Bringing food and plants into Northern Ireland

If you bring food or plants back to Northern Ireland for your own use, this is called a 'personal import’. Bringing some foodstuffs and related products into European Union (EU) countries is illegal because they can carry animal and plant pests and diseases.

Personal imports

Personal imports of meat or meat products and milk/dairy products are banned from most countries outside the EU. There are also strict controls on bringing the following products into Northern Ireland:

  • potatoes
  • plants
  • fish
  • shellfish
  • honey
  • eggs and egg products
  • certain fruit and vegetables

The same rules apply whether you are bringing these food items into the Northern Ireland yourself, if a friend or a relative is bringing them as a gift or if they are sent in the post.

If you bring back banned items, or items in an amount that exceeds certain weight limits, all of the goods will be seized and destroyed.

Animal hides

If you wish to bring animal hides and skins (either with or without hairs/ fur) into Northern Ireland they must be tanned. There is no specific limit on the amount you can bring.

Animal hides may be used for rugs and wallhangings or to cover drums, for example. 'Tanning' is the process by which the skins are hardened using vegetable or chemical agents.

Handling untreated animal hides and skins carries a serious risk of anthrax.

Import rules

Portal inspectors carry out checks at all major Northern Ireland airports and ports.

Any food items found which do not keep to import rules will be seized and destroyed and you may be prosecuted.

Find out more

Check the rules before you travel by using the links below:

Or you can also email

More useful links



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