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Home > Business > Food Safety > Food imports

Food imports

If you import food commercially from another European Union state, this is officially not an import and will not be subject to inspection at the port. This is because there is free movement of goods within the EU and the same food safety standards are applied across all member states. 

If you import food commercially from outside of the European Union (EU), you need to be aware of the legal requirements. Meat products, for example, can only be imported from a country approved to export that type of product to the European Union. In addition they must be accompanied by animal health and public health certification, come from EU-approved premises, and enter the EU through a Border Inspection Post where veterinary checks must be carried out. These controls are in place to protect human and animal health within the EU. 

It is not just foods of animal origin that are controlled. Some plants and plant products are prohibited from entering this country. Others are restricted and must be accompanied by a phytosanitary ('plant health') certificate which is issued by the Plant Health Authority in the exporting country. These measures exist to prevent the introduction into, and spread within, the EU of serious pests and diseases of plants and plant produce (including fruit). 

Personal Imports

personal use from certain approved countries. If you wish to bring food back to the UK from another country for your personal consumption only, you need to be aware of what you are permitted to bring and in what quantity. 

You can bring back a reasonable amount of any food from a country within the EU. 

If you are travelling outside the EU, you can bring back a reasonable amount of foods not of animal origin. Meat, meat products, milk, and milk products generally may not be brought into the UK as personal imports from outside of the EU although there are a few exceptions. Up to 1kg each of fishery products, shellfish, eggs, egg products or honey is allowed for

The general rule is ‘If in doubt, leave it out’.

Defra is the UK government department responsible for policy and regulations on the environment, food and rural affairs.


The Food Standards Agency is an independent Government department set up by an Act of Parliament in 2000 to protect the public's health and consumer interests in relation to food.

Directgov: Bringing food and plants into the UK