What you can (and cannot) bring to France from the UK


Several readers have asked us to clarify the post-Brexit rules on what can be brought to France through the border, especially with regard to food and drinks.
It comes after UK media reports in recent days about UK truck drivers confiscating ham sandwiches by Dutch border guards.

One reader wondered how far that went, as one official was cited as not only mentioning meat and dairy products, but also other products such as fruits and vegetables.

“It all sounds confusing and unnecessary,” the reader said.

The issue stems from the EU rules on importing food into the EU from third countries (i.e. outside the EU / EEA / Switzerland) which apply to imports from other countries for some time. They now apply to travelers from the UK due to Brexit.

This is to bring meat and dairy products, in order to avoid introducing animal diseases from abroad. They also relate to the intake of plants and plant products.

When it comes to meat and dairy products in particular, the EU tightened these rules following the 2001 foot-and-mouth disease outbreak after discovering that germs causing such diseases, or swine fever, could be carried in meat and milk.

The rules on plants were tightened up at the end of 2019, in particular to prevent plant pests from entering the EU from outside.

The rules do not prohibit commercial imports to the EU of these products, but in this case, animal products must be accompanied by veterinary certificates and, as of December 2019, plant products must be accompanied by phytosanitary certificates.

They must verify that plant products are free from pests and diseases and comply with EU phytosanitary requirements.

This means in practice that it is not possible to have such products in hand or in the hold baggage when arriving in France from the United Kingdom, nor should they be posted in parcels.

In spring 2019, a spokesperson for the European Commission confirmed The connection that the rules on meat and dairy were likely to apply in the UK after Brexit. At the time, it was in the context of a possible no-deal scenario, but the future relationship agreed between the UK and the EU is not close enough to allow an exemption from these rules.

She said at the time: “This is because the EU has the highest food safety standards in the world and the free movement of animals and food is only possible through a strict system of controls. shared.

“When the UK leaves the EU, it will have to adjust to a new reality where the UK is no longer part of the invisible, but crucial systems that make life in the EU easier.”

The detailed rules include the following:

Meat and dairy products

  • Meat, meat products (which do not “look” like meat but are made from it), milk and dairy products cannot be imported. This includes, for example. yogurt, cheese or Bovril.
  • There is an exception for less than 2 kg of powdered baby milk and baby food or special food needed for medical reasons (if it is food that does not need to be refrigerated and are brand name items and in undamaged packaging, unless needed for current use). This category also includes special pet foods required for veterinary purposes.
  • Fish and seafood: up to 20 kg of fish can be imported
  • For certain other animal products, including live oysters and mussels and honey, up to 2 kg are allowed

Plant products

  • You cannot bring real plants, or cut plants and flowers, or fruits and vegetables, or seeds. Exceptions include pineapple, banana, coconut, durians, and dates, as they are considered risk-free.
  • You cannot bring firewood and logs

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