I am relocating to the UK from the US, the moving company is telling me that certain items are not allowed through customs in a shipped container, but I cannot find any official information backing this up.

In particular they mentioned that you cannot bring food of any sorts, including dry spices. I have tried to check online, and it seems that spices are in fact allowed but I am not sure if that is only in the personal luggage so the question is:

Is there a different set of restrictions for goods that are shipped than for goods that are carried in the personal luggage? In this particular case, I am traveling from a non-EU country to the UK.

  • That doesn't sound like a customs rule, probably a food and agricultural safety rule. Did you try looking at things like bringing food into the UK and importing food into the UK?
    – Gagravarr
    Mar 18, 2015 at 10:23
  • @Gagrqvaar: I had seen the first link. Thank you for the second. I get the impression that spices are indeed allowed. Mar 18, 2015 at 10:58
  • 2
    One possibility is that the shipping company does not want to be bothered with communicating the details of the rules, checking if you comply or running the risk of being held responsible for mistakes and prefers to ban food completely.
    – Gala
    Mar 18, 2015 at 11:15
  • 3
    Sometimes various companies will tell you something is UK law when they don't know any better. Related is travel.stackexchange.com/questions/39716/…
    – Gayot Fow
    Mar 18, 2015 at 19:23
  • It's also likely that it's a condition of insurance/carriage for the shipping company. Couple more links for you here about plant, animal and food imports html and bringing food into the UK pdf. Also, this because some (like me) can't handle spice. Jun 5, 2015 at 22:22

1 Answer 1


You can Bring certain foodstuffs into the UK

The main information page for this is at https://www.gov.uk/moving-to-uk - which has a specific link indicating certain foodstuff is allowed. The page linked to is exactly the same page as for personal imports, and uses the same pamphlet.

In short, I your shipping company is just trying to avoid things being held up at customs and are playing it safe. They may have a good reason to do so; they have more experience than you at this, after all!

  • A few additional notes that I wish I'd known about this process: When you get here, you will need to fill out form C3 or form C88 if you are moving temporarily. Jul 21, 2015 at 22:09
  • You will probably need an "agent" (This may have changed in the last 6 years). They charge you in the region of £50-£75 to handle passing that form to the Border Force staff members. The shipping agent recommends one, in a no-doubt cosy deal. Jul 21, 2015 at 22:09
  • Also note that if your goods arrive before you do, they will sit in a storage area. You will be charged rent by the day for that storage area - which probably wasn't quoted to you up front. It's very expensive. So you need to have a place to stay and a place for your goods to be delivered to immediately. This might be a problem if you're planning to stay in a hotel for a few weeks while you find a place to rent. Jul 21, 2015 at 22:09
  • If you use a shipping company rather than a moving company, note that shipping is often not door-to-door and doesn't include delivery into the house. Our stuff was literally dumped on the pavement, and I had to nailed-together-wooden-boxes in the wind and rain. And it had polystyrene packing material in it. Jul 21, 2015 at 22:10
  • Also, if you use a shipping company rather than a moving company, shipping dates are non flexible, so you need to be able to take time off work to accept the shipment. These aren't your normal DHL-type groups - your goods may arrive on a huge truck at the time that suits them! Jul 21, 2015 at 22:10

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