Post-Brexit Customs Restrictions & Allowances Between France and the UK


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Post-Brexit Customs Restrictions & Allowances Between France and the UK

Since Brexit, the rules for travelling between France and the UK have changed, and it’s important to be aware of what you can and can’t take with you when you travel across the Channel. Our guide to Post-Brexit Travel Between France and UK has all the essential information on passports, documents, and border controls – this guide focuses on the specific customs restrictions and allowances that have been in place from 2021 onwards.

IMPORTANT: Travelling Between France and the UK during Covid

Please note that this article concerns general post-Brexit travel information – you can find out the latest details on travel between France and the UK during Covid here. In addition, we recommend that you always double-check the latest travel regulations for the UK (which you can find here) and France (which you can find here) before travelling.

French and UK Customs

Since the UK left the EU, there are now specific rules and restrictions regarding items that you can bring with you when you travel between the UK and France. These rules apply whether you travel by boat, car, aeroplane, or train, and must be adhered to in addition to any specific rules relating to the method of travel (such as prohibited items or baggage allowances when travelling by plane).

Although both countries have their own set of rules, the most significant differences are seen when entering France and the EU from the UK. There are two main things to be aware of:

  • Restricted items that can’t be brought into the country.
  • Duty-free allowances on new items and alcohol/tobacco.

Travel from France to the UK

Travelling to the UK from France, there are relatively few restrictions. You can bring meat, fish, cheese, and other animal products into the UK, as well as most fresh produce.

Items bought in the EU and imported to the UK are free from customs duties and VAT as long as they fall within your personal allowance of up to £390 per person (for adults). Any goods over this amount must be declared and will be liable to both custom duties (calculated depending on the type, value, and origin of the goods) and UK import VAT. See the official rules here.

It’s a good idea to hold onto any receipts in case you need to prove this – if you are a UK resident, you might also be liable to claim back VAT when you re-enter the UK.

Alcohol allowances: what can you bring back from France?

Perhaps most notable for UK travellers to France is that there are now strict limits on the amount of alcohol and tobacco products that can be brought back to the UK duty-free. The following amounts are per person (over 18s only).

  • 42 litres of beer
  • 18 litres (24 bottles) of wine
  • 4 litres (6 bottles) of spirits or liquors over 22% alcohol
  • 9 litres (12 bottles) of sparkling or fortified wine, or other drinks under and up to 22% alcohol

Travel from the UK to France

The restrictions on items that can be brought into France and the EU from the UK are far stricter.

The following items are all prohibited:

  • All meat and dairy products (no bacon, cheese, ham sandwiches, etc.!)
  • No products containing animal-derived products, including milk (so no suet puddings, custard, sweets or cakes containing gelatine, and even chocolate – as it contains milk).
  • Plants and fresh-cut flowers

Allowed items:

  • Most processed, canned, and sealed foods (providing they don’t contain animal-derived products)
  • Powdered milk for babies and infants, and baby food (up to a total weight of 2kg)
  • Honey (small quantities for personal consumption only)
  • Eggs and egg products (small quantities for personal consumption only)
  • Certain fruits, including bananas, coconuts, pineapples, and dates
  • Medicines and prescription drugs for personal use in quantities suitable for the length of your trip only (accompanied by a prescription if bringing more than a three months’ supply)
  • Special pet foods required for medical purposes (up to a total weight of 2kg)
  • Fruits and vegetables (small quantities for personal consumption only)
  • Fish or fish products (restrictions do apply, so check official guidelines)

See the official guidelines here.

Duty-free allowances

Items bought in the UK and imported to the EU/France are free from customs duties and TVA (VAT) as long as they fall within your personal allowance. For adults, this allowance is €430 if arriving by plane or ship, or €300 by car or train, per person. For children under 15, this allowance is €150.

Items over this may be subject to taxes and duties on arrival in France.

Alcohol allowances

  • 16 litres of beer
  • 4 litres of wine
  • 1 litre of spirits or liquors over 22% alcohol
  • 2 litres (of sparkling or fortified wine, or other drinks under and up to 22% alcohol

Read the official rules on post-Brexit restricted items and customs duties here (in English and French).

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  •  Rio
    2022-09-18 08:11:41
    Hi, I would to buy a watch in France for my 50th birthday. I am travelling from the UK. I want to wear the watch back to the UK. The watch is 1,600 euros. Will I have to pay customs and if so how much? Thankyou Rio


    • Zoë Smith
      2022-09-20 13:46:50
      Zoë Smith
      Hi Rio, You will probably be eligible to claim back the VAT you paid in France on the watch - have a look at our partners ZappTax for more details on this. I also did a Q&A with them over on our YouTube channel which explains the whole process and goes into much more detail - you can find that here. It's definitely worth it on such a large purchase, so I hope this helps! Zoe


  • Irene Bourne
    2022-09-02 06:03:11
    Irene Bourne
    Are we able to take biscuits containing creams such as bourbons and custard cream


    • Zoë Smith
      2022-09-05 21:05:45
      Zoë Smith
      Hi Irene, I'm afraid, most biscuits and cakes would be prohibited as they contain milk products. Zoe


  •  Jill
    2022-08-25 06:22:47
    If I go to antiques markets in France & Belgium and buy things which I would probably sell here in the UK do I have to pay import duty and if so how is that calculated, do I have any allowance on things I bring back for myself.


