For Importers For Exporters FAQ Contact us Blog Register Login

A blog by the TransportCloud team. We write about shipping, E-Commerce, international business, and customs.


Subscribe to our newsletter below - we will only email when we have fantastic content to share with you.


Import Restrictions in the UK

Import Restrictions in the UK

Since exiting the European Union, the UK has increased efforts to strengthen trade relations with many countries. However, despite these trade goals, the UK has maintained its position on not entertaining the importation of certain goods into its borders. Like every other nation in the world, the UK’s primary priority is the safety of its people and the promotion of its commercial strength. These priorities are safeguarded by enforcing import restrictions.

Import restrictions are barriers and prohibitions placed on imported goods to regulate the volume of such goods in the UK economy. The UK has many import restrictions, and they are regularly updated. Thus, as an importer, you must stay up-to-date with import restrictions to avoid rejection of your goods by customs authorities. Luckily, this article discusses the primary import restrictions the UK Customs Authority enforces.

Import Restrictions to Expect When Importing into the UK

Licensing Restrictions

Generally, the UK does not require an import license to import most goods. However, the UK Customs Authority requires that importers possess a license to import controlled or restricted products. These products include livestock and chemicals. You can apply for a license on the official website of the UK Trade and Investment Department.

Food Products from Third World Countries

Fruits restrictions

The UK has certain import restrictions that only apply to specific food products from third world countries. Hence, if you are importing goods from third-world countries like India or China, these restrictions apply to you. Animal products from third-world countries are generally restricted. These animal products include eggs, dairy products, honey, and straws. These products are only admitted if they successfully undergo inspections from the Designated Border Control Posts. Fruit and vegetable imports from third-world countries are also restricted. They must conform to market standards before the Customs Authority accepts them. If an importer fails to meet these standards, the goods will not be released into the UK market.

Used Agricultural Machinery

The importation of agricultural machinery from third-world countries is restricted. For the goods to be accepted, the importer must have cleaned the used machinery of dirt and soil.

Offensive Weapons

No weapons

The importation of offensive weapons is prohibited in the UK. This prohibition means that such imports are not allowed under any circumstances or from any country. The UK classifies pepper sprays, flick or gravity knives, and belt buckle knives.

Goods from Sanctioned or High-Risk Countries

Oil embargo

The UK has restrictions to prohibit importing certain goods from sanctioned countries. For example, the UK has restrictions on importing certain goods from Russia. Based on the last updated list of import restrictions, the UK has restrictions on importing gold, coal products, and oil from Russia. The UK also controls imports from countries like Ethiopia, Colombia, and the United Arab Emirates (specifically Dubai).

Goods Infringing Copyright or Trademarks

Owners of copyrights and trademarks can complain to the HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) if they feel your goods infringe their IP rights. In response, the UK Customs will not admit these goods into the country. Thus, importers must conduct trademark checks to discover possible similarities in their foreign markets.

Import Quotas


Import quotas restrict the volume of specific products imported from foreign countries. The quotas are enforced by charging higher tariffs. This way, importers will be discouraged from importing the products. The UK has implemented some of these quotas to promote domestic companies and reduce foreign competition. The country currently has an import quota on steel products Thus, as a Japanese importer, you should expect to be charged higher tariffs if you intend to import steel.

Obscene Materials

The UK generally prohibits the importation of indecent media materials. These materials include books, software, and videotapes that contain indecent images.


Import restrictions will undoubtedly change as global trade evolve and political relations are amended. The important thing is for importers to closely watch the import ecosystem for possible removals or adoptions of restrictions. This awareness will prevent unnecessary financial losses.

TransportCloud ltd - Westwood House - Annie Med Lane - Brough HU15 2HG - United Kingdom

Privacy Policy