Border Force Top Tips For Travellers This Summer

27 June 2012

Knuckle dusters and a pepper spray were just two of the unusual items seized by Border Force from passengers arriving at Belfast International Airport this week (26 June).

With the start of the holiday season, Border Force is reminding travellers heading abroad to think carefully before bringing back summer holiday “souvenirs”.

Items such as samurai swords and ninja stars may be a reminder of a holiday abroad, but they are banned in the UK. Border Force officers will seize dangerous weapons, including: samurai swords; throwing stars; firearms; realistic imitation firearms; stun guns; and knives. 

Weapons are not the only items that face restrictions. There are also strict controls on other items, including food products, which can carry pests and diseases, and also the amount of cash which can be brought back into the European Union 

John Spence, from Border Force, advises travellers:

“Border Force officers are here to help protect our border and keep communities safe from potentially harmful goods and items, while allowing genuine travellers to pass through border control. 

“Please take a moment to read our top tips for travellers so that you have a pleasant and safe trip abroad and do not return to face arrest for smuggling.”

These top tips will ensure travellers return home as smoothly as possible: 

1.    Always look after your passport and keep it safe. On return to the UK you need to produce a valid passport or travel document for yourself and any child you are travelling with. If you have a different family name or are not the child’s parent, we may ask for proof of your relationship to the child or a letter of consent from the child’s parent. This is because we have a statutory duty to safeguard the welfare of children and we take that duty very seriously. Please approach the controls as a family, rather than separately. 

2.    If you carry your passport in a protective wallet, please take it out before you present it to a Border Force officer. This will help speed up your journey home. 

3.    Never give false or misleading information (including forged or counterfeit documents) to a Border Force officer.


4.    Just because an item is on sale in another country it does not mean that it can be brought to the UK - you need to be aware of the rules on restricted or banned items. You are also not allowed to bring internationally protected endangered animals and plants, including products made from them, into the UK unless you have a permit. 

5.    Never bring in counterfeit goods, illegal drugs, firearms (including realistic imitations), offensive weapons (including knives) or indecent or obscene material. 

6.    You must declare any sums of cash of €10,000 or more (or the equivalent in another currency) if you are travelling from a country outside the European Union. 

7.    You may need a licence to carry some prescription medicines into the UK. 

8.    There are restrictions on food products that you can bring into the UK from outside the European Union, even for personal use. Restrictions apply to products made from meat, dairy, fish, eggs and honey, as well as some fruit, vegetables and plants (e.g. bulbs, seeds, cut flowers and tree bark)

9.    There are also restrictions on the amount of goods such as tobacco, alcohol and gifts you can bring in the UK.

If you are unsure of any item you are carrying, you must speak to a Border Force officer. 

Remember: Carrying items that are banned or for which you do need a licence or permit is illegal – if you are caught smuggling, you could face severe delays and penalties, including imprisonment. 

To find out more on what items you can and cannot bring in, please visit


Anyone with information about activity they suspect may be linked to drug   smuggling can call the smuggling hotline on 0800 59 5000.