    • Zoë Smith
      2022-08-30 14:43:58
      Zoë Smith
      Hi Jill, There is some information on importing second hand goods to the UK here but if you are buying, selling, and importing for a business I would recommend you get in touch with the UK customs office directly and/or consult an accountant to ensure you are following the correct protocol and minimise the VAT and custom duties charges. Best of luck, Zoe


  • Douglas Hedley
    2022-08-18 04:28:24
    Douglas Hedley
    I would like to know if I can take a small jar of lemon curd from.ghe UK into France on the Eurotunnel. The ingredients include pasteurised egg and a small amount of butter. It is for personal use only. Thanks


    • Zoë Smith
      2022-08-19 16:34:46
      Zoë Smith
      Hi Douglas, Eggs and egg products are not on the prohibited list, and butter as an ingredient doesn't seem to be mentioned either, so I would presume lemon curd is allowed. Safe travels! Zoe


  •  H
    2022-08-11 03:42:04
    We are planning on taking a large paddling pool from uk to France. Will there be any custom charges?


    • Zoë Smith
      2022-08-15 11:43:54
      Zoë Smith
      Hi H, You should declare to customs any new purchases that go over the duty-free allowances and there may be customs or duties to pay. You can find the official rules on this here: Best of luck for your travels! Zoe


  • Matthew Hammond
    2022-07-22 07:38:02
    Matthew Hammond
    Hiya - so we live in France - but travel but to il to work occasionally: we have a big 24ft tipi that we took to France before brexit but travelled back to us to uk for work (we use it to perform in )- - we are now wondering what we need to fill in or papers we need not to pay customs on it as we go back to France (it was build in 2014 so not new ) many thanks m


    • Zoë Smith
      2022-07-23 15:07:40
      Zoë Smith
      Hi Matthew, As a French resident, you are allowed to travel to and from the UK with your personal belongings without ensuing customs charges - these only apply when importing new or used goods purchased in a non-EU country. If you are worried that you may be questioned by customs guards, you could carry with you proof of the original purchase and/or its import to France. Best regards, Zoe


  •  Magnus Eisen
    2022-07-10 09:30:51
    Magnus Eisen
    I now will be living in France in my own cottage and with to bring my Books and small collection of Art by car there...also my own paintings Do you see a Customs problem ?


    • Zoë Smith
      2022-07-12 16:47:50
      Zoë Smith
      Hi Magnus,
      If you are moving to France, your personal belongings may imported free of taxes and duties as long as they meet certain requirements (for example, that you have owned them for more than six months). You will be required to present an inventory of items to customs. You can read about the requirements here. Best of luck for the move! Zoe


  • Rebecca Jesson
    2022-07-05 01:04:46
    Rebecca Jesson
    Hi, Please could you confirm if it is ok to bring orange squash/Blackcurrant squash into France? Also isit ok to bring artificial sweeteners into France as some of them contain lactose? Thanks


    • Zoë Smith
      2022-07-12 17:06:12
      Zoë Smith
      Hi Rebecca, As far as I am aware, there are no restrictions on either of those products. Best regards, Zoe


  • Chris Porter
    2022-06-12 10:04:21
    Chris Porter
    Are there any restrictions on dried spices such as Chilli powder, Cumin, coriander and paprika?


    • Zoë Smith
      2022-06-24 08:18:23
      Zoë Smith
      Hi Chris, As far as I know there are no restrictions on bringing dried spices into France. Best regards, Zoe


  •  Greg Pratt
    2022-05-24 06:03:59
    Greg Pratt
    It is still unclear to me (and neither P&O nor Eurotunnel appear to be able to confirm) what the duty free allowance is that applies when arriving in France from the UK - specifically when arriving by ferry (in a car) versus via Eurotunnel train (again in a car). Specifically does the €430 duty-free figure apply when using the ferry or is this overridden by the €300 figure as you are travelling by car? As we are still trying to furnish our second home in France, this is a significant (~50%) difference. IIs anyone able to clarify the situation???


    • Zoë Smith
      2022-06-01 17:01:49
      Zoë Smith
      Hi Gregg, As far as I understand, if you are arriving by car (and the only way to arrive by vehicle in the UK from the EU) then you will fall under the duty-free allowances designated for those arriving by car. Hope this helps! Zoe