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Can I bring snacks or finger food on the ferry from the UK to France?

Sandwiches, sweets, dairy… We look at post-Brexit rules on what products can be taken into France

It is not permitted to bring many different food products into the EU from the UK since Brexit Pic: Africa Studio / Shutterstock

Reader question: I plan to travel from the UK to France via ferry. What are the rules for bringing sandwiches, finger foods, snacks, sweets, etc. with me on the journey? 

There are stricter regulations on what products can be taken from the UK to France since Brexit. 

The main reason for this relates to animal health and phytosanitary rules aimed at stopping animal or plant-related diseases and pests being brought into the country.

As a result, you cannot bring meat or meat products (that do not 'look like' meat but are made from it) or milk and milk products (e.g.charcuterie, cheese, yoghurt) into the EU. 

You also cannot bring in plants or fresh parts of plants, such as seeds, fruits and vegetables, with a few exceptions like coconut, banana, pineapple and dates, without a special certificate.

Read more: Moving to France: Can I take seed packets with me from UK?

Most cakes and sweets are therefore in theory banned as they are likely to contain some form of dairy or meat product, such as gelatine or cream. 

You can carry other products that are not meat or plant based, such as bread, crisps, tea bags, etc. as long as they do not weigh over 2kg. You can also carry certain plant- or animal-based foods such as honey, snails and live oysters, as long as you have under 2kg. There is also a separate exception that allows up to 20kg of certain fish products – see EU rules here.

You are also allowed to carry up to 2kg of baby milk and baby food or special foods needed for medical reasons (they must be foods that do not need to be chilled, are branded items and in unbroken packages unless needed for current use). You can also take special pet foods needed for veterinary reasons.

In summary, if you bring snacks that are not meat, dairy or plant-based at all, you should be okay to carry them on board if they are for personal consumption. 

Checks can be made at EU entry points to see people are not carrying anything which is not allowed. In practice, not all travellers are checked thoroughly. 

If in doubt about what you can carry over, the French Douanes Info Service can be a helpful port of call for questions and offers to take calls in English. 

The telephone number for within France is 0800 94 40 40, and from abroad it is +33 1 72 40 78 50. The service is open 8:30 to 18:00 Monday to Friday.

For rules about carrying products from France to the UK, see our article here: Can I take cheese from France to the UK post-Brexit?

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