Import – Prohibited or Restricted Goods

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Import – Prohibited or Restricted Goods - some goods need more attention to ensure compliance and even if you can import them. Find out more here.

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Import – Prohibited or Restricted Goods

Import – Prohibited or Restricted Goods

The majority of goods on import won’t need additional checks by another authority. The government has not placed restrictions on many types of goods.  What importers need to be aware of is that some goods will have checks and these can be costly if due care is not taken.

The below guide is not a detailed explanation so on specific items importers should get information from the relevant government team.

Types of Goods

There are a few types of goods to be cautious on:

  • Foodstuff. Anything made from animal products the importer will need to check with either your forwarder or a relevant authority. The list is a bit complex and so importers should check this.
  • Firearms and explosives. This may seem obvious but this can extend to imitation articles and anything with an explosive charge, such are party poppers.  Again, the importer needs caution on these goods end to end. 
  • Indecent or obscene material. Importers should check with the government as something specifically may be banned, especially anything depicting children under the age of 18.
  • Prohibited drugs. Aside from already illegal drugs, importers should be authorised with the relevant government permits anything deemed restricted.  You can contact the MHRA to check and if some form of authorisation applies and whether you can get it.
  • Any live animals, including animal carcasses – Check with port health on this. 
  • Counterfeit goods / articles
  • Some artwork and antique goods – Anything with animal products attached, e.g. ivory keys on a piano, would be subject to CITES controls.

Importers: Why were my goods checked?

Customs have the right to take a closer look at any goods arriving in UK.  Customs may do this as similar goods have been either counterfeit, faulty or simply not up to minimum quality.

Importers may have also had their imports flagged for checking if they’ve committed an infraction before.

Another reason may be that importers are using a special procedure, for example temporary import, and Customs are spot checking that all instructions are correct.

Shouldn’t my freight forwarder tell me all this?

No, freight forwarders will facilitate any requirements but unless they have experience in your specific challenges they may not be aware until too late. Importers should do their due diligence, and know what they need before starting any purchasing process.


The main HMRC website will have more detailed guidance.

You can view my general import guide for more information.


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