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.
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
- 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.
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 (*NOTE that if you arrive by car on a ferry, you will be counted as travelling by car, not ship). For children under 15, this allowance is €150.
Items over this may be subject to taxes and duties on arrival in France.
*Note that although this allowance is per-person, it can’t be combined. So, while a couple are together by car could bring €300 of goods each, they wouldn’t be able to combine it to cover one €600 purchase.
- 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 (scroll down for the English version).
Removals to France: taking items to your second home
The rules for French property owners moving personal items and furniture to their second home have also changed – read our guide to French Customs/VAT When Bringing Items to Your Second Home. If you’re moving permanently to France, then you may also be able to avoid taxes and customs duties entirely – read our guide to Removals to France After Brexit: What You Need to Know About VAT & Customs Duties.
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