and Madeira)
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden

The Community customs territory includes these countries which also count as EU countries in this context:

  • Andorra
  • Canary Islands
  • Channel Islands
  • Isle of Man
  • Liechtenstein
  • Norway
  • San Marino
  • Switzerland

Ineligible European countries

Although Gibraltar is part of the EU, it is outside the Community customs territory so is therefore treated as a non-EU country.

Meat/Meat products and Milk/Dairy products from cattle, deer, goats, pigs and sheep, originating from the Burgas region of Bulgaria, are not currently permitted.

Though the whole of Cyprus is part of the EU, goods from any area of Cyprus not under the effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus are treated as non-EU imports. Croatia, Faeroe Islands, Greenland and Iceland are dealt with in the section below.

Additional restrictions

For certain protected species, additional restrictions may apply for products brought or sent from Andorra, Canary Islands, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Liechtenstein, Norway, San Marino and Switzerland.

  • caviar of sturgeon species: 125 grams per person

If you wish to send by post, regardless of the amount, or bring in more than 125 grams in your personal luggage you must have the correct CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) permits, or all of the product will be seized. Please contact the UK CITES Management Authority on 0117 372 8774, including if you need confirmation as to whether the caviar in question is listed as an endangered species.

From non-EU countries

The following items are banned:

  • all meat and meat products
  • all milk and dairy products
  • potatoes

The following items are restricted

  • fruit and vegetables - no more than 2kg total weight combined per person travelling bivalves (live), egg products, eggs and honey
  • fish, bivalves (dead) and fish/fishery products - no more than 20kg total weight (fish must be gutted if fresh, or processed,ie cooked, cured, dried or smoked) 2kg total weight combined per person - certain fruits and vegetables

The rules apply to any products carried in your personal luggage or sent by post (including those ordered online) and even if they’re for yourself, bought in a shop (including at an airport), home-grown/made or vacuum packed.

Food from outside the EU: details of restrictions

Note that though the whole of Cyprus is part of the EU, goods from any area of Cyprus not under the effective control of the government of the Republic of Cyprus are treated as non-EU imports. For restrictions from Croatia, Faeroe Islands, Greenland and Iceland, see sections below.

Products(s) Restrictions
Meat and dairy products (other than powdered infant milk, infant food, special foodds and special pet feed required for mediacl reasons) Not permitted
Powdered infant milk, infant food, special foods and special pet feed required for medical reasons* 2kg total weight per person travelling
Special pet feed required for medical reasons* 2kg total weight per person travelling

*provided that in both cases:

  • the product does not require refrigeration before consumption
  • the product is in commercially branded packaging
  • the packaging is unbroken unless in current use
Product(s) Restrictions
Fish/fishery products/bivalves (dead) 20kg total weight per person travelling or the weight of one fish, whichever weight is the highest

Fresh fish must be gutted.

Fishery products include:

  • processed fish (dried, cooked, cured or smoked)
  • lobsters and prawns
  • caviar not from certain protected species eg salmon caviar

Bivalves (dead) include:

  • mussels
  • oysters
Product(s) Restrictions
Other animal products 10kg total weight per person travelling

Other animal products include:

  • bivalves (live) eg mussels and oysters
  • eggs/egg products
  • frogs’ legs (hind part of the frog with the skin/internal organs removed)
  • honey
  • reptile and insect meat
  • snail meat (edible land snails, shelled)

Frogs’ legs must be the back (ie the hind) part of the frog with the skin/internal organs removed. If the skin/internal organs are still attached, the frogs’ legs are not permitted. May be fresh, chilled, frozen or processed.

Snails must be shelled, cooked and prepared/preserved meat of edible land snails, including canned snailmeat, and snail shells re-filled with snail meat.Live snails, dead snails still in their shells and water snails are not permitted.

In accordance with Commission Decision 2005/692/EC (as amended) which imposes certain protection measures to prevent the spread of Avian Influenza (more commonly known as ‘bird flu’) into the EU, personal imports of raw eggs for human consumption from China (not including Hong Kong or Macao), Malaysia or South Korea (the Republic of Korea) are banned. The ban does not apply to eggs that have been cooked or processed in some way which are still permitted as part of the 2kg concession.

For certain protected species, additional restrictions may apply eg:

  • caviar of sturgeon species: 125 grams per person

If you wish to send by post, regardless of the amount, or bring in more than 125 grams in your personal luggage you must have the correct CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) permits, or all of the product will be seized. Please contact the UK CITES Management Authority on 0117 372 8774, including if you need confirmation as to whether the caviar in question is listed as an endangered species.

The total weight of the caviar is included as part of the 20kg total weight per person allowance covering products from the ‘Fish/fishery products/bivalves (dead)’ category.

From Croatia, Faroe Islands, Greenland and Iceland

You may only bring in or send by post personal imports of the following products:

Product(s) 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
Special pet feed required for medical reasons* 10kg per person

*provided that in both cases:

  • the product does not require refrigeration before consumption
  • the product is in commercially branded packaging
  • the packaging is unbroken unless in current use

For certain protected species, additional restrictions may apply eg:

  • caviar of sturgeon species: 125 grams per person

If you wish to send by post, regardless of the amount, or bring in more than 125 grams in your personal luggage you must have the correct CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) permits, or all of the product will be seized. Please contact the UK CITES Management Authority on 0117 372 8774, including if you need confirmation as to whether the caviar in question is listed as an endangered species.

Note that from Croatia and Greenland, the total weight of the caviar (from certain protected species) is included as part of the 20kg total weight per person allowance within fish/fishery products (including caviar not from certain protected species eg salmon caviar) - see below.

Croatia and Greenland: additional restrictions

Product(s) Restrictions
Fish / fishery products - bivalves (dead) 20kg total weight per person travelling or the weight of one fish, whichever weight is the highest

Fresh fish must be gutted.

Fishery products include:

  • processed fish (dried, cooked, cured or smoked)
  • lobsters and prawns
  • caviar not from certain protected species eg salmon caviar

Bivalves (dead) include:

  • mussels
  • oysters
Product(s) Restrictions
Other animal products 10kg total weight per person travelling

Other animal products include:

  • bivalves (live) eg mussels and oysters
  • eggs/egg products
  • frogs’ legs (hind part of the frog with the skin/internal organs removed)
  • honey
  • reptile and insect meat
  • snail meat (edible land snails, shelled)

Frogs’ legs must be the back (ie the hind) part of the frog with the skin/internal organs removed. If the skin/internal organs are still attached, the frogs’ legs are not permitted. May be fresh, chilled, frozen or processed.

Snails must be shelled, cooked and prepared/preserved meat of edible land snails, including canned snailmeat, and snail shells re-filled with snail meat.Live snails, dead snails still in their shells and water snails are not permitted.

Restrictions on animal skins and bushmeat

Animal hides and skins (either with or without hairs/fur) must be tanned or they are illegal products. Tanning means the hardening of hides and skins using vegetable tanning agents, chromium salts or other substances such as aluminium salts, ferric salts, silicic salts, aldehydes and quinones or other synthetic hardening agents. There is no specific limit on the amount you can bring.

International trade in bushmeat derived from animals is either banned completely or controlled by means of a permitting system. Personal imports of all meat from non-EU countries are prohibited. Penalties for illegal importation are high with up to 7 years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. There is no precise definition of bushmeat that is universally accepted, although it is generally understood to be the meat of any wild animal hunted for food. It is not necessarily from endangered species.

Personal import rules database

For a detailed check of permitted foodstuffs listed by country and type, including for items sent by post, you can use the personal import rules database.

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