Tuesday 20 April 2021

Hard cheese: cheddar and other UK treats restricted imports after Brexit

Feeling cut up? No more cheddar souvenirs Photo: Depositphotos

The Dutch customs body has enlisted a PR agency to remind people that once the UK leaves the EU, it will no longer be possible to bring back edible, fresh souvenirs from smoked salmon to clotted cream.

‘Although 86.8% of travellers bring back something fun or tasty from the UK, many know nothing about what you can or cannot bring back in your luggage from 2021,’ it points out in a press release.

The organisation is urging people to check the Douane Reizen app or its advice website for restrictions on goods from countries that are not in the EU. While the final details of a UK/EU trade agreement are still being discussed, so shops and business importers have clear rules, a spokeswoman pointed out that the customs regulations for personal travel are clear: a country that is not in the EU has more restrictions on the free movement of goods.

This means limits on dairy, fish and meat products, which cannot simply be brought back in your suitcase. Arno Kooij, director of enforcement policy and international affair at the customs administration of the Netherlands said in a statement: ‘From January 1, the UK is one of the most popular holiday destinations [for Dutch people] outside the EU. The customs administration is asking people to check the changed rules in plenty of time, including if you are celebrating New Year in London and travel back to the Netherlands afterwards. This will prevent you being separated from food products such as Cheddar and bacon.’

He added that bringing back some British alcoholic drinks in large quantities may also cost more than your health. ‘If you bring back strong alcoholic drinks such as gin and whisky, you can only bring back one litre without paying tax,’ he advised. ‘It’s also good to note that you need to pay Dutch VAT on purchases over €430.’

The spokeswoman said that in order to check the limits on the website or app, people need to type in a non-EU country at the moment; they will be updated on January 1. ‘It is about guarantees on the product safety,’ Esther van der Linde told DutchNews.nl. ‘If the UK leaves [the EU] there are no more controls. Spain and France have their own customs rules and they will change there too.’

A survey of 1,289 travellers to the UK, by PanelWizard and for Dutch customs, suggested that around 55% thought they would be able to bring back Cheddar and clotted cream, incorrectly, while around 43% believed wrongly that Scottish salmon would not be contraband. While there was wide awareness that restrictions on moving flora and fauna would change – and four in five didn’t think they could bring back a Scottish thistle – they were more hopeful about other British goodies.

For those hoping to make a sneaky trip to load up before the end of December, the spokeswoman was sympathetic. ‘Unfortunately, travel is difficult at the moment,’ said Van Der Linde.

